Gameworld: Video gamers can now play for more than high scores

Thu Jun 24, 2010 6:03am EDT
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By John Gaudiosi

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Gamers may enjoy bragging to their friends about their virtual skills and high scores but now there's a way for players to literally put their money where their mouth is.

Richard Branson has stepped back into the video game space, where he was an early pioneer with Virgin Interactive, with his sights set on the emerging competitive tournament gaming space.

Virgin Gaming will be giving away over $1 million in cash over the next 12 months through video game tournaments in which players can compete from the comfort of their own homes on consoles like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

"People have been playing competitively for a very long time, ever since a guy picked up a rock and said he could throw it further than the guy next to him," said Branson, who attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) last week.

"In the videogame space, the competitive gaming landscape has only been open to pros and the elite players. At Virgin Gaming, our mission is similar to what Sony is doing with PlayStation Move and Microsoft is doing with Kinect -- we're broadening the scope for everyone."

With the global gaming business raking in $60 billion last year, Billy Pidgeon, analyst for M2 Research, believes brands like Virgin Gaming will be able to capitalize on avid gaming audiences around the world without any legal issues.

Over the coming months, Virgin Gaming will align itself with major game publishers and mainstream sponsors to launch tournaments for thousands of players to compete.

William Levy, president of Virgin Gaming, said there are about 20 companies that currently offer gamers a chance to win real prizes for virtual play.   Continued...