NFL Turns to ESports
The NFL has launched a 32-team eSports contest centered around EA Sports Madden football.
Initially the league was meant to be a test featuring eight virtual NFL teams, but the league found the response from gamers to be so high that all 32 NFL franchises were included.
“The feedback we got was, ‘Wait, my favorite team isn’t in this. Why can’t I sign up for it?” Chris Halpin, the NFL’s chief strategy officer and senior vice president for consumer products, said at the recent XLIVE Esports Summit according to a report at sportstechie.com. “You try to tell the world something’s a test, and that doesn’t really work well on social media. So, the answer was we are rolling out to 32 teams. That’s bigger. It makes sense to fans.”
Gamers can now choose from any NFL franchise in a bid to reach the competitions championship levels. However, league officials say this Madden competition is aimed at casual gamers and not hardcore eSports players.
“It has been a dream of tens of millions of people, fans of the NFL to represent their teams,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and general manager of EA’s competitive gaming division to sporttechie.com. “Somebody is going to make it all the way to the very top, be crowned the champion, take home a lot of money and get to go to the Super Bowl. And that person probably right now this week is playing Madden on their couch not knowing that in a few short months, they’re going to be world famous.”
League officials told the website that the competition is a direct result of the rising popularity of eSports and a way for the league to engage younger fans.
“We are laser-focused as a sports league on maintaining reach and engagement across audience profiles, demos, segments, and we benefit from a very a large, avid, young audience at the NFL,” Halpin said. “So, we have to keep engaging them.”
In another eSports story, Malta-based Gimli is launching a new eSports platform that will enable eSports streaming operations to provide bets on their streams. The platform allows operators to decide what percentage fee to retain on bets.
The company says in a press release that the platform is “revolutionary” as it is built on the Ethereum blockchain and also calls it “transparent” as opposed to other platforms.
The platform is based on the blockchain and labeled as decentralized. The company says operators will retain some control on betting and could block transfers as well as refund tokens if streamers attempt to use the platform for illegal purposes.
The company notes that several high-profile streamers have already begun using the platform.