Online Video Game Wagering from EA Sports and Virgin Games
How many of you are familiar with the opening line from EA Sports games? You know the one… “EA Sports – it’s in the game!” Well it’s not just “in the game” anymore; it’s “in the gamble”. Electronic Arts (EA) has signed a deal with Virgin Gaming, a division of the Virgin empire, to incorporate gambling into its online gaming modules.
Imagine inviting an online player into a Madden NFL 11 exhibition game and while setting the options – choosing your team, uniform, playbooks, etc. – you also have the opportunity to input a friendly, real money wager. That’s what Virgin Gaming is going to be integrating into most EA sports video games.
Madden NFL 11 and FIFA 11, among others, will use the Virgin Gaming online wagering system to give players the option to place real money wagers on exhibition games. Virgin already has a tournament style wagering system in place where Xbox and PS3 gamers can buy-in to tournaments and compete for a prize pool. The games are tracked by Virgin to ensure no one cheats, and that prizes are awarded appropriately.
Virgin is also planning to implement user-specified tournaments, where gamers can set-up their own tournament platform and challenge others for the prize pool.
Virgin Gaming president William Levy said, “This is the biggest deal we’ve had.
“We have the entry fee-based tournaments. We also have sponsored tournaments,” Levy explained. “Let’s say there was a $10 entry fee tournament, you could click ‘enter now,’ agree to the terms and conditions and then we deduct the $10 from your account and put it towards the pot.”
The new online wagering system for EA games will include the option to wager on one-on-one match-ups. According to Virgin, there are already more than 170,000 users signed up to participate in online wagering from over 30 countries.
Of course the idea is controversial at best. It demands multiple parties to consider their views on the subject of gambling over the internet. Government regulators will need to determine how to handle the situation, by regulating the market or banning its presence. Parents will also need to take extra precautions when their video gaming children turn on their Xbox or PS3 systems to compete against real players over the internet.
EA’s Madden NFL franchise sold more than 1.81 million copies in August 2010 alone across the United States. It is easily the best-selling video game in the sports genre in the US. EA’s FIFA series is even bigger, with a worldwide audience that purchased more than 2.6 million copies in its first five days of release this past November. The new contract between EA and Virgin could mean very big changes in the near future for both parties, as well as online video gaming and gambling enthusiasts.