Virgin Gaming playing with EA Sports worldwide

January 21, 2011  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

Virgin Gaming is in the game.

The Toronto-based company, a division of the massive Virgin Group conglomerate, has entered into an agreement with EA Sports that will see it become the official worldwide provider of online tournaments for the game publisher.

The agreement covers head-to-head competitive play, pay-to-enter and sponsored tournaments for selected EA Sports console video games—including its popular Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer and NHL series of titles—on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.

Virgin Gaming CEO Rob Segal called the deal “a world-changer” for his company. “It’s working with the world’s largest publisher, offering the best sports games on the planet,” he said. “For people who play online video games, EA’s games are right at the very top.

“We’re so thrilled to have this opportunity.”

Segal predicted that the deal would result in bigger prize pools, a growing number of people to play against online, and more services.

Launched in June 2010, Virgin’s gaming division counts game publishers Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed), 2K Sports (NBA 2K11) and Sony (ModNation Racers) among its partners. Segal told Marketing that Virgin Gaming has a “bunch more” publisher announcements slated for the coming months, but said that the partnership with EA represents a “tipping point” for the company.

Virgin currently has about 170,000 users in an estimated 30 countries, although the bulk of its users are based in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. said Segal. The company has added an estimated 30,000 new users in the past two to three weeks alone, he said.

He added that the Virgin Gaming service boasts “phenomenal” engagement among its users, with some gamers playing more than 700 games within a two- or three-week period. “These people are on there all the time, so brands are really able to interact with them,” said Segal. “Part of our strategy is to make this available to brands, because gaming is where it’s at for 18-to-34-year-olds.”

Competitive gaming is a rapidly growing entertainment sector, and advertisers continue to express an interest in his company, said Segal. “They’ve kind of known about Virgin Gaming, but they wanted the user base to grow and us to get more publishers on board… Now that we have that, I think advertisers would look at this and say ‘This is how you go into gaming.’”

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