Sponsors Glom Onto Video Game Tournament

Ubisoft has signed sponsors to a video game tournament its putting on right after the holidays. Gamestop, EB Games and Chrysler’s Dodge are among the advertisers for the event, in which hundreds or thousands of gamers will play “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas” on their Xbox Live consoles. Dodge will give away a 2007 Dodge Nitro to the winner, an extension of its in-game product placement with the title.

Competitive gaming in the form of tournaments is largely limited to hard-core gamers, some of whom have formed leagues like the Global Gaming League and Major League Gaming. While some tournaments take place in public areas, Ubisoft plans to host this one on Xbox Live, with players competing from the comfort of their homes or those of their friends.

Registration began on November 6 and the event begins December 27. Teams will play through January 28.

Console maker Microsoft is helping facilitate events such as the “Rainbow Six” tournament to promote the Xbox Live platform. “Anything that we can do to push the Xbox Live gaming service is something Xbox wants people to be involved with, and they know that ‘Rainbow Six’ is one of the flagship games of the service,” Ubisoft VP of Marketing Tony Key told ClickZ.

As of this week about 600 people, or 150 teams, had signed up. Key said Ubisoft may revise the contest workings to allow more teams if there is continued interest.

Sponsors include Gamestop and EB Games, Future U.S., and Chrysler’s Dodge. Gamestop and EB Games retail stores plan to put up signage and distribute a 12-page hint guide with tips to be a better tournament player, and salespeople will discuss the tournament with customers. Future’s GamesRadar site will carry ads as well.

“Everybody’s making a significant contribution,” said Key. “It is set up in a way that [each sponsor] can leverage what they can offer on a non-cash basis. At the end of the day this stuff does cost money.” Key said there was a “fair and equitable split between partners on who is going to provide what, and everybody feels like they’re winning in this example.”

Interactive ads are not included in the sponsorship packages, though other video game tournaments with online streaming components have included them.

Tourney sponsorships can be a viable accompaniment to dynamic in-game advertising, according to comments made by Ogilvy Partner and Senior Strategist for Digital Innovation Brandon Berger during a talk on the gaming ecosystem at ad:tech New York earlier this month.

Chrysler’s involvement in the three tournaments to date is an extension of its product integration in each of the games. “The car that we give away is generally the car in the game itself through a product placement deal with Dodge,” said Key.

“Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas” is due in stores November 22. Ubisoft intends to continue its program of tournaments. Its first was for “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfare” when it partnered with Best Buy, and gave away a Dodge Caliber as the grand prize. The second was for “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent.”

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