Sony Online Entertainment is moving into eSports with PlanetSide 2, taking what it describes as a careful approach into tournament play for the free to play MMO shooter. To kick things off, the company organized a match where YouTube stars and their fans battled in front of a live onsite and online audience. The event, billed as the Ultimate Empire Showdown, was held the same day Sony Online announced a new partnership with Major League Gaming (MLG).
Speaking about the relationship, Sony Online president John Smedley said, "We have a longterm roadmap with them where we're going to be bringing PlanetSide 2 into the eSports universe in a very phased and very controlled way."
MLG representatives were on hand at the tournament, which put YouTube show hosts SeaNanners, TotalBiscuit and LevelCap in charge of building a team and representing each of the three empires in the game. TotalBiscuit and his Terran Republic team, which adopted their empire's fascist persona and loudly taunted their foes in the match, took home the trophy.
As part of our exclusive series of interviews with Sony Online on the marketing of PlanetSide 2, [a]list daily went to the Ultimate Empire Showdown to talk with Smedley and head of marketing Laura Naviaux about their drive into eSports. We also had a chance to hear what competing YouTube stars think of their experience with PlanetSide2 tournament play, and how celebrity hosts Jace Hall and Adrianne Curry came to join the fray.