Super Evil Megacorp continues to prove that mobile eSports are here to stay. The game developer, which has raised over $26 million in funding to date, has just signed a deal with Amazon. The leading e-tailer is the platinum sponsor of the 2016 Vainglory Summer eSports season, which runs today through September 11.
The new season introduces two separate tiers of competition. Twitch and Super Evil Megacorp are debuting the Evil Eight, presented by Amazon Appstore, a new tier of elite competition in North America and Europe featuring only the region’s top eight teams at any given time. These elite teams will battle each weekend on Twitch in eight-team tournaments, earning points in championship standings.
Alongside will be a community-run “Challenger” tier of competition, with regular Evil Eight challenger battles. Kristian Segerstrale, COO of Super Evil Megacorp, said this two-tiered competitive structure creates many more opportunities to broadcast clashes of elite teams such as Team SoloMid, G2 eSports, Team Secret, mousesports, and SK Gaming, while giving up-and-coming teams a path to their own tournament victories and ultimately the seasonal championship.
“This is the first time both top-tier teams and new teams are applying and competing,” Segerstrale said. “It all culminates with the top three teams from the Challenger series facing off against the bottom three teams from the elite structure. The competitive landscape has grown so rapidly that we can now support full-time Vainglory teams that deserve a league of their own, and also give amateur teams that are improving an opportunity to challenge the best teams.”
Segerstrale added that Vainglory-first teams such as GankStars and Halcyon Hammers have been able to build professional organizations, complete with business development representatives, sponsorships, and part-time team psychologists. Amazon’s home city of Seattle is likely to host the “Battle for Seattle” North American Summer Live Championships September 2-4 while the European championship will be held September 9-11.
“We’re hoping to work the North American championship into the broader PAX fabric, which takes places that weekend,” Segerstrale said. The summer season is poised to have 5 million viewers tune in to the action, doubling the number of viewers from the Winter 2016 event. He also expects to see a larger live audience attend the event, topping the 500-700 people who attended the recent Spring North American Championship.
In addition, the Amazon Appstore will be rewarding players throughout the season with discounts and bonus Amazon Coins, the digital currency that lets customers save up to 25 percent off in-app purchases.
Super Evil Megacorp signed a multi-year, multimillion deal with Amazon-owned Twitch in March to take over its Vainglory eSports business. “We’ve had a relationship with Amazon before the Twitch deal, and worked with them on the first season in a small-scale collaboration,” Segerstrale said. “That’s grown. We’ve launched Vainglory on the Amazon Appstore and the relationship has grown into this significant Summer Season. The Twitch deal has helped. All sponsorship and sales come through Twitch. The team working on Vainglory eSports there has quadrupled. Both the live audience and broadcast quality of these events significantly increased.”
Segerstrale also commented on how this new deal is about more than the sponsorship monetary component. “It’s a deep marketing collaboration that helps promote the Amazon Appstore and helps spread the word of Vainglory and the competitive scene, which is rapidly becoming a fun, fast-growing new thing for the touch screen generation,” Segerstrale notes. “There are millions of folks growing up with touch screens as their primary device for gaming, entertainment, communication and information. This Amazon deal will help invite more people to be part of the competitive scene.”
Super Evil Megacorp has been updating Vainglory to connect with a more mainstream audience like the one Amazon caters to. “We believe multiplayer touch screen gaming will be mass market in the next few years,” said Segerstrale. “It’s new for this generation now, but the Summer Season update has many features that make the game more approachable. We’ve added broader options to play with or against bots, so you don’t have to play with real people. We’ve introduced the shorter Battle Royale game mode for learning to play different heroes. And we’ve added more tutorials and learning materials.”
This 2016 Summer Season is a small step in a long journey toward making multiplayer play more approachable on touch screens. “At its core, Vainglory is a highly competitive game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to just have fun playing with friends,” Segerstrale explains. “Amazon will help spread the word.”