Ubisoft has announced that it will launch Next Level, a series of competitive gaming tournaments that are set to kick-off at PAX Prime this week. The tournaments will be held at conventions like PAX, Comic-con, Magfest and E3 with regular tournaments being held online and in select physical locations.
ESports heavyweights need not apply, this will be as close to non-competitive gaming as you can get. Ubisoft's senior director of player engagement Josh Milligan explains.
"The analogy I draw is eSports is like the post-graduate program for gamers, and there's nothing before it," he said. "It's the most advanced thing. There are a certain number of people who can really understand the details of the most intense, amazing StarCraft match, and there are a lot of other people who play games on a regular basis who don't necessarily get into that."
Okay, so introducing more casual gamers to the world of eSports is a good thing. Next Level offers a chance for gamers to compete on a level playing field of other gamers who may have never played or been interested in eSports tournaments. At PAX competitors will compete in games like Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Just Dance 2014, The Crew, Rayman Legends, and The Might Quest for Epic Loot.
What Ubisoft is attempting to do through Next Level is to get people to play and be interested in competitive gaming who might not otherwise be. Competitiveness might not always be direct in the game, Milligan explains game types might also include in-game races in Far Cry 3, or timed gameplay sessions with a trivia session after.
As a promotional tool Next Level with primarily feature new games that everyone is playing for the first time, the object here is to have fun. Prizes range from gaming gear, like headsets, video game swag, and scholarships and travel to other tournaments.
"At the very basis of it, I would love for there to be physical events every two weeks, all year long around the world, plus online tournaments," Milligan said. "I always come back to the arcade experience — the camaraderie of playing with other people in some kind of environment where you're having fun and there's a real community around it. That's what we're aiming for."