Virgin, EA Sports launch $1 million event on PS3

Mon, Jan 2
9:54
AM ET
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It's one thing to beat your buddy at "Madden" on a desperation Hail Marry with lunch on the line. But do you have what it takes to beat the best in the world with $400,000 at stake?

That's what Virgin Gaming and EA Sports are looking to find out as they have launched the most high-roller sports gaming tournament ever conceived, including $1-million in prize money spread across three tournaments: "Madden NFL 12" ($400,000), "FIFA 12" ($400,000), and "NHL 12" ($200,000).

The tournaments are being played exclusively on the PlayStation 3, and gamers have until March of 2012 to log in and win their way through the online qualifiers, with the nerve-racking finals taking place live in New York come April.

"We're hoping to see hundreds of thousands of gamers online testing their skills from the comforts of their own homes," explains Rob Segal, Virgin Gaming's CEO. "Then, after the qualifiers, approximately 1,000 people will advance to play at the live finals.

"The structure of the tournament throws away the need for scheduling your games and allows gamers to play instantly anytime of night or day. This has never been available before Virgin Gaming. You no longer have to wait for the rest of your bracket to play before you advance. Now if you win your first game, you get a ticket to level two and can play immediately. Whenever you feel like playing, you click "Play Now," and the site will match you up with someone else who holds a level two ticket. It's so much easier and user friendly. There have been plenty of tournaments where you had to get in your car and drive to some location only to get your butt kicked in the first round and you're out. We're looking at it more from a perspective of the poker space where gamers can play from the comfort of their own home, they can play, they can re-enter, and they can play at the times that they want."

The buy-in for the tournament is $10, and if you win six games, you advance to the in-person final. Lose, and you can either buy back in, or if you'd rather just skip the online qualifiers all together, all you need to do is pay the tournament fee of $400 and you can then advance straight to Manhattan.

Adds Segal: "And the finals are going to be promoted as a big-time event. We're partnering with Maxim for the nighttime activities. The Virgin Gamer Girls are going to be there, and we're even looking at developing a television show with our partners at EA about the event.

"We're trying to make celebrities and superstars out of gamers, and we definitely intend for this to be the next big step forward in the world of competitive gaming."