[toc]The Xbox E3 conference on June 13 saw Microsoft announce new products and features for the Xbox product range. For esports, the most significant development was the announcement of Xbox Arena.
Xbox Arena is an esports tournament platform designed to work with a wide range of games, and available across Xbox consoles, Windows 10 PCs, Android and Apple iOS. The platform is scheduled for launch this fall.
The E3 presentation explained Microsoft’s commitment to competition:
“Competitive gaming has always been at the core of Xbox. Whether you are a seasoned Pro or a casual gamer, we want to unleash competitive gaming for everyone.”
EA will bring top titles to Arena
During the presentation, Microsoft explained that Smite and World of Tanks would be added to Xbox Live and feature in the Arena platform.
The company will get other top titles following a deal struck with EA, which will bring FIFA and other games to Arena “over the coming years.”
Arena is complementary to the ESL deal
Earlier this year, Microsoft struck a deal with ESL to enable platform integration so that Xbox gamers could take part in ESL events straight from their home consoles.
FACEIT is also involved in the deal, integrating its esports platform technology and helping third-party video game developers and publishers add a competitive layer to their games for the Xbox Live Tournaments Platform.
Niccolo Maisto, CEO of FACEIT highlighted the significance of the deal:
“The launch of the Xbox Live Tournaments Platform is a monumental moment for the future of competitive gaming and the growth of eSports.”
It’s not clear how the ESL deal will integrate with the Arena platform. It looks like the technology should be able to integrate smoothly, but for marketing reasons the ESL esports events could well be maintained separately from other Arena tournaments.
Arena will be supported by other Xbox Live enhancements
Xbox Live was launched in 2002, and since then Microsoft has upgraded the service regularly. This year, as well as the introduction of Arena, there will be three new developments which will support the esports tournament platform.
- Clubs — The Clubs feature enables players to create and maintain communities around a particular common interest.
- Looking for Group —“It’s like a want ad for multi-player. It’s the simplest way to find other gamers with a shared goal in mind.”
- Servers closer to players — Microsoft will add more servers and position them “closer to where gamers are, resulting in a faster, more reliable network.”
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