Amazon is expanding its investment in esports, with the announcement of its first-ever esports tournament focused on casual gaming to be hosted on its Amazon Appstore. Called the “Champions of Fire Invitational,” the event will bring together sixteen of the industry’s top video game streamers, who will compete for shares of a $100,000 cash prize on December 2nd, 2 to 9 PM PT. The event will be live-streamed to the Amazon-owned streaming site, Twitch.
CBS Sports Network will also air a two-hour special with highlights from the event, and streams will be made available on Amazon.com, Amazon Fire TV, and other social media networks that offer livestreams, the company says.
What’s interesting about this event is that it will be focused on casual gaming – a move that Amazon is likely hoping will entice a broader group of viewers to tune in. Typically, video game streaming and has skewed more towards younger, male viewers, according to data from Twitch. But that’s something the streaming network has been trying to change by launching channels for creative content, and airing specials from Bob Ross and Julia Child.
The participants in this new event will compete across five of the top-rated games in the casual gaming category, including Disney Crossy Road, Pac-Man 256, Bloons TD Battles, 8 Ball Pool, and the new Fruit Ninja Tournament Edition. The matches themselves will be face-paced, and each game has a $30,000 Grand Prize available.
The lineup of players includes several top names in esports, such as Boxbox, Professor Broman, Northernlion, lolRenaynay, Brian Kibler, and others.
Amazon already has a number of investments in video gaming, and, more recently, we’ve seen it strengthening its ties with Twitch with more crossovers between the two companies.
For example, in September, Amazon showed off its first games built by Amazon Game Studios that featured direct integration with Twitch. These games, built on Amazon’s game engine platform for developers, Lumberyard, allow gamers to stream broadcasts in real-time, overlaid with stats, to Twitch’s video network.
Following that news, Twitch rolled out its own variation on Amazon’s membership program, called Twitch Prime, which offers subscribers ad-free viewing, free loot, access to special features, like video uploads and clips on mobile, among other things.
For this new tournament, Amazon is partnering with eSports Productions to put on the event at Paris Las Vegas. Tickets to watch the tournament in person are available for free, from the event’s website here.
“Competitive video gaming has seen huge growth, and we see tremendous customer value in expanding the tournament experience to include the casual mobile games played by millions of people today,” said Aaron Rubenson, Director, Amazon Appstore, in a statement about the esports tournament. “The Champions of Fire Invitational will see some of the top gaming pros square off in the same fun games our customers can download and enjoy today from the Amazon Appstore.”
In other words, Amazon is also using the event as a means of marketing is Appstore marketplace, by highlighting some of its top titles along with promoting the esports competition itself.