It’s only been a little over a week since the first national virtual reality esports championship took place in New York, but the public’s response to the event has led Intel, Oculus, and ESL to double down on VR esports with the VR Challenger League.
The new, larger competitive gaming series will feature a number of VR esports around the world, with $200,000 in a general prize pool for players.
To kick off the series, the competition will focus on just two games, The Unspoken, the immersive game that lets you become a sorcerer, and Echo Arena, which doesn’t come out until July 20, but can best be described as Ender’s Game (as seen in the 2013 film) meets Tron (in terms of visual aesthetics).
The series of events will include online and offline competitions beginning July 12, ending with a final championship event at the annual Intel Extreme Masters gaming event in 2018.
And while existing hardcore VR gamers will welcome the news, without a confirmed hit VR title out there (neither Insomniac games, the maker of The Unspoken, nor Oculus will reveal user numbers), it might seem a bit early to begin building entire leagues around VR esports.
Yes, The Unspoken community is passionate and appears to be growing, and the response to the recent 80-store competition was encouraging for VR fans, but there seems to be a ways to go before we see legions of fans clogging up Twitch’s bandwidth to watch a VR tournament.
But that’s the ever-wary realist’s point of view.
New technology platforms (which VR still is, despite years of development) require optimism and experimentation from developers and hardware makers to grow and thrive, and that’s exactly what the VR Challenger League represents.
Now that the competitive series has been announced, it’s just a matter of letting esports history unfold to see if VR is really ready to compete with traditional console and PC gaming.