One of the biggest tech companies in the world is making it clearer than ever that it’s taking esports seriously.
Microsoft will dole out at least $1 million in prizes for its Halo World Championship this winter, the company announced at the Gamescom conference earlier today in Cologne, Germany. The total prize pool will likely be significantly larger, however, as Microsoft will add in a crowdfunding component that will likely be similar to what Valve offers for its annual, record-breaking Dota 2 championships, The International. That tournament, running this week, will offer $18 million in prizes.
At the briefing, Halo community manager and former professional coach Andy “Bravo” Dudynsky, and Halo shoutcaster Richard Simms provided on-stage commentary for highlights for the final round of a match between pro Halo sides Team Epsilon and OpTic Gaming. The best-of-three, capture-the-flag match premiered the Coliseum map for Halo 5, and was offered as a preview of the Halo 5: Guardians Gamescom Invitational 2015 that will take place in the ESL Arena on the show floor at Gamescom on Aug 7.
The Epsilon vs. OpTic footage also highlighted Halo 5’s Spectator Mode, which allows the viewer to see all of the competitor’s silhouettes through walls or other obstructions.
Today’s Halo 5 presentation at Gamescom mentioned the single-player campaign, the tale of Spartan Locke and Master Chief, only in passing. Most of the Halo 5 portion of the Xbox briefing touted Halo’s pedigree as the shooter that defined modern console multiplayer gaming, as Microsoft continues to promote Halo 5’s esports cred.
We don’t yet know if Warzone mode, the second of two Halo 5 player-versus-player modes highlighted today at Gamescom, is going to factor into esports competition. The small-team battles and tight arena maps that define classic Halo multiplayer are where the esports appeal of Halo 5 is squarely focused.
Halo 5 will be released for the Xbox One on Oct 27.