Virgin Pioneers Video GamingBy: Ryan Alders, Thursday June 17th 2010
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The Virgin group, that operates the popular online Virgin Casino, has entered into another format of online gaming. This is an innovative concept of video gaming. The concept was developed by the Canadian company World Gaming and presented to Virgin owner Sir Richard Branson. The entrepreneur in Branson immediately identified the commercial possibilities in this idea and the partnership and re-branding deal was signed.
World Gaming was founded by college roommates Bill Levy and Zack Zeldin. After developing a viable business model they were able to attract Rob Segal as an investor. Segal developed the concept further and ultimately approached the Virgin group. Virgin Gaming will be taking this concept to commercial fruition under Segal, who joined Virgin Gaming as its first Chief Executive Officer. Virgin Gaming already has over 40 employees, most of who worked on this proposal at World Gaming. Virgin Gaming has opened an office in Toronto. Branson informed the media that another office will be opened soon in Santa Monica, California.
The video gaming operations at Virgin Gaming will follow a skill-gaming business model. Players will compete against equally skilled opponents in online video game matches and bet on the outcome. The automated skill rating system matches competitors and prevents players from challenging others who are rated lower. Players can challenge better players if they want to. The best part of the model is that it is completely legal even in the United States and Canada because the video games are clearly games of skill and not chance. Segal estimates that there are 40 million people already playing video games over the Internet through the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. Virgin Gaming has to attract this market to the gaming product it offers. Segal spoke to the media about this concept. He said, "It wasn't a question as to whether or not there was an industry out there, the question was who's going to be the first person to figure out how to - in an automated approach - be able to offer a product like Virgin Gaming. This is the next big thing; it's the future of online gaming."
The launch of the platform will be in the flamboyant Branson-Virgin style. Plans are afoot to initially offer over a million dollars in prize money for the online video game tournaments. This will enable players to get familiar with the concept and also help to promote Virgin Gaming. Virgin Gaming will also draw inputs from other Virgin enterprises like Virgin Casino. Segal pointed out that only the best video game titles with a clear definition of victory will be taken up by Virgin Gaming. He added that players can sign up for free but will be charged tournament management fees, which will be something like the rake charged at online poker tables.
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