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Video game makers catch on that e-sports can be great marketing

League of Legends tournament in downtown LA.
League of Legends tournament in downtown LA.
Jacob Margolis/KPCC

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Kids of the 80s might remember the film, "The Wizard," which was basically a 96-minute commercial for Nintendo. The climax was a video game competition that showcased the new Super Mario Bros 3.

"The Wizard" starred video games. There was a supporting cast of actors, too, I guess.

Almost 30 years later, life is imitating fiction: video game makers are finally coming around to the idea that competitions are great way to market their new titles.

Competitions, or e-sports, have grown faster than Mario eating a Super Mushroom. Prize pools often reach into the millions.

However, game makers rarely paid that much attention to them. But Tuesday, Microsoft announced it will personally invest $1 million in prize money for a competition featuring the upcoming "Halo 5."

Nick Wingfield, tech reporter for the New York Times, explains that appealing to elite players can generate buzz and long-lasting interest in titles.