How Gameloft and Orange Created a Casual Esports Event

Gameloft, leader in the development and publishing of mobile games, takes on the world of competitive gaming with the Asphalt Orange Cup.

When Gameloft had the chance to team up with the French telecom company Orange and the mobile phone producer Alcatel to create a gaming competition, Asphalt 8: Airborne was an obvious choice. The game brings the spirit of racing to the casual world. Adding the atmosphere of a live event to a fun-oriented game only elevates the energy to the next level.

The Asphalt Orange Cup was a tournament that did just that, bringing the excitement of a casual gaming competition to Paris Games Week. The grand finale between the top players was center stage at the Orange booth. The combination of the fun and competitive sides of gaming created an experience that made it easy to participate, but still hard to win.

Games are about having fun with a clear goal.

The evolution of esports over the past decade has been a story of going from incredibly niche, small events to becoming massive, worldwide, stadium-filling spectacles. The competitive direction of gaming has gotten everyone’s attention and has game production companies and players alike looking for a way to jump into the world of esports and be a part of this new wave of gaming.

However, the bulk of esports are still associated with desktop computers and consoles with the First Person Shooter (FPS) and Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genres dominating the scene. The most well-known esports fall in these categories with CS: GO being an FPS and League of Legends and Dota 2 being MOBAs. All three games are also desktop exclusives.

While it may not be on the top of everyone’s mind, mobile games are also involved in esports with Supercell pushing its Clash Royale title and Blizzard’s Hearthstone seemingly redefining the difference between a desktop and mobile game.

Mobile esports do exist, but in general the mobile gaming space is associated with a softer kind of gamer and invites a more casual atmosphere. You can play mobile games on your way to work, before you fall asleep in bed, or while you’re at the beach. The idea is not that mobile gaming is only a leisurely adventure, but that the space is open to a wider audience.

You aren’t chained to your computer with a keyboard and mouse and can enjoy mobile games wherever and whenever you want.

The thing that ties esports together is the level of competitiveness the players bring to the controller, the keyboard, or even the phone. This idea of mixing competition and fun on mobile is how Gameloft, with Orange and Alcatel, came to create a casual competitive gaming event with the Asphalt Orange Cup.

The Asphalt Orange Cup took place over 4 months as players duked it out on either iOS or Android to get a spot in the final competition and a chance to win all the glory at the Orange booth during Paris Games Week. All but one qualifying round was held completely on the internet (one qualifying event being held at the Orange Boutique Opéra in Paris last September).

The final competition during Paris Games Week was 7 matches long and led to a dramatic unveiling of the best Asphalt 8: Airborne players in France. The 8 finalists had their eyes on the grand prize provided by Orange: a €2,000 check. Winning also came with a pretty snazzy trophy and of course the bragging rights that come with being the best Asphalt 8 player.

How Gameloft was able to create such a unique competitive gaming event involves having a deep understanding of what makes an esport and what makes a casual game. With its long history in the industry, combining the two ideas was easy for the mobile gaming giant.

It can be hard to talk about esports in a concrete sense when the word is so new and there is sometimes difficult corporate messaging to get around.

What makes an esport for some people is that there is an organization or a business behind the game calling it such and funding its existence.

On the other hand there is a much more organic approach to esports that involves looking at what makes gamers think a game is an esport (beyond the tournaments and cash prizes). This is where the term “esports ready” comes into play and gives a rough guideline of what any game needs to consider if it wants gamers to consider it an esport.

  • Not pay to win
  • Fair gameplay
  • Balanced mechanics
  • Community backing

This short list is about making a game that is both fun and competitive, and on without the other makes for a game that people will not want to play enough to be considered an esport.

The world of casual gaming exploded in the mid-2000s and pushes the idea of anyone having fun with a video game, but takes away the ultra-competitive atmosphere that covered most of gaming before then.

The idea is that instead of needing a dedicated man-cave where you spend 12 hours a day grinding out your skill shots in the latest FPS, you can just play and stop whenever and wherever you want. The casual nature of it is about how you don’t need to have intense dedication to getting good.

You can still have fun without the intense dedication to improvement.

Casual gaming is about being inclusive and getting those who maybe would never think of themselves as gamers to start playing video games.

  • Anyone can play
  • Fun for non-gamers
  • Fun first, competitive second
  • Can be played by anyone, anywhere, at any time

Dominating the mobile gaming market means that Gameloft is very familiar with the idea of casual gaming and while the company does push the limits of the term “casual” Gameloft always keeps the ideas of inclusivity and ease of use in mind when developing even its most competitive games.

The Asphalt Orange Cup is a combination of casual gaming and professional competitive gaming.

The tournament included an impressive prize pool thanks to Orange and the finalists had been practicing for months for the chance to get on stage during Paris Games Week.

During the finale, the world saw who the best Asphalt 8 players are, and the casual aspect of the game was never hidden. The finalists wore custom Asphalt Orange Cup jerseys, but they were not in sound proof boxes while they played hour long matches.

The 8 finalists took turns sitting comfortably on couches facing a crowd of adoring fans.

While the game itself is not “esports ready”, Gameloft made sure that it followed the guidelines of being fair and balanced. The qualifying rounds were open to iOS and Android phones alike, but the grand finale at Paris Games Week was played on special iPhones provided by Gameloft in order to keep the competition even.

The finalists themselves also represented the unique mix of competition and fun.

Multiple generations came together at the Orange booth to compete in the grand finale. There was a 31 year difference between the youngest and oldest competitors, with Nuno Miguel “Ulti003” Almeida Monteiro and Paul “Grotoflok” Lin at 16 years old, and Fred “Fred Duc” Charpentier at 47 years old.

An event of this caliber would not be complete without good hosts and with the help of Orange, Alex Goude, a French television personality, was at Paris Games Week cohosting the event.

Alex Goude provided a human connection to the audience and had a natural charisma on stage. He is also no stranger to video games and his personal passion for gaming allowed him to tie together both long time gamers and casual first time viewers.

The other host of the event was Gameloft’s own Benjamin “Sixquatre” Leray. Benjamin is an esports veteran who holds the title of world champion in Rainbow Six. His passion for gaming and competition naturally brought hype to the Asphalt Orange Cup.

When the big check and trophy were being walked out everyone was ready. Dorian “Fury_Djoker” Velon, the winner of the Asphalt Orange Cup, was smiling ear to ear as he was finally able to definitively prove that he is the best Asphalt 8 player.

“We are very happy to have been able to put on this great competition, with the help of Orange and Alcatel, featuring one of our bestselling games, Asphalt 8: Airborne. An amazing adventure with thousands of participants in the qualifying rounds and an explosive finale between the 8 best players in France at PGW 2017.”

— Kevin Léry, Marketing Project Manager at Gameloft

It may seem impossible to combine the ideas of intense competition and laid-back leisure, but one look at the Asphalt Orange Cup is all it takes to see how it’s done.

Gameloft, Orange, and Alcatel created an event that not only brings out the fierce live competition often associated with sports, but also the ease of use that comes with the mobile platform.

Mobile gaming is the perfect platform to combine the ideas of competition and fun.

Casual gaming competitions combine the mass appeal of casual and mobile games with the dynamic atmosphere of esports. It’s a unique way to showcase brands and get in on the cutting edge of gaming while ensuring that the message reaches as many people as possible.

Anyone who wants to take advantage of this new way to reach out directly with an audience of engaged fans needs to look at what can be done in this space.

Gameloft is always ready to collaborate with sponsors to create competitions that are both exciting and inviting, and the success of Asphalt Orange Cup shows the benefits of working together with industry leaders on new and innovative ideas.

Gameloft

Gameloft has a long history of combining entertainment with…

Gameloft

Gameloft has a long history of combining entertainment with cutting edge technology to create successful and innovative games that target the mobile platform.

John Bauer— Gameloft

Written by

John is Brand Content Editor at Gameloft, specializing in the development of stories around the business focused side of the company.

Gameloft

Gameloft has a long history of combining entertainment with cutting edge technology to create successful and innovative games that target the mobile platform.