Minecraft is currently most popular game in the world, with over 100 million registered users worldwide and a dedicated fanbase of young players—which is why Microsoft purchased the game and developer Mojang last year for $2.5 billion.
Now kids have a new way to play the game. Startup Super League Gaming is teaming up with the three largest movie theater chains in the U.S.—Cinemark, Regal, and AMC—to introduce a Little League for eSports.
This summer, 10,000 gamers ages 7 to 17 will play in Super League Gaming events in 87 theaters spread across 23 major cities in 17 states. The fall league will be played in approximately 150 theaters in 18 U.S. states, as well as internationally in China and Canada.
Despite the busy Hollywood summer movie season, which is when theaters generate the bulk of their annual revenue, Super League Gaming president and co-founder Brett Morris says theaters don’t want to just show movies anymore.
“Theaters want to be a destination for all entertainment, and there’s not a better next-gen entertainment option than gaming,” Morris says. According to Morris, there’s also incentive for theaters to dedicate space to this league because theaters will be able to take a larger percentage from league ticket sales than from movie ticket sales.
At these Super League gaming events, kids will form teams and play a first-person perspective version of Minecraft on their laptops, while a third-person perspective of the entire playing field with all teams is broadcast on the giant movie screen. An online leaderboard will track all teams weekly around the globe and show rankings.
“There’s also a fun socializing aspect we’ve created in the game to encourage gamers to move around the theater, check out each other’s builds, and basically hang out with each other,” Morris says. “Unlike a movie screening, Super League gamers can be loud, yell across the theater to their teammate, and move freely inside the theater.”
Over the next year, Morris says his company will increase the number of participating theater chains, the number of cities, as well as the number of games. “As our league grows, so will our multiplayer gameplay offerings with possible titles like League of Legends and Clash of Clans,” Morris says.
Before even officially launching Super League in international countries, Morris is already getting requests from all over the world to expand. Along with hosting events in China and Canada during the fall league, Super League Gaming plans to expand further into the Asian market.