Mortal Kombat X is the fastest selling game in the Mortal Kombat franchise and the over-the-top beat ’em up is also one of the most talked about games of the year. But developer NetherRealm Studios and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive are setting their sights even higher by looking to build a huge eSports community around the game too.
Their first attempts to do this began last month with the ‘Fatal 8’ tournament. In partnership with the eSports League (ESL), NetherRealm and Warner Bros. invited eight of the top professional fighting game players to go head-to-head in Mortal Kombat X, three days before the game’s official release date. At ESL’s Burbank offices, the players took part in best of five with the reigning EVO Mortal Kombat 9 champion Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean as the overall victor.
Sonic Fox wasn’t the only one who had something to smile about at Fatal 8 either as new figures released by the ESL show that the tournament did well in terms of fan interest. According to the company, the four hour event had a peak concurrent viewership of 85,449, totalling over 200,000 hours watched. There were also Fatal 8 viewing parties in London and Paris as fans watched to see who would be crowned the winner and, no doubt, so that they could catch another glimpse of Mortal Kombat X before release day.
Additionally, the ELS also notes that the hashtag ‘#Fatal8’ trended on Twitter in the United States and that there were over 2.2 million social media impressions, including one million views on Facebook. This is significant because although core Mortal Kombat fans may have tuned in – as well as undecided gamers who were yet to decide whether or not to buy MKX – these people already knew about the MK games in some respect, but the chatter on social media will have helped to get Mortal Kombat in front of a brand new, unaware audience.
That will help increase sales of the game but it will also help Mortal Kombat X‘s eSports scene succeed too. As demonstrated by the recent Heroes of the Dorm tournament which aired on ESPN 2 (and also saw one ESPN host threaten to quit), eSports are quickly going mainstream.
Games like League of Legends can take up to an hour for one match to finish and so aren’t really suited to TV (ad breaks would mean that viewers miss a substantial part of the action) but the slightly shorter matches of Mortal Kombat (around 15-20 minutes for a best of five) would be perfect for a TV audience. Especially when that TV audience already enjoys boxing and mixed martial arts.
The real test of Mortal Kombat X‘s eSports scene will lie with the MKX Pro League. Preseason match-ups have already taken place but on May 3rd, things kick off for real and MKX players will be able to duke it out for a $1,000 weekly prize fund.
Will you be tuning into the Mortal Kombat X Pro League? Did you watch the Fatal 8 tournament? Leave a comment and let us know.