Sony buys out EVO and tournaments consolidate to survive rough year

Sony has purchased the Evo brand this week, just ahead of Evo 2021 launching a new round of fighting games tournaments. The acquisition brings the biggest fighting esports event purely under Sony, but what exactly this means for cross platform games and the content of the tournament isn’t exactly clear. While we’re unlikely to see the competition ditch everything not exclusive to a PS5, the Sony Evo buyout could spell a major change.

Sony buys EVO

EVO Tournament

Sony Evo Buyout details and quickfacts

For quite a while now, Evo has been one of the most popular fighting tournament series, running since the 90s. The tournament has expanded significantly over the years. In the last few tournaments, it mainly consisted of Street Fighter, Tekken, Smash Bros, Mortal Kombat, Dragon Ball Fighterz and Soul Caliber. The move away from in-person events has taken a clear toll though, as have allegations of sexual harassment and pedophilia against the former president of the event.

With all this in mind, Evo has been struggling over the past few months and Sony is here to salvage the situation. Furthermore, clear details have been released going over the event’s future.

Welcoming @Evo into the PlayStation family: https://t.co/I3J5iOKhha

Sony Interactive Entertainment and new esports venture RTS have jointly acquired the Evolution Championship Series pic.twitter.com/efOkbf61lU

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) March 18, 2021

Some of the staff will be carried over to provide continuity, and the event is still going to be run as a fighting game tournament. The ownership is changing hands here, but a lot will remain the same. The reasoning for the sale released by EVO claims it is to help the event continue and revitalize it during a bit of a tumultuous period.

It is difficult to separate the recent news from EVO’s recent fortunes however. The personal allegations against staff aside, fighting tournaments have had mixed results in the pandemic. They don’t work great online, a lot of Evo games quite specifically work terribly online and have had a standstill in competitive events.

A message to our community. For more information visit https://t.co/6JHZCsJsXr pic.twitter.com/uj0NKRW30m

— EVO (@EVO) March 18, 2021

This acquisition gives EVO the refresh it needs to go forward and continue through rough periods for fighting games. It also helps to separate the brand from the now relatively tarnished image of its foundation. The downside to Sony buying Evo is a continued consolidation of competitive gaming. It doesn’t sound like Sony are throwing out all non-PlayStation games, but it might be the end of the line for exclusives to other platforms.

Evo 2021 announcment

Alongside the Sony Evo buyout, we’ve also received the first details of what is going to be taking place at EVO 2021. These are the games that are going to be showed over the course of the event:

  • Guilty Gear Strive (New title from Arc System Works, developer of FighterZ)
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Street Fighter V
  • Tekken 7

These games are going to be running through August, and the exact format is unknown at the moment. All of this will be taking palace online rather than in-person. There are a few notable absences from this list, including Smash Bros. This however, probably has more to do with unworkable netcode than the Sony Evo buyout.

What Comes After the Sony Evo Buyout?

The Sony Evo buyout helps to make sure fighting tournaments can continue even after a difficult year. However, it raises some difficult questions about the events’ future and validity. At the moment they’ve said that cross platform titles will still feature in the future. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in games exclusive to other platforms. That includes one of EVO’s most popular titles, Smash Bros.

The Sony Evo buyout puts the largest segment of top tier fighting games in the control of one platform. This naturally limits its scope in the future. This exclusionary effect could be potentially destructive to fighting games growth as an esport. While players should be happy that EVO is definitely continuing after a difficult year, the monopolization of high-skill fighting tournaments could become a problem. New names in the group like WePlay have a lot of riding on them with Evo taking most of the marketplace to one platform.

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