Mattel163, the joint venture formed by the partnership of board-game manufacturer Mattel and Chinese game giant Netease, has announced a new eSports tournament for their game UNO! Mobile. The adaptation of the hit card game has accrued a playerbase of over 250m downloads according to Mattel163, and this new tournament, the UNO! Mobile Wildcard Series: Community Cup USA & Canada 2023 will cover their North-American base.
According to Mattel163’s release, the tournament will be relatively simple to enter. With players above a certain in-game level able to access the Community Cup section from their app and participate in eight monthly tournaments to be held over 2023. The top two players will be selected to advance into the Grand Finals, to be held in November of 2023, where a winner will be crowned with a $5k prize and unique trophy available to be won.
Pushing into eSports
This is not the first time Mattel163 has courted the eSports crowd. However, it’s one of the largest yet and indicates a continued focus on competitive gaming as a UA and player retention tactic. By making the game mode remotely accessible, Mattel163 are obviously aiming to bring in a wide player-base, and with the luck–based aspects of UNO!, skill gaps are unlikely to be as much of a problem as might be had in other more competitive games.
It also suggests Netease is still confident in more of their Western business. In the wake of the messy breakup of their deal with Blizzard, many including ourselves had been speculating about how this might affect their business. However, with Blizzard frustrated over their own issues after ending the deal, Netease actually seems to be coming out somewhat stronger.
This follows a number of other unusual business tactics from Mattel163, including the addition of UNO! Mobile support to Google Meets in a tactic to increase visibility and accessibility of the party game. Whilst it’s unlikely to be a problem for a game like UNO! Mobile we also recently reported on the topic of match-fixing as an issue in eSports, and with big money on the line it’s not difficult to see where some unscrupulous players may be tempted to cheat.