'Xbox Live Tournaments' coming with Virgin partnership

As we prepare for the bevy of announcements to come from Microsoft in a few hours, it seems that one of its partners has jumped the gun and made its announcement a bit early. Microsoft is partnering with Virgin Gaming to open "Xbox Live Tournaments" for Gold subscribers. The new feature will roll out sometime later this year.

The announcement promises skill-based events, with both free and paid-entry tournaments. It also mentions "leading publishers," so this won't just be relegated to first-party titles like Halo and Gears. Naturally, the tournament will include prizes for the winners. The functionality is likely to come through a dedicated app. Microsoft will likely share a few more details at its press conference.

"The launch of the Xbox LIVE Tournament service, powered by Virgin Gaming will bring a wide variety of competitive and casual tournament options to Xbox LIVE subscribers," said Xbox Live general manager Alex Garden, in the announcement. "Our goal is to deliver a play experience that makes tournaments fun and accessible, in a way that resonates with both the core and casual Xbox gamer, and we've found a partner that shares that same vision."