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Take-Two Interactive and NBA 2K have signed a partnership with on-demand amateur esports platform One Up to increase access to tournaments with prize pools. The multi-year agreement will tip off after the release of NBA 2K24 on September 8, 2023.

One Up will organize several free-to-enter online tournaments hosted by NBA stars where U.S. players in 41 states can compete for cash prizes. Tournaments will be prompted in the game and will prompt users to download the One Up app to register. Additionally, One Up’s tournaments will also be promoted on NBA 2K’s official social channels.

This deal is not exclusive, so this increased visibility is a key value-add for One Up. NBA 2K’s stamp of approval also adds legitimacy and credibility to One Up’s platform.

Democratizing NBA 2K esports access

The goal of the partnership is to create a pathway to competitive tournaments and substantial prize money. One Up plans to award at least $1 million in prize money, though it has not announced specifics yet. The company will provide a major portion of this prize pool itself, but did not provide an exact percentage.

“With this landmark NBA 2K deal, we want to lower the barrier of entry to esports tournaments,” said Brandon Pitts, CEO of One Up. “Our collaboration with 2K has laid the blueprint for helping publishers build game loyalty and community through tournaments that are truly open to all. At the end of the day, gamers want to compete to showcase their skills, and now they can do that and earn like the pros.”

Notably, this partnership is with the NBA 2K team only. As such, there are no plans for the professional-level NBA 2K League to promote One Up’s tournaments or vice versa. However, Pitts indicated in an interview with GamesBeat that One Up could help players gain experience or get noticed by 2K League teams.

One Up and esports as monetization

Outside of this deal, One Up’s core business is a match-making service for competitive players and a tournament organization platform. Paid members can create their own tournaments and operate them through its GameChangers OS platform. Additionally, One Up takes percentage fee of all prizes awarded through its app.

“Our whole goal is to build a marketplace where gamers can come and discover, compete and monetize their gaming skills. If a driver can monetize through DoorDash, a gamer should be able to monetize their skills,” Pitts told GamesBeat.

Fitting with this deal, One Up seeks to on bridge the gap between sports fandom and competitive gaming. As such, its initial focus is on sports-sim titles and athlete partnerships. The company is backed by the NFL’s Denzel Ward and the NBA’s Terry Rozier and Victor Oladipo. Similarly, pro athletes and celebrities are partnering with One Up to build their personal brands within gaming.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Our partnership with NBA 2K creates awareness around gamers being able to monetize their skills,” Pitts said. “This also shows publishers that One Up can enable monetization in their community of gamers and increase engagement. This also applies to brands that want to organize their own tournaments for their audiences.”

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