Intel is making a big push into the gamer market at this year's E3 conference in Los Angeles. (Intel)
On the eve of the big E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, chipmaker Intel (INTC) made a series of announcements aimed at the lucrative high-end PC gamer market.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel announced an expanded partnership with ESL, the world's largest e-sports company. Intel will serve as ESL's official technology partner and will provide the backbone for ESL's e-sports events, studios and broadcasting operations. All amateur and pro tournament PCs will run the latest Intel Core i7 processors and all of ESL's production hardware will run on a combination of Intel Core and Intel Xeon processors.
The two companies also announced the Intel Grand Slam for "Counter Strike: Global Offensive," which will award a bonus $1 million prize to the first team to win four "CS:GO" competitions by ESL and DreamHack in a 12-month period.
Intel also announced a partnership with Facebook (FB)-owned Oculus to launch a competitive virtual-reality gaming series called VR Challenger League. The gaming series will begin in July and features "The Unspoken" from Insomniac Games and "Echo Arena" from Ready At Dawn Studios.
The VR e-sports competition will take place online and at key events with players from around the world, with the finals taking place at the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice, Poland, in 2018.
E-sports is a "cultural phenomenon" that is expected to grow to about 500 million fans worldwide by 2020, said Gregory Bryant, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group.
IBD'S TAKE: For the latest news on the E3 conference, check out IBD's E3 news page. E3, short for Electronic Entertainment Expo, runs Tuesday through Thursday in downtown Los Angeles.
Also Monday, Intel announced the release schedule for its high-end Intel Core X-series processor family.
The four- to 10-core processors will be available for pre-order starting June 19 and will start shipping to consumers the following week. Availability for the rest of the chip family will soon follow.
The top-of-the-line Intel Core i9-7980X Extreme Edition processor is expected to start shipping in October. It will be the first desktop PC processor with 18 cores, allowing it to handle "all the megatasking demands of gaming, VR, content creation and more," Intel said.
Intel stock rose 2 cents to 35.73 on the stock market today.