In what may seem like a surprising announcement, a new partnership with Ubisoft will bring Just Dance to this year’s Electronic Sports World Cup game line-up as the event’s first ever casual offering.
“For the 11th edition of the ESWC, we are very proud to widen the definition of eSport with Ubisoft,” Matthieu Dallon, the founder of the ESWC, said today in the official announcement. “Competitive gaming has to welcome all kind of players, has to be developed in partnership with the games publishers, and has to showcase the most advanced technologies which link the body to the game. Just Dance is for ESWC the perfect medium to reach those goals.”
Here’s how Just Dance’s inclusion will work. From now until September 21st, qualifying rounds will take place three ways: the World Dance Floor (with qualifying sessions happening on various dates, listed on the UbiBlog announcement of this partnership that I’ve linked to below), Just Dance TV, and worldwide events such as ESWC Qualifiers and various Ubisoft events. The top twenty players coming out of those rounds will compete in the finals at Paris Games Week in late October, where their performances will be judged, both by a local jury and online voting.
I have to say that, on a personal level, I find it a little odd to have Just Dance be part of a competitive gaming event. No offense intended to what the game is (or the people who love it), but the series has never been about precision body tracking for judging if dance moves are fully being performed or not. Plus, these kinds of games often rely just as much on luck and the whim of whatever is doing the motion tracking as they do skill—that was true when I was playing ParaPara Paradise on a multi-thousand dollar arcade unit many years ago, and it’s still true today (with every motion tracking device or controller that exists).
At the same time, let’s be fair: Just Dance’s inclusion in the ESWC is a way to bring more casual gamers into the world of eSports, which, in the end, could very well be a good thing. There will still be a focus on the more “hardcore” games and their highly competitive nature, so maybe it doesn’t matter if the Just Dance portion of the event is more about having fun than it is a true test of skill.