Final Fantasy Tactics still hasn't been released on PC, despite our best efforts (opens in new tab), but it's now possible for PC gamers to enjoy it in a different sort of way. An automated Twitch stream called FFT Battleground, spotted by PCGamesN (opens in new tab), is pitting eight teams of AI-controlled characters against one another in single-elimination tournaments—and viewers can bet on the outcomes.
Not real money, of course, because that's probably be illegal, in the US at least. Instead, viewers are given 1000G that they can wager as they see fit. The basics are simple: Pick your team—Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, White, Black, Purple, or Brown—and then use the "!bet" command to put down your money. Once the betting window is closed, teams will throw down until only one is left standing. The final team will then have a go at the winner of the previous tournament to determine the champ—at which point it all starts over again.
No matter how badly you bet, your balance cannot fall below 100G, or 200G for subscribers. So if, as a completely random example of something that I definitely did not do, you put down your entire bundle on "purple," and then purple gets vaporized by a meteor spell, you can keep on playing and maybe restore your fortune.
This is important, because your winnings aren't just good for bragging rights. That pretend money can also be used to add your name to the game as a unit, with specific class, sex, skill, and skill exclusion options available at higher prices. The skills used to customize those characters are also available for purchase. Successful wagers will also earn you experience and levels that will increase your gambling floor and also confer skills. "This will allow you to progress even if you're stuck in the salt mines," the stream creators explained.
Both the gambling and the battles are surprisingly complex. Teams are assembled at random, and equipped with skills and items of varying rarity—the more powerful they are, the less likely they are to appear. You can throw your money at a random color if you like—1000 on purple, say—but dedicated players can get stats on abilities, items, classes, map layouts, and more, to make properly informed wagers.
It can be tricky to get into, because the Twitch interface really isn't built for this kind of thing. There's not much time between matches to line things up, and analytical information is quickly pushed off the screen by the hundreds of other players clamoring to place their bets. It's a bit like trying to read an email from your financial adviser in the middle of the Kumite (opens in new tab). The fights unfold very quickly, so it's not easy to follow the specifics of battle, although familiarity with FFT (which, I admit, I do not possess) probably helps in that regard. The bot handling the action also appears to struggle with the load sometimes.
Still, the bottom is that hundreds of people are watching and gambling on outcomes, and some of them appear to be doing quite well with it. At the moment, well over 600 people are watching and throwing around their pretend cash with a purpose—up from about 450 when I started watching an hour ago. The FFT Battleground creators say that the stream is still in "early beta," and that many new features are planned; hopefully they can also figure out how to smooth out the experience for new gamblers.