Mike Ashley to introduce e-sports arenas into Sports Direct stores

Computer gaming enthusiasts play games

Computer gaming enthusiasts play games

Game Digital (GMD) is aiming to scale up its competitive eSports business through a deal with sportswear specialist Sports Direct (SPD).

The Belong initiative is created to give people a reason to go out to their local GAME store. The sites are located across the United Kingdom, in city and town centres and in major shopping centres, and also host new technology launches, competitions and other invite-only gatherings.

Sports Direct, which bought a 25.8% stake in Game Digital in 2017, will also pay £3.2m for 50% of the intellectual property of Belong, the computer game company's eSports offshoot, and will be entitled to half its profits. The arrangement comprises £20 million working capital facility and a £35 million capital expenditure facility, which Game may utilise to fund potential new venues and ongoing development of the Belong website and its associated tournament management system.

Game's chief executive Maryn Gibbs added: "As more consumer focus and spend moves to experiences, we are well advanced in delivering unique, world-class gaming at both local and national level".

Game said it launched BELONG just over a year ago, and it now had 19 in operation, giving gamers the opportunity to join other players on platforms like PS4 and Xbox One.

As part of the agreement, Sports Direct and Game Digital will share profits from standalone Belong sites, Belong sites located in or next to Game Retail stores, Belong sites based in Sports Direct stores, Game Retail concessions situated in Sports Direct stores and Belong/Game Retail stores located in Sports Direct stores.

Game plans to "capitalise on the increasing overlap between sports and eSports fans" by launching arenas or Game retail stores in select Sports Direct branches.