In possibly the most bizarre gaming news so far this year, Sports Direct has acquired 50% of Game’s esports arena’s, Belong.
Game currently has 19 ‘Belong’ arena’s that allow gamers to use ‘professional’ rigs to play games like PUBG, Rocket League and League of Legends.
And this model has become incredibly popular amongst children’s parties and gamers and wannabe competitive teams looking for somewhere to practice.
Despite Game believing that Belong is a key part of their digital future, they have agreed to sell 50% of the IP rights to Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct for £3.2m as well as 50% of all future profits.
And now it looks like Sports Direct will be implementing Belong arena’s into their own stores as Ashley looks to offer customers ‘experiences’ as well as simply shopping.
‘Overlap between sports & esports fans’
Game CEO Martyn Gibbs revealed: “We look forward to collaborating with Sports Direct to increase the availability and scale of Belong and to capitalise on the increasing overlap between sports and esports fans by bringing this unique experience to a wider consumer base.”
While Sports Direct CFO Jon Kempster added: “We are very happy to partner with GAME in building an increased presence in the esports market through the Belong brand.
“This is a very good example of building a commercial relationship via our strategic investment approach.”
As you can imagine, mixing the world of esports and one of the most controversial business owners in the country has been met with some interesting reaction.
In fact, many esports and gaming fans, in general, took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the odd deal.
How Twitter reacted
Wow! Sports Direct buying half of Game’s eSports arenas is a really cool and interesting move. Interesting to see gaming retail moving in an unexpected direction.
— Jake Willey 🎮🕹 (@itsJakeWilley) February 12, 2018
Or is this the first step in transferring everything half decent from GAME to Sports Direct? Next step pre-owned tracky bottoms? 🤔
— Clement Murphy (@ClemMurphy) February 12, 2018
Sports Direct buying 50% of Belong. Could be a very good move. Question is why is Belong separate from GAME?
— Andy Payne#FBPE (@PercyBlakeney63) February 12, 2018
As a Newcastle fan, bit hesitant here. But if there’s one thing Ashley is, it’s someone who will find a way to turn a profit. Belong may be a cool idea, but GAME isn’t exactly a successful business – if this gives Belong a fighting chance. then it has to be a good thing.
— David W. Duffy (@Olucaron) February 12, 2018
@AyyyPanye – “I don’t know how I feel about this one. More places for esports to pop up but Sports Direct is an awfully ran company that has a bad track record of employee treatment. Jury’s out for me.” https://t.co/sn9mslOwhc
— Captured Esports (@CapturedEsports) February 12, 2018