We sit down with Multiplay founder Craig "Wizzo" Fletcher to discuss the plans around GAME's new BELONG competitive gaming stores.
ENUK: GAME mentioned that players and teams are able to book space in the BELONG stores to play. How much will it cost them to book the space, and how much can they book?
Wizzo: The pricing structure for BELONG stores is as follows:
Prices to play on our professional grade gaming rings start from just £1, with a full day outside of London costing £20. At our Central London Wardour Street store where demand is higher, an hour of play costs £8, compared to £5 outside of London.
At present, casual gaming across XBOX and PSN is free, while £5 gets you a dedicated 10-minute VR experience with one of our BELONG experts; money that can be recouped if you go on to purchase the kit.
How many BELONG stores does GAME plan to open next year?
BELONG is central to our strategy and there will be 10 BELONG communities open by the end of January, with more to be announced in the future.
Can you go into detail with the kind of community activities these BELONG stores will facilitate?
Each BELONG will host weekly themed nights, launch parties, tournaments and special events that appeal to the local video gaming community.
We already run competitive gaming activity outside of our BELONG zones. Many of our GAME stores host regular tournaments in alternative venues – it's always worth checking our events calendar and local GAME stores to see what activity they have on.
"Each of our BELONG stores has a 'tribe'. While we're not revealing the full details yet, you can be sure more exciting news will be coming soon."
We've noticed a GAME Twitch channel with staff from different stores on there. What are the aims with that?
In partnership with Microsoft, we've opened a bespoke Xbox broadcast studio at our Metrocentre store in Gateshead. The studio will see staff members stream live on Twitch for at least two hours a day.
The content will be broadcast live on the GAME Twitch channel, and include new release play-throughs, deals of the week and themed events with a focus on specific titles and the local community.
You hinted at some kind of regional esports tournament in your video tour of the new store, and mentioned the London Lionhearts as one 'tribe' in particular. Can you tell us more about that?
Well spotted - each of our BELONG stores features local branding. Each BELONG store has a 'tribe'.
While we're not revealing the full details yet, you can be sure more exciting news will be coming soon. You'll have to visit each BELONG to check out the unique branding.
— Belong By GAME (@BelongByGAME) December 22, 2016
Will there be tournaments held in conjunction with other companies at GAME, or will they all be organised by GAME?
We're keen to continue to work in close partnership with publishers and first parties to bring their very latest and greatest games to BELONG. We will work with publishers to explore ways to promote their content whilst ensuring the community has access to the titles they want to play.
One of the many benefits of having Multiplay under the same roof as part of the wider GAME team is that we can draw on their experience when delivering tournaments, particularly following the continued success of the Insomnia festivals.
Can we expect further moves into esports from GAME? What's next to look out for?
We are already embedded in esports and the UK competitive gaming scene through our Multiplay business and through the Insomnia festivals in particular. It's certainly an area that we have identified as a major influencer on the future of the industry, so we will continue to align ourselves with it.
"In partnership with Microsoft, we've opened a bespoke Xbox broadcast studio at our Metrocentre store in Gateshead. The studio will see staff members stream live on Twitch for at least two hours a day."
What changes are coming for Insomnia next year? How's the artist line-up coming for the music stage and will there be some kind of cross promotion for Multiplay Insomnia in the stores?
Insomnia60 will see the return of the UK drone racing series, together with a host of new titles and esports tournaments. We will be announcing a line-up of music artists for the festival closer to the date.
We'll be revealing a lot more about our plans for BELONG in the new year.