Earlier this month, UK retailer GAME opened its largest Belong store and esports arena to date at London Oxford Street.
In this quick interview we ask Head of Belong, Andy Dopson, about the new store and how things at Belong are going. We also have an image gallery of the store.
Please tell us about the Oxford Street store and what sets it apart from other Belong Arenas.
We have over 100 seats which will allow us to run much bigger tournaments. We also have our first ever pro room, designed specifically for pro gamers as well as two dedicated party spaces and a livestream zone.
With the 100-seater arena, do you plan on hosting more events here compared to other arenas? If so, what kind of events?
Yes, we believe the space is perfect for all types of events including launch events, press events, team meet and greets and influencer meet and greets.
With over 100 desks we are also planning on running some large tournaments across many titles including battle royales.
How happy have you been with the Belong initiative so far, what kind of growth have you seen?
We’ve seen real success with Arena Clash including growth in participation throughout 2019.
There has been continued growth in utilisation across our arenas and our membership trials have given us great insight into the best experience for our gamers as we move into 2020.
We are keen to explore a more formal approach to team partnerships in 2020.
Is the Wardour Street store closing permanently? What about the Westfield Stratford store, will that continue as normal?
The Belong Arena in Wardour Street will close in the coming months as the Lionhearts move to their new home.
Stratford has a very different audience and will continue to service its community as normal.
How many Belong Arenas are open now and how is this number expected to change over the coming year?
We now have 24 arenas throughout the UK and we continue to look for other opportunities.
Are there any changes we can expect to see at Insomnia in 2020?
As always, we love to bring fresh new content to each Insomnia. Keep up to date on our social channels as we will be announcing tournaments, influencer and exhibition partners shortly.
Belong will continue to partner on the BYOC LAN experience.
Esports has been a key aspect of the gaming community in recent years and Belong and Insomnia have catered to this. How do you think things will change in the future, what kind of emerging trends do you think we’ll see and how will GAME adapt to those?
We expect that the formalisation of the esports industry will continue. Our ambition at Belong is to continue to support publishers, brands and teams in their grassroot activities to build the best esports scene from the ground up.
What’s next for the Belong Arena Clash? Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We will continue to expand our range of titles over the coming year and are looking forward to announcing these over the coming weeks.
We look forward to welcoming new players to both of our new tribes – Ballymena Bear and Sutton Spectres – as well as welcoming new players to the Lionhearts.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.