Mass redundancies at Player1 Events leave future of Insomnia Gaming Festival uncertain

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Staff at Player1 Events, the UK-based organiser of Insomnia Gaming Festival, have been made redundant.

Several sources close to the situation have been in contact with Esports News UK to say that all staff have been let go today.

The company is owned by Supernova Capital, which bought Insomnia and Player1 Events from UK retailer GAME in 2021.

In August 2022, Neil Gaisford was announced as Player1 Events CEO, and we were told that Insomnia founder Craig ‘Wizzo’ Fletcher left in November 2023. Craig is now COO of Gameye, chairman of Futwiz and Pikawiz, and also focuses on investment and other work.

Supernova Capital has several subsidiaries and listings on Companies House. Group financial controller Nicole Avery and group CFO Christopher Sharp have both resigned from these, while co-founder and CEO Paul Wedgwood is the only director currently listed on the Supernova Events and Esports Limited listing on Companies House.

It’s not clear which direction management at Supernova will take in the future. We’ve reached out to several official Player1/Supernova channels for comment and will update this article if we hear back.

Community and former staff comment on Player1 Events redundancies, some contractors left unpaid

Former staff at Player1 Events have posted on social media about the news.

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Phil Crawford, former marketing and brand manager, said: “I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the greatest people, partners and brands over the years and will look back at my time at P1E fondly.”

Tashnarr, former partnerships coordinator at the company, added:

Rachel Dickinson, former events coordinator, said:

Jesse Raen, who worked at Insomnia for several years in the past, said in this thread:

“That work took so much from so many people but it always felt worth it to be building something that brought people together (staff, volunteers and attendees). At every turn that work was undercut by clueless, uncaring decision makers.

“I’m sad to see this happen to good people who stayed committed to it, and I’m furious at the people who shepherded it to this point.

“Everyone involved deserves better, and I hope you all land on your feet somewhere that values you.

Others who worked with Insomnia in the past, including Nik ‘Lustriga’ Topham and Charlie Tizard, said:

Esports News UK also understands that several freelance staff/contractors for the recent Insomnia 72 event have not been paid, including Nathy B and others who wished to remain anonymous.

The founder of UK esports organisation Into the Breach, Sam Cook, also said he’s owed money from an esports tournament:

And Josh Strife Hayes said ‘many performers, including myself and the Session Zero team, have still not been paid for the last Insomnia’.

The news comes after other Insomnia esports staff at Player1 Events were let go in October 2023 – Matt ‘Kharne‘ Macdonald and Michael ‘Geosnipe‘ Lambert.

The remaining esports coordinator, Deanish, was also let go today, as was event project manager Simon Dowdall and many others.

Player1 Events former Head of Sales and Content, Chris Duggan, said:

What will happen to Insomnia Gaming Festival given the redundancies at Player1 Events?

Insomnia Gaming Festival LAN

It’s not clear what the future holds for Insomnia Gaming Festival. A public announcement from Player1/Supernova is expected later this week.

RuneFest 2024 and a SuperDome esports event are scheduled to take place in Birmingham this September, alongside Insomnia 73.

RuneFest has since posted an update saying the sale of RuneFest tickets has been postponed ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ and that organisers are ‘working to explore every opportunity possible’.

EssentialsTF, organisers of the TF2 LANs at Insomnia, has published a statement following the news.

“Despite this latest news we have been planning on suspending TF2 events at Insomnia for the near future,” they said. “This is so we could explore options more suitable for the changing attitudes and approaches to LAN we have seen post-COVID and have been making progress on these ideas.

“It is likely that we will be looking at our next major LAN sometime in 2025.”

Following the news of the redundancies, two former Insomnia managers have set up their own LANcraft Events venture. And emails sent to content creators have confirmed Player1 Events is no more, plus an unofficial community Discord has been set up.

Content creator Ash Valmont has also messaged Supernova CEO Paul Wedgwood to offer to buy Insomnia and pay everyone what they’re owed:

It was previously announced that Insomnia 73 would take place at the Birmingham NEC once again from September 4th to 8th 2024, with the LAN running on those dates and the festival/expo from September 6th to 8th. 

Given today’s news, it’s not clear what will happen regarding Insomnia and these additional events.

However, this internal message sent to volunteers at Insomnia doesn’t bode well.

Lewis Collins, a consultant for Player1 Events, said:

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Tridd, partner marketing manager at Fnatic, also commented:

This is a developing situation. We’ll aim to update it with more comments and information as they become available.

The Player1 Events redundancies are the latest in a line of layoffs and consolidation in the games and esports industries, dubbed by some ‘the esports winter’.

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