‘UK eSports is a sleeping giant’ – Gfinity reflects on gaming arena’s first year

Gfinity says it has been ‘a brilliant first year’ since opening its eSports arena in London.

The company transformed the Vue Cinema Fulham Broadway multiplex into a dedicated 600-person capacity competitive gaming venue called the Gfinity Arena in March 2015.

Speaking to PCR at the Vainglory European Winter Championships this weekend (which saw gaming pros playing against one another using tablet devices), Gfinity’s head of partner relations Martin Wyatt said: "It’s been a brilliant first year – we’re about a week away from our first birthday in terms of being in this physical space.

"So a year ago we partnered with Vue to offer the eSports community somewhere regular to go to access high quality eSports competitions, meet the players and have a live event experience.

"We’ve run 34 events out of the Arena and they’ve been broadcast to just over 60 million people over the past year. We’ve been selling the place out depending on the games and we’re investing in other games.

"As far as year one goes, it’s been phenomenally successful."

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On whether PC companies should be taking note of the growing eSports scene, Wyatt said: "eSports should definitely be on people’s radar from an industry perspective, because these players are tech savvy guys, they’re using various pieces of hardware and software from PC companies, so there’s a natural affinity.

"What eSports brings is a unique communication channel, a unique engagement channel, and people can get involved with us by either attaching to the suite of events we run… we can build bespoke events for partners if they want a particular marketing drive.

"We take a very different approach. It’s not just about putting a badge or a logo on a stream. What we want to understand is what’s important to these companies, what are the outcomes and what they’re looking to achieve and then we’ll build something back from that, and take accountability for that.

"Whether it’s attaching to a run of tournaments we have planned in, and then finding the right places to activate, or building something bespoke – we can do it all.

"A lot of people are happy to be associated with an eSports tournament – people want branded content and interviews with players. We look at what return on investment means for the brand, then we try to provide that.

"eSports is an ever-changing beast – as it gets bigger the different monetisation and return on investment options will change, and we’ll move and be flexible with that."

On UK eSports in particular, Wyatt added: "UK eSports a sleeping giant. We have an untapped pool of talent that, given the right infrastructure and platform, can go on to compete with the very best in the world.

"I’m not convinced we’re as far behind other countries than everyone thinks. You’ll see more UK-based investment from Gfinity for the communities here going forwards."

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