Sports Direct (LON: SPD) has announced a partnership with the games retailer Game Digital (LON: GMD).
Shoppers will be invited to take a break from shopping, to meet and compete with fellow gamers in selected stores.
Sports Direct bought a 25.8 percent stake in Game Digital back in 2017. They will pay a further £3.2 million for 50 percent of the group’s intellectual property and will, in turn, receive half of the profits.
“The arenas provide dedicated space for both PC and console gamers to play with friends, compete in tournaments, enjoy gaming nights, celebrate new games and technology launches, and share game-themed events and experiences,” said Game Digital.
Sports Direct has almost 500 stores in the UK but it is not yet decided how many will host the new gaming outlets.
The companies are hoping to capitalise on the overlap between traditional sports and eSports. The merge between the two has found attention from celebrity sponsors including Jennifer Lopez and Formula One driver Fernando Alonso.
“We seem to be at a tipping point with [mainstream] brands coming in, but the good thing is that they didn’t just treat it as a badge slap. They attempted to integrate themselves in a deeper way,” says Mark Cox, UK head of Publishing at Riot Games.
“Gillette took the step into eSports and demonstrated a real desire to integrate. They seem prepared to go in deeply from top level to grassroots. At the lower level the game is on all the time, people are constantly playing it, so they have this mass access.”
Game Digital also hosts festivals of e-sports, called Insomnia.
Investors seem positive about the news. Game’s shares shot up by 12 percent, before slipping back to a nine percent increase in morning trade. Shares in Sports Direct were up by one percent.