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Sports Direct and Game Digital announce in-store experience tie-up

Game Digital and Sports Direct have signed a collaboration agreement that will see the sports equipment retailer host the former’s Belong interactive gaming experiences within some of its stores.

The sub brand, Belong, was launched by Game Digital in 2016, and involved the company opening what it describes as “arenas” within its stores and in standalone locations, where people can visit and play their favourite video games. The sites are located across the UK, in city and town centres and in major shopping centres, and also host new technology launches, competitions and other invite-only gatherings.

Sports Direct has acquired a 50% interest in the rights of the Belong intellectual property for £3.2 million, and a 50% profit share of future profits of Belong and associated venues.

Game’s Spanish arm has also entered into a loan agreement with Sports Direct for facilities of up to £55 million on an unsecured basis. The arrangement comprises £20 million working capital facility and a £35 million capital expenditure facility, which Game may utilise to fund potential new venues and ongoing development of the Belong website and its associated tournament management system.

Martyn Gibbs, Game Digital CEO, said: "I am delighted that through the collaboration agreement we are able to accelerate the implementation of a key element of our transformational strategy to move from a seller of physical products to providing gaming experiences.  

“As more consumer focus and spend moves to experiences, we are well advanced in delivering unique, world class gaming at both local and national level.”

Over the last 14 months, Game has opened 19 Belong arenas, and Gibbs said the business is “very encouraged by the popularity and performance of these locations”.  

Following the deal, a redeveloped Belong website is scheduled for launch later this month, allowing people to reserve their gaming location online ahead of their visit, and to access information about upcoming community events and tournaments in their local arena.

As part of the agreement, Sports Direct and Game Digital will share profits from standalone Belong sites, Belong sites located in or next to Game Retail stores, Belong sites based in Sports Direct stores, Game Retail concessions situated in Sports Direct stores and Belong/Game Retail stores located in Sports Direct stores. Sports Direct will have no right to profits from standalone Game Retail stores.