Game Digital is set to sell its Belong Gaming Arenas to US start-up Vindex in a deal thought to be worth $50 million.
Belong Gaming Arenas’ brand and intellectual property will now be owned by Vindex, but Game will continue to own and operate the arenas with an exclusive licence.
Game, which was purchased by Sports Direct and House of Fraser mogul Mike Ashley last year for £52 million, will also see its chief executive Martyn Gibbs join Vindex’s management team as head of Belong Gaming.
Since launching in 2017 21 Belong gaming arenas have been opened, often next to or as part of Game’s retail stores.
READ MORE: Hands On with Game’s Belong arena
The arenas feature a range of high-end gaming PCs, consoles and accessories like VR headsets, allowing players to try out new games and technology before investing in a purchase.
Crucially these arenas host competitive gaming tournaments, marking Game’s attempt to shift its reliance on dwindling hardware sales towards the increasingly lucrative esports sector.
Vindex is understood to have big plans for the Belong franchise and has raised $300 million in funding to drive a rapid expansion over the next five years.
It said it plans to open more than 500 new esports arenas in the US and a further 1000 across Europe, and has secured financial backing from heavyweights like US hedge fund manager Joel Greenblatt and former ESPN head Steve Bornstein.
In October last year, Game appointed CBRE to review its property portfolio aiming to significantly restructure the company’s operations.
The deal comes amid a torrid time for Mike Ashley’s retail empire, which warned last week it could be forced to close store following the governments decision to delay a business rates revaluations until 2023.