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GAME Digital (LON:GAME) has revealed its latest move in its diversification with the acquisition of Spanish eSports group SocialNat.
It is understood that it was a cash purchase, of less than £500,000. Whilst not a large sum, the deal is deemed to be a strategically important in the context of GAME's growing eSports business.
The Spanish company has more than 150,000 registered users and has been involved in a number of high profile eSports events, including the Spanish qualifying for the Electronic Sports World Cup at the 2015 Madrid Games Week.
It is the retailer’s second eSports purchase, following on from the £20mln deal for live events group Multiplay last March. And it is part of the group’s effort to become more involved in the ‘gaming experience’ beyond the point of sale.
“ESports present one of the most exciting developments in the industry and the acquisition of SocialNAT will help to accelerate our plans in this area, particularly in Spain," said Pablo Crespo, managing director of GAME Spain.
Through the Multiplay business, GAME operates the Insomnia gaming and eSports festivals (of which five are planned for 2016).
An Insomnia event at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry last year sold 37,000 tickets, had over 10,000 players taking part and registered over one million video plays of event coverage totalling more than 11.5 mln minutes watched
GAME highlighted in today’s stock market statement that eSports was estimated to have generated some $748mln of global revenue in 2015, and it is forecast to be a $1.9bn industry by the end of 2018.
Investors in London have become increasing aware of the emerging eSports phenomenon - which is already hugely popular among teens and young adults – thanks in part to the December 2014 stock market float of AIM quoted Gfinity.
Gfinity via a bespoke ‘arena’ at a Fulham cinema hosts eSports tournaments, and it also broadcasts eSports events online.
The AIM group, which is currently valued in the market at around £15mln, for example is hosting the European FIFA 16 ‘Play Like a Legend’ championships at its London venue between February and May. At the events, professional eSports teams will compete for a total prize pot of around $29,000.
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