Game chief executive Martyn Gibbs has confirmed plans to roll out 10 in-store gaming arenas before Christmas, plus standalone gaming venues.

Having launched its first in-store gaming arena at the Trafford Centre and the second in Cribbs Causeway, Bristol earlier this week, the game specialist is poised to open eight more. 

Gibbs told Retail Week the remaining locations have been nailed down and are likely to open before the end of this year.

He added that a pay-to-play arena in central London was “next on the horizon”.

However, he said the roll out was dependent on securing required broadband speeds of 100 megabytes, and is in continued discussions with internet providers. 

The arenas allow people to pay for virtual-reality experiences or play tournaments on gaming PCs.

They have so far played host to a number of e-sports teams and proved popular venues for children’s parties.

Gibbs said: “We’re delighted because it’s engaging younger gamers, as well as PC gamers, who we previously found it difficult to be completely relevant to.”

Gibbs added that 23% of the people who had paid to play in the first gaming arena were new to the retailer.

Dedicated venues

In addition to the in-store venues, Gibbs plans to convert two stores into dedicated gaming sites.

He is eyeing locations in four UK cities for brand new standalone venues.

Gibbs said: “The two standalone stores that will be converted have been agreed, but we have not yet located something that’s right for our new venues.”

Diversifying the business

The arenas form part of plans to revitalise the business, which today reported a 6.2% sales fall and an 84% profit plunge in its full-year.

Gibbs attributed this decline to “tough market dynamics”, referring specifically to the console cycle.

He said Game is creating a more stable platform by “enhancing and diversifying its retail business to capitalise on opportunities within the wider video game industry”.

Gibbs added: “We’re making good progress as we continue to transition the business from one that historically sold physical products to one selling gaming products and services.”

Full-year sales grew 45% in its new e-sports and events services division.