Interviews & Opinion

Why GAME's Player1Events esports and events division is vital to the UK retailer's future

Why GAME's Player1Events esports and events division is vital to the UK retailer's future

In 2015, GAME bought esports, events and server infrastructure firm Multiplay for £20m. At the end of last year, the UK-based High Street retailer sold the server hosting business to engine maker Unity for a £19m - not a bad price. Selling this infrastructure on was always part of the plan, Multiplay director of digital solutions Paul Manuel told, but it also left the events and esports side of the business without a name

Now, the British games store has this arm of the company to Player1Events. We caught up with Sarah Whittaker, head of sales, marketing and content at this newly-renamed division to find out why it has a new name and what part Player1Events has in GAME's future. 

Why rebrand to Player1Events?After the business sold the digital division last year it was part of the sale conditions that we rebranded and moved away from the name of Multiplay which is now owned by Unity. However, it is the same great team that has been running Insomnia for 20 plus years so nothing really has changed other than a name change.

How has the last year been for GAME's esports and events business?

A good year for us, we have been involved in more great events including our core gaming event, Insomnia Gaming Festival which has been at the NEC across Easter and August bank holiday. We have focused on creating better core elements such as BYOC and become even more customer focused. Also bringing more PC manufacturers back and developing Tournament Zones with PC’s creates a wider gaming experience. Also, we ran Call of Duty World League at Easter with Activision and MLG.

We will always evolve, but constantly ask our loyal customer base what they want from a gaming festival. Our events have seen some global YouTubers and amazing stage content from WWE NXT.

We have been developing our international franchise business with our first event in Cairo, which was a great success for their first real gaming show in Egypt. Around a 10,000 footfall of passionate gamers and a community of League of Legends, Overwatch and Dota 2 came back day after day.

In 2019 we see our first event in Dubai as well continuing to grow the brand internationally.

How important is Player1Events to the future of GAME?

Very important. Putting gamers first is part of the group strategy and having a showcase for publishers and developers to make their games an experience at our shows and getting their products in the hands of potential customers is an amazing opportunity for both customers and publishers.

The community is key for us and acquiring new customers and developing an even better LAN can only drive a better customer experience. We have worked on so many additional elements within BYOC to offer value for money with things like our Social Games areas, Chill zones, Escape Rooms and so on. Esports all the way to Pro level gamers are available to see and the Belong Arenas and their tribes are all a key part of Insomnia’s foundations and make us a unique event.

What challenges has Player1 events experience in the last year?

As we roll out more Insomnia events, including Dubai next Autumn, we need to understand the different regions trends and how to put on a show that caters for those customers. In the UK we need to include more tournament Zones and eSports at all levels run by gamers for gamers

What's the ambition or goal for the coming year?

Run two large Insomnia events. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.