Good, old-fashioned leagues for 21st-century gaming
As a bowling operator, you probably look forward to the predictable recurring revenue your league bowlers bring each week. While league bowling is essential to most centers’ total revenue, it has been increasingly challenging over the years.
What if I told you a large segment of the population would like to play in an organized league if you offered them what they’re looking for? And what are they looking for?
Opportunities to spend time doing what they love – gaming.
Competitive gaming is more than a trend; it's a complex, growing sport and recreation to keep your eye on. ESports offers the opportunity for bowling operators to apply their skillset of building leagues to the fastest growing entertainment category in the U.S., video games and eSports. Bowling and gaming are both competitive and social, and depending on the context of the play, they can be fun or intense.
Competitive video gaming has exploded!
Gaming is hot, and gamers are many! 80% of corporate professionals say video games are the best way to connect with their workers. People are looking for a way to socialize by doing activities they love, like playing video games.
It's important to dispel the 1990s image that gamers are teenage boys playing games in their parent's basement.
- Two-thirds of adults identify as gamers.
- 70% are middle or upper income
- 49% identify as female
- 70% play video games with their kids.
Reflect on classics like Tetris, Ms. Pac-Man, and Galaga. Some of you might remember stacking quarters to try and beat your best score or working hard to get on the leaderboard. Consider popular home games like Halo, Counterstrike (CS-GO), and Fortnite. Anyone can play and have fun, but serious players commit thousands of hours and dollars developing skills that average players marvel at.
Gaming is FUN and BIG BUSINESS
In 2022 over $100 million has been awarded in eSports already. There’s even talk of eSports entering the Olympics. NBC and ESPN regularly broadcast eSports competitions on television. Whether or not you want to accept it, eSports is a big thing.
As popular as eSports is, VR eSports provides another layer to what your center can offer and is a robust and bourgeoning market. A recent Harris Poll showed that 23% of Americans had tried a VR headset, and two-thirds said they would do it again. The great news about VR is that while people can play video games almost anywhere, to have a quality VR experience, you have to go to a facility that offers it. That's excellent news for location-based entertainment facilities! There's plenty of time and potential to build a profitable and sustainable business based on VR gaming.
The good news about competitive video gaming is that there are a lot of gamers looking for the competition that leagues provide. Since most center operators are skilled at hosting league and tournament players, it seems like a natural fit that could create a new revenue stream.
If you’re looking to kick off eSports leagues and tournaments at your center, you’ll want to find the right community manager who is the equivalent of a league secretary. These community managers structure leagues and tournaments, handle entry fees and hand out prizes. ESport community managers can be passionate players or some of your current employees working it as a side gig.
Typically, entry fees are split between the prize pools and the community managers. Locations make money on gameplay, food, beverage, and ancillary spending on other games and attractions.
Building an eSport Stream of Revenue
The best way to start is with an employee tournament. Encourage your staff to play, and award prizes to the top players. They will promote the game to your customers if they're having fun. And you get a side benefit of higher employee engagement, which during the current labor crisis can't hurt.
Once your employees play, recruit your community manager out of your most engaged staff. It's an opportunity for them to do something unique and fun while making extra money. The community manager can work with your sales team to recruit leagues and tournaments from local businesses, school groups, churches, and other institutions.
ESports is a complex revenue stream to begin, so be sure to do your homework and find out how your center can best jump on the VR eSports wave. Building a location-based eSports business will not happen overnight. It will take a consistently applied approach. But the payoffs of recurring revenue and attracting communities of frequent customers are great reasons to continue following this growing sport.
Resources to learn more:
- For more information on VR Arcade Game Esports, check out Bob Cooney’s eSports Blog
- Here's a link to Bob’s complimentary IAAPA Buyers Guide: https://www.bobcooney.com/vr-arcade-game-buyers-guide-to-iaapa/
- Information on VR games and professionals: https://thevrcollective.com/
Virtuix, the creator of the Omni Arena virtual reality eSports attraction, announced that it had launched a new online website for Omni Arena players: https://arena.virtuix.com. Players can monitor Omni Arena's weekly and monthly contest leaderboards on the site. The player hub also displays Omni Arena's games and its 60-plus locations nationwide.
“The player website allows Omni Arena players to watch their spot on the eSports leaderboards from wherever they are,” said Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix. “These leaderboards drive high repeat play, prompting players to return to the entertainment venue to regain winning slots when their position on the leaderboard slips.”
In a survey of over 50,000 Omni Arena players, 46% reported they came to the venue specifically to play Omni Arena.
Omni Arena is a full-body, virtual reality attraction for up to four players. Omni-directional treadmills inside the attraction enable players to walk and run around inside video games. Guests can compete for top spots on leaderboards and win a share of a $100,000 eSports prize pool sponsored by Virtuix. Virtuix has paid out over $250,000 in eSports prize money to the winners of Omni Arena's built-in eSports competitions.
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