As the esports industry continues its rapid growth, there will be demand for more places to play. Not large-scale arenas, those are well taken care of. No, the future growth of esports depends on establishing several local scenes. Places where the next generation of pros can train. Or where fans can participate in low-stakes tournaments, keeping up the hype without putting the pressure on everyone to go for the big leagues. It seems that one investor is stepping up to fill this need. And it's Five Below of all places.
The news comes from The Philadelphia Inquirer, as the Five Below company is based in the state. They report that Five Below's plan is to use its larger stores to house 3,000-square-foot gaming centers. These spaces could house anywhere between 30-50 computers. This will be done in partnership with Nerd Street Gamers, another Philadelphia operation. They are going to lend Five Below their expertise in developing an esports facility.
The preliminary plan is to have these esports centers be open whenever the housing Five Below store is, according to Nerd Street Gamers chief executive John Fazio. He also shared that use of these facilities will be charged at “pay-as-you-go rates.” That could mean anywhere between $1.50 to $5 an hour to play. These centers will also have the potential to host tournaments and leagues, Fazio says. Such competitions would be lower-stakes affairs with costs of $35 to $100.
Many at this point are asking "why?" What does Five Below, a retail chain known for selling wacky and useful items for $5 or under, gain from getting into esports? The answer seems to boil down to two things. One, Fazio explains that these esports centers could be hangouts. Teams would go to practice, buying snacks and drinks as they play. The other thing to consider is Five Below's target market. The store aims to present itself as a fun place for teens and tweens. That also happens to be a good age group for esports. Many of them are fans, but are not old enough to sign a pro contract yet.
When put that way, it sounds like a great idea. Internet cafés have long since faded into obscurity, even though they should be more relevant than ever. Five Below sees the potential to revive the idea with a more modern flair. Believe it or not, Five Below might be the next big thing in esports.
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer