Esports bars are a great way for fans to meet up, socialise, watch live esports matches and play games with one another. And one chain in particular has built up a solid reputation in this space: Meltdown.
The chain has just celebrated its fifth anniversary and has more than 20 different bars across Europe, including one in London and another set to open in Sheffield. We speak to CEO Sophia Metz about Meltdown’s success and what’s next for the chain.
Some more LAN cafes are starting to crop up across the UK, but Meltdown is arguably the most well-known chain in France and across Europe. What was the inspiration behind launching Meltdown and why do you think it’s been a success?
Sophia Metz: I used to go to all the esports events I could find, and the thrill of the competition, the amazing people I would meet and the incredible atmosphere would leave me with a need for more. Unfortunately, back in 2012, there were not that many occasions to celebrate esports with the community. That’s why I decided I would create a permanent place for esports fans to meet, I just wanted a place like that to exist!
Oddly enough, I realized when I started promoting it on forums that I wasn’t the only one in need of such a place, the reaction from the community was overwhelming and it’s been a great success ever since.
How many Meltdown bars are there right now? Do you plan to reach a certain number this year or in the next few years?
There are 26 bars in seven countries, most of them are franchises, we plan on expanding more and especially reaching new countries including the US.
We help gamers achieve their dreams and open their own bar, making them benefit from our expertise and know-how, as well as our network.
What are your most popular nights? Viewing parties or community game gatherings/matches in store?
There are events almost every day, and more and more popular esports titles. Community tournaments are very popular, especially on games like PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) which are a great fun to play and to watch from a bar. We will soon announce a worldwide tournament on the game where all the bars can face each other on the same server.
Do you have any plans to open another Meltdown bar in the UK, maybe one further North?
We are opening a bar in Sheffield soon! And would love to open more, I think the UK has great potential. It all comes down to finding the right candidates now!
Meltdown hosts esports viewing parties, tournaments and gatherings (image source: Meltdown London Facebook page)
How has the US push been so far? Are there any other regions across the world you’re targeting or moving into?
We get daily franchise requests from the US, and as we would like to offer optimal services we’re preparing our launch very carefully. We plan to raise funds to open a dedicated office to handle NA development.
What are your thoughts on the current state of esports and also your views on the UK scene?
Esports is finding its place in society, little by little. The audience gets larger, all kinds of brands see it as a new opportunity, governments give it an official existence. It’s a very exciting time, everyone is starting an esports business these days.
The UK had a slow start, but now with companies like Gfinity and others it has caught up quickly and is offering great content for the fans. I would love to see more events developing throughout the country, as aside from Multiplay I didn’t see that many large-scale initiatives for LANs and exhibitions outside London.
How can UK esports teams get involved with Meltdown?
Meltdown doesn’t currently sponsor teams; we do recruit players though. Our goal is to help them focus on their career by taking a lot of work and financial stress of their shoulders (booking trips, managing social networks etc.)
Please tell us about the esports club you’re launching. What can people expect?
We’ve launched Tribe in France only for now, but will soon expand to more countries. The idea is to create a loyalty program for esports, rewarding players who play, watch, attend esports stuff. It’s also a way for any gamer to join a team and wear its colors without having to worry about their in-game performances.
Tell us about your esports newspaper.
The Gazette is printed and not available anywhere online! The idea was to create a premium item that esports fans would love to touch and read. We release it quarterly, for free, in all the bars and gaming conventions, and each article is written by an influencer with a very personal point of view.