Mentioned in this article
- Gfinity Australia was launched in 2017 by radio company HT&E’s events arm as a licensed version of the UK Gfinity brand.
- Gfinity Australia ran a city-based league concept in 2018 across three esports – CS:GO, Street Fighter V, and Rocket League – while in 2019 it narrowed its focus to Rocket League and iRacing competitions.
- HT&E said the decision was part of refocusing on its core audio business, finding esports was “yet to deliver sustainable, positive earnings.”
Gfinity Australia will close operations at the end of 2019, as the Australian licensee, radio station operator HT&E, exits its effort to build an esports business as part of its events arm.
The company licensed the brand in 2017 from the UK-based Gfinity organization, but aimed to deliver a twist on the concept by running a city-based league concept, Gfinity Elite Series, with teams competing across three esports – Rocket League, Street Fighter V, and CS:GO. The competition also included open qualification tournaments for players to get the opportunity to be drafted into teams.
Esports organizations Order, Chiefs, Ground Zero, and Avant Gaming took part in the first year of the competition, with each club given a city affiliation to sit alongside their known esports brands – Melbourne Order, Sydney Chiefs, Perth Ground Zero, and Melbourne Avant (both Sydney and Melbourne had two teams).
The competition featured six teams in total, with two teams – Brisbane Deceptors and Sydney Roar – being run under the control of HT&E.
After two seasons in 2018, Gfinity Australia had a quiet start to 2019 before launching a new season of Rocket League competition and then a sim racing series on the iRacing game platform, the Gfinity Supercars Eseries, in association with Australian touring car championship Supercars.
In its time, Gfinity Australia developed commercial partnerships with endemic companies such as Logitech Australia as well as non-endemics such as Dare Iced Coffee. It also succeeded in securing a commercial television broadcast partnership to have Rocket League screened on free-to-air television on Sunday mornings.
But in the end, HT&E found there was simply not enough revenue generation and no sign of improvement on the horizon, so it announced Gfinity Australia will close at the end of the current sim racing season. The closure has been reported in the latest HT&E financial reports as a $5.3M AUD ($3.57M USD) loss.
In a statement, HT&E indicated that despite “record Australian esports sponsorship revenue, the esports market in Australia has not developed to the level forecast when the company was launched in 2017.”
Gfinity Australia built a small arena into a cinema complex in Sydney, owned by cinema chain Hoyts. At the time of launch, the concept was designed to expand to have cinema-based esports arenas in different cities around Australia with a view to develop home and away fixtures for competitions. But no other cinema arenas were ever announced.
“Esports remains an exciting industry with significant global interest and activity and HT&E believes it will become mainstream and significant content-audience-commercial media in the long term,” said Ciaran Davis, Chief Executive of HT&E, in the statement.
“But our absolute focus is on our core radio business and the economics of esports in the Australia market are yet to deliver sustainable, positive earnings. It is critical our investments deliver value for shareholders and with esports there is no certainty on when a positive contribution might be achieved.”
Dominic Remond, chief executive officer of Gfinity Esports Australia, said in the statement that, while the decision was difficult the focus now is to deliver the final season of the Gfinity Supercars Eseries before the closer is finalized later in the year.
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