Meltdown Bar’s Sophia Metz: Esports starts at home

Sophia Metz is the Founder and CEO of Meltdown Bars, a global chain of speciality esports bars.  

The company now has 26 bars in seven countries worldwide.

There are three run by Meltdown itself (Paris, London and Berlin) whilst the rest are franchises. Interested in opening one yourself? You’re not alone. Metz stated last week that she receives five to ten applications a day.

Speaking to attendees at Digital Gaming Revolution in Antwerp, a conference hosted by 4Entertainment, Metz presented the Meltdown business and discussed ‘grassroots esports’. This after all is what Meltdown is all about; bringing together local fans and communities under one roof. The fact that Meltdowns are open everyday means that it offers the constant social element that LANs and standalone events can never supply. In turn, this means that with Meltdowns comes a fairly unique opportunity in terms of reaching people in their cities and towns on a regular basis. Each bar could become a fan’s esports local.

Whilst companies frequently look to streaming to reach grassroots fans, or those in a specific region, Metz argued that with Meltdown there are other, more engaging and memorable ways to do so. Moreover she stated that whilst LANs and exhibitions such as Gamescom are great, these aren’t regular enough. Whilst each branch differs, Meltdowns offer nightly viewing parties or tournaments for various titles. In London this week for instance, there are Smash, Dota, Overwatch, League and Hearthstone nights respectively.

Metz and the Meltdown team have and are doing a lot of work in terms of harnessing this local opportunity. Each bar for instance has its own crest and team logo, with a view to making regular attendees feel like part of a team. Indeed, Meltdown is taking this idea even further with the introduction of Tribes.

Tribes is the ‘world’s first esports club’. Anyone will be able to join and they’ll become a part of a single worldwide club, since Meltdown is both local and global. Members will receive rewards and benefits for attending events, checking in, completing challenges and so on. Tribes is set to go live at the end of June, and we’ll have the news for you when it drops. It’ll first launch in France only, and expand outwards from there.

Outside of Tribes, another creative engagement tool at Meltdown is the newspaper. This is a quarterly print edition of esports news and opinion which is available to read at Meltdown branches.

Metz and the team opened the first Meltdown Bar in Paris in 2012. An ‘esports bar’ was something so new and intriguing that it saw patrons coming from as far away as South Korea. Fast forward to 2017 and the novelty has worn off. There are now far more bars; they’re dotted around Europe and they’ve reached North America in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec with more set to open in the near future. This means that the company has had to worker harder to become more creative and smart with their local activations.

With partners on board including Monster, Discord, Alienware and more however, and some exciting plans for its expansion which Metz is ‘not ready to reveal quite yet’, it’s safe to say Meltdown has great potential. She told DGR attendees “it’s important to reach a wider audience” and Meltdown has a number of plans for how to do just that.

Esports Insider says: Metz is spot on when she says there are huge opportunities for brands in regards to local activations and ‘grassroots esports’. We’re excited to see the delivery of Tribe and what other big plans Meltdown has coming up. All we need now is a Meltdown to open in our part of London….