Brookfield Invests In New Gaming Startup, Plans 1,000 Locations
One of the world’s largest retail owners is betting on experiential retail post-pandemic.
Brookfield Asset Management participated in an $11M funding round to London-based gaming retailer Electric Gamebox to propel an expansion into 1,000 new storefronts over the next five years, the company announced last week.
"We are thrilled to be working with such legendary investors to accelerate our mission to bring people together through shared play,” Electric Gamebox CEO and co-founder Will Dean said in a statement. “The future of retail is experiential and we can’t wait to be a part of this transformation.”
Electric Gamebox, which opened its first U.S. location last December in Dallas, allows two to six people to play an immersive video game in smart rooms with touch screens, motion tracking and surround sound — virtual reality gaming without a headset. Some 10,000 people have played at the Dallas location in the past six months, the company stated.
Over the next year, Electric Gamebox is set to open stores at several malls owned by Brookfield Properties including Oakbrook Center in Chicago, The Woodlands Mall in Houston and Fashion Place in Salt Lake City, according to the company. It will also open stores in Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and Ballston Quarter in Arlington, Virginia.
Developers in global shopping destinations have reimagined iconic retail strips as centers for experience in recent years. Meanwhile, mall owners across the country took on millions in debt to add experiential attractions to their buildings, hoping to lure shoppers that could otherwise skip the mall and buy online. In the pandemic era, these expansions have left mall owners severely over-leveraged, The Wall Street Journal reported. But post-pandemic experiential retail may provide a bump to storefronts everywhere, according to a March S&P Global Marketplace report.
Brookfield owns a retail portfolio spanning 120M SF and 122 malls, making it one of the largest mall owners in the world, according to Million Acres. BAM is the parent company of Brookfield Property Partners, a real estate investment trust it is in the process of taking private. Brookfield plans to hand over several of its struggling malls to lenders as part of the transaction.