Serious South African gamers are flocking to this R7 million premium gaming lounge in Claremont, Cape Town.
It is a one-of-a-kind hardcore hub where gamers can play on R60,000 computers, drive on the top car-racing rigs, rent out a streaming studio, and explore virtual reality.
The ATK Arena is the brainchild of Warren Barkhuizen, a former hedge fund investor who targeted esports as a potential investment opportunity. He spent a year looking for a space to rent, because no one believed his concept could make money – until he managed to sign a 6-month lease and open the ATK Shack, a smaller proof of concept store.
With R2 million worth of gear, the Shack version showed the model worked.
"Timing has been incredibly important on this. If I had done it three years ago it would have been a terrible investment. Two years ago, it would have also been a terrible investment. A year ago and fast forward to where we are now, people are starting to understand there’s a market here," said Barkhuizen.
Slow internet connections, long distances to servers, inferior equipment, and the need for a consistent competitive environment are some of the barriers Barkhuizen wants to knock down.
“The main motivating factor was when I looked at where teams are housed, there was nothing on the African continent like this. Teams have physically had to move out of South Africa in order to compete on the global arena. It tells you there’s a foundation issue here. LANs are no better than what I did 15 years ago when we would whack together a server in our digs and go for it.”
Barkhuizen wants the Arena to become the home base for local epsorts teams to practice and compete.
It’s also backed on to the idea that kids don’t want to lug their heavy rigs to LANs anymore, which can be quite a mission if you are serious about your gaming.
"The social impact is pretty cool to see. We had two kids come meet up here for the first time after playing online together for two years."
The venue is proving to be so popular even the parents are getting in on the action and starting to play games for themselves.
"One or two moms would come and say they weren’t into games and they were only for kids. We encouraged them top try, and the next thing you know they’re sitting there swearing at the monitors and getting more into the game than their kids."
With a 500MB business fibre line line; Asus 144hz monitors; and Nvidia 1080 Ti GPUs with 16GB RAM, these machines make your home computer look like a joke.
They're worth R5,965 each, if you want one for your home setup.
Much like old-style arcades, the computers log you off once your time is spent – so there is not point to begging to play just 10 minutes longer.
Perfect if you need a break from staring at a screen for hours.
A Fortnite party will set you back R1,500 for up to five kids, and R250 per each kid after that. The package comes with two hours of game time, a half-hour session in the gym, and if you want, they know a guy who can make you a Fortnite-themed cake at an additional cost.
Local streamers get access to a soundproof room equipped with a Corsair-sponsored Elgato sound studio. Prices have not yet been published as yet.
South African vlogger and competitive esports player Julia 'Bish' Robson used their studio over December and said it is the coolest esports arena in Africa.
Watching competitive esports is getting even bigger than playing it, and this is a great place to enjoy it.
ATK has also partnered with a local Hudson’s The Burger joint that delivers food right to the lounge.
It has also been used for informal sleepovers during overnight LANs. The couches proved to be very comfy.
Perfect for parents to leave their kids to their own devices, while they go shopping.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: