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Fortress Melbourne has just opened its doors. We were lucky enough to be present at the opening ceremony. A giant gaming lever was pulled to signify this prestigious occasion, and fans lined up from 7 a.m. to get their first look. The venue is incredibly amazing. But is this just the beginning? We sat down with Mads “Shadowfax” Brown, the Head of Product at Fortress Australia, to get all the inside information.
— ✨ 🍩 Michelle Mannering (@MishManners) March 13, 2020
Is Melbourne the home of esports? How does Fortress fit in?
Melbourne is becoming Australia’s home of esports, with massive events like PAX, MEO, and IEM all coming to it. Mads sees Fortress as an add-on to what’s already happening, not a replacement. She told us the following:
The way I feel about Fortress fitting into the gaming ecosystem is kind of like a home base for it all. There’s so many amazing people and companies doing amazing things in gaming, and there’s massive events like PAX and MEO and IEM, all the way to community events and cosplay, and fashion and food, and everything that revolves around gaming. I really feel that Fortress can be that 24/7, 365-days-a-year home base for anyone who loves gaming or anything to do with gaming culture. So we’re not really here to be the be-all and end-all of the gaming industry; we’re just here to support it and facilitate it.
But why Melbourne over Sydney? Why are all these events converging on Melbourne? Some would say it’s because there are lots of other global events — like the Australian Open, the Test Cricket, or even international festivals. But Mads says it’s something much more strategic. According to her, government bodies are more open and supportive in Melbourne:
The big thing is the Melbourne government is just way more supportive than any other state government in Australia. They’ve been really fantastic, from the city level all the way up to the state level. There’s been so much support for Fortress as a place of cultural significance, and a way of attracting talent and upskilling people and providing jobs for people in the gaming industry that didn’t exist before we were here. And also as kind of like a tourism thing too — we sort of see ourselves as the Disneyland of gaming!”
The ultimate home for gamers is officially open 🥳
Join us for the Fortress Melbourne Open Day for limited 'Day One' shirts, free PC gaming, cosplayers and all-day egg and bacon rolls! pic.twitter.com/yIqECVe7Tq
— Fortress Melbourne (@FortressMelb) March 13, 2020
The Disneyland of gaming might be coming to you
The Disneyland of gaming: This notion from Mads is quite true to the way gamers see venues like this. But like the real Disneyland, the plan isn’t to have it located in just one place. Eventually, the plan is to have Fortress everywhere! When we asked Mads if there was a bigger plan for Fortress, she excitingly said the following:
Absolutely! We really see Fortress being around Australia in every major city, and even in smaller regional centres as well. So then everyone can get access to games. It’s really a huge thing for us to make gaming accessible, not just to hardcore gamers and gamers, but people who are looking at getting into gaming. Or people who feel intimidated by the whole gaming or esports scene. They don’t really know how to interact or where to go; we see ourselves as facilitating that connection — and bringing people together who have similar passions and are like-minded.
There you have it. You heard it here first! And who knows? Once Fortress Australia is solidified, Fortress might even come to a city near you.
Fortress finally open
Mads and the team are incredibly humbled to see Fortress Melbourne finally opened. Fortress has been in the planning stages for a number of years, and now it’s come to pass. The team is incredibly focused on receiving feedback from anyone and everyone. The team understands it’s all a work in progress. As Mads told us, to start off with, Fortress is focused on this:
Doing our core activities well and making sure everyone who walks through the door has a great customer experience. Everything we do revolves around gamers, and gamers coming in and having a good time. So we’ll do everything we can to make that happen. Our biggest plan is to figure out what people want. This is something we’ve never done before. There’s really nothing quite like this around the world, and we’ve made a lot of assumptions based on our own research and data, but we really won’t know what people value until they come in and tell us — what they like, what they don’t like. So we’re really focused on getting a huge amount of feedback.
To their credit, the team at Fortress understands they’ve made these assumptions and are dedicated to building it into what gamers want. If you’re lucky enough to visit the venue, Mads and her team will be personally walking around collecting in-person feedback.
Merchandise and memberships
Like all good esports and gaming events, there’s some exclusive swag you can pick up at Fortress. Those who were at the opening event were able to purchase the limited edition Day One T-shirt. Mads says the plan is to have limited edition merchandise at lots of their events:
A lot of the merch we’re making now and in the future is really to commemorate the physicality and the social aspect of gaming. So having merch around specific events to say you were there and you experienced it firsthand is something we really focus on!
And if you want some limited edition pins, check out the Fortress membership tiers below and at their website.
Congratulations are in order for Mads and the team. If you’re in Melbourne for your next event — gaming or otherwise — be sure to drop in and check out Fortress Melbourne!
Michelle is a Content Producer in the realms of innovation and technology. Known as the “Hackathon Queen” 👑 you'll often find her on stage MC’ing or speaking on a range of topics from artificial intelligence, to business, community engagement, the future of work, and esports. With a background in both science and arts, Michelle writes extensively on a range of topics including innovation, startups, corporate culture, esports, business development, and more. She has a passion for gaming and combines this with her experience in a range of industries. Michelle brings a unique insight into esports innovation and draws many parallels between the physical world of sport, and the digital world of esports.