12 Years of Innovation and Counting at Battlefield Sports
By Canditta Natakuapa
As my 12th anniversary of working at Battlefield Sports fast approaches, I found myself reflecting on how much things have changed.
We have done so much, developed so much, and how our customers’ needs have changed. Technology has changed at a fast pace and Battlefield Sports always invests in research and development. Center to our R&D is considering how our customers have changed and if we are still meeting their needs.
In 2005 we had a number of fixed locations where people came to us and we run a combat entertainment experience. The system was simple but so were the needs of our gamers back then. Looking back I don’t know how we did it. Running events needed twice the number of staff compared to today’s scenarios. Luckily the staffing costs then weren’t like they are now.
Around the same time, we were not happy with the return on investment of traditional advertising. Our market was changing it wasn’t responding to tradition marketing the way it used to. We looked at a way to get our gaming guns in the hands of as many people as possible. Where would we find mass numbers of people looking to play games? Fetes and festivals with inflatable barricades and small gaming guns we could set up on a field and run fast short games, really just a little taste of what they could experience at our fixed field. What a response we got! At first, it blew us away. We were surprised and delighted with these new mobile laser tag events. After running a sporting team fete our bookings jumped at the forest Mt Cotton field and all I heard from the kids was how they played this at their football club. Since then we run this event every year.
As video games became more advanced, immersive and tactical, we did too. I remember the day running at the Mt Crosby battlefield, I was walking behind a group that had just finished. One of the girls said to the others “I think I got someone.” I was in shock, here was this gamer that wasn’t sure that if during the four games if she had got another gamer. It showed that our gamers’ needs had changed. Whereas in the past players were happy with the classic system where you could see if someone was being shot but you didn’t know if you were the one that did it.
Then came a lot of requests for private events. The times had changed and people wanted to host a party with just their own friends and family. And they were willing to pay extra for the privilege. So we developed a Backyard Laser Tag package where we would go and run the party in their yard. It was a massive success, we were booked out and faced with turning away business. We had the laser tag equipment available but not enough trained staff. After a crisis meeting (turning away a booking to us is a crisis) we had a plan to do DIY rentals. This was in 2008 and this side of the business has been growing ever since. In the first 3 years, it had more than 30% growth each year. We have now expanded and ship the DIY packs all over Australia. We have grown to an armory size of over 1,000 gaming guns.
In 2009 Battlefield Sports introduced the SATR system. SATR gave gamers instant gratification and offered an intense sensory experience. Gamers now knew exactly when they GOT ‘EM! Add the introduction of video game-inspired scenarios as well and we had the complete package to WOW them once again. I saw the difference it made on the field and by the comments at the end. This new version of the software also improved the rental offer for customers.
We now have many types of customers, mobile fete/festivals, those who want a private party, and those who want to come to our location and have us run it. We have developed equipment, software and scenarios to fit with the needs of each of these types of customers. I think this is one of the keys to our success. Not being fixed, always improving and evolving all sides of our business.
Looking back at what we have achieved over the last 12 years I have to admit I am a bit excited to see where we go from here. I would never have guessed that 12 years ago we would be shipping equipment all over the country for DIY parties. How will our customers change and how will we meet their needs? What does the next generation of technology hold?
I can’t wait to find out.