The chain said business was 'turned upside down' by the pandemic.
GameWorks, a six-unit eatertainment chain offering full-service food and beverages alongside video games, has shut down permanently due to the pandemic.
"Thank you for the many years of memories! The past 20 months and counting we have seen our business turned upside down and the continued slow economic recovery has left us no choice other than to close," the company wrote on its website.
At the time of closing, GameWorks operated locations in Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Seattle, and Tabletop Tap House in San Francisco, which also closed for good. Each venue offered hundreds of arcade games, esports lounges, and other options, such as bowling, billiards, and laser tag. The company prided itself as a leader in esports and expressed a commitment to "providing pro and casual gamers alike with an optimized experience." The menu was controlled by The Works Kitchen, which served hand-stretched pizzas, dry-rubbed wings, and milkshakes.
The company was created in the late 1990s as a joint venture among Sega, Universal Studios, and DreamWorks, with Steven Spielberg providing creative input. DreamWorks left the partnership in 2001. Three years later, GameWorks filed for bankruptcy, and Sega took full control. The company filed for bankruptcy a second time in 2010 and was later sold to investment group HNR Capital. In 2017, esports company Oomba acquired GameWorks for $17 million. Shortly afterward, Oomba shut down and ExWorks Capital stepped in as the new owner.
In September 2020, GameWorks attempted to spur growth by filing for an IPO. Documentation showed that since August 2017, the company had experienced three consecutive years of losses totaling $28.9 million, and the chain acknowledged that it may not be able to achieve profitability in the near term or at all.
"At this time, we are unable to determine the duration or extent to which COVID-19 will continue to affect our business," GameWorks wrote in its SEC filing. "Our inception to date operating results coupled with COVID-19 related uncertainties have raised concerns with respect to our liquidity."
On November 23, the IPO was declared abandoned by the SEC.
GameWorks was one of several eatertainment chains that suffered through the pandemic. Chuck E. Cheese and Punch Bowl Social both declared bankruptcy, and Dave and Buster's warned of potential court proceedings at one point.