Atthention Gamers - Need Your Feedback

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Greg_Gibson, Jan 10, 2002.

  1. Greg_Gibson

    Greg_Gibson Auditioning

    Nov 29, 2000
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    On and off for the past year and a half I have considered opening a LAN Gaming Center. I have done a substantial amount of research on this subject and in fact, have visited a number of LAN gaming centers around the country to see how they operate.
    Unfortunatly, most places don't seem to survive for more than a couple of years and the ones still in operation are barely profitable. That said, many of these places are undercapitalized from the start and run by people who think gaming is cool but don't know squat about running a business.
    I am in the Washington, DC suburbs...Northern Virginia to be exact. This area is one of the most affluent areas of the country. In fact, Fairfax County, Virginia has the highest median household income in the United States and we are second only to Silicon Valley in the technology industry. There were two lan gaming centers in the area and both have bitten the dust in the past 3 months. Both were certainly undercapitalized and their only product was gaming. Sixteen computers at $5/hour yields a very limited income.
    I am curious if any of the gamers here at HTF have ever been to a Lan Gaming Center and what ingredients you think is necessary to make one successful.
    I have come to the conclusion that a gaming only place just doesn't drive enough revenue to survive on it's own. Below are a couple of ideas we are kicking around. I'm interested in which scenario sounds most interesting to you as a potential customer.
    A. A cybercafe atmosphere with coffee bar (and limited food menu) with a technology center that allows customers to do digital imaging, video editing/production, DVD authoring as well as multi-player gaming. Kind of a techno-hangout where people can use and learn about the latest in computer technology.
    B. A sports bar atmosphere with billiards, darts, alcoholic beverages in addition to computer gaming. With this type of atmosphere it would be very easy to do sports related tie-ins to games. For example, on Daytona 500 weekend you could hold a tournament race where customers could actually race on the Daytona track against other players in the bar...or during Masters week you could hold a golf tournament where customers play against one another on the Augusta National course. The downside of this type of place is that with the addition of alcohol you lose a segment of the market (minors) but the upside is that your have a more adult clientele.
    Currently I am leaning towards the sports bar scenario (if I pursue this at all). Does this sound like the kind of place you would frequent?
    If you respond, please include your age (ballpark is fine if you don't want to be specific [​IMG] ) The Interactive Digital Software Association says that the average age of a computer gamer is 28. However, this hasn't proven itself to be a reality, at least in the lan gaming centers I have visited.
    Thanks in advance for your input.
    Greg Gibson
  2. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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    I'd go with the sports bar-ish scenario. You'd lose kids, true, but the adults you'd pick up probably have more money. You're also not betting on as much technology with unknown appeal (the digital editing/DVD authoring stuff), and you won't necessarily have to upgrade as often as you would if you're primarily trying to appeal to the techie crowd.

    Would I frequent it... I personally doubt it, since I don't drink (seeing how my living room isn't exactly a monument to self-control, I don't think I should cultivate a taste for alcohol) and never really got into networked gaming, as appealing as it often seemed. On the other hand, if I ever did cave and go to a bar and meet people, that is the kind of place I'd probably go.

    Oh, and I'm 28.
  3. Jason Handy

    Jason Handy Second Unit

    Oct 3, 2001
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    I don't like the sports bar idea, mostly because the background noise level is typically pretty high in a bar, and this could interfere with the gaming experience. Unless of course you had a soundproofed room with the computers - but that kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it...

    I also think that serving alcohol would drive up your equipment replacement costs. Drunk people tend to break things, either through belligerence or simple drunken stupidity. It just wouldn't do to have J6P, wasted, and pissed off that he just lost the race (or the frag). The keyboard may just go through the monitor...

    I like the internet cafe idea better, because I think it is the type of establishment techie geeks would go instead of sports bar. But that is just me.

    One thing that just may work to draw new people in would be to offer reasonably priced seminars that will bring newbies into the fray. Nothing is more daunting that your first foray into multiplayer get creamed! If you are experienced with FPS, for example, you can offer a 2 hour seminar for about $20 that goes over basic strategies. You can have saved games ready to go to illustrate a particular srafing technique, etc. The same idea goes for things like real-time strategy games, or simulations.

    Holding tournaments would be a great way to stimulate business.

    Hope this helps. I am 27, a computer gamer since the Commodore 64 era (1986ish).

  4. David_Li

    David_Li Auditioning

    Dec 8, 2001
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    I've been to a LOT of lan cafes small and large, especially around here in the Los Angeles area. By far the most successful ones are near college campuses. I'm not talking about technical schools or community colleges but actual universities where the young adults usually come from high to middle income families and have cash to toss around. Also it'd be relatively easy to advertise in a student newspaper for a couple hundred bucks and draw a decent customer base. For this audience your planned A) is the best option. Lan tournaments and the like also draw a decent crowd and serve as good advertising.
    You're right though..your emphasis doesn't necessarily have to be "gaming" but one problem with mixing things like a bar with lan is that you may end up paying tons of overhead. You have to factor in liquor license..age limits for your lan cafe and you'd also have to advertise in the right medium to draw your intended audience. I'm not entirely sure if most adults would take the idea seriously..since not all sports fans are bigtime computer jocks either [​IMG]. The two genres just may not mesh well and you may end up losing out on both markets.
  5. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator

    Mar 4, 2001
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    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    I'm 30. Male. Been playing games off and on for 20 years.
    First, I would not spend much time or money at a "Game Cafe". That's just not my thing. Another potential problem: the people who care enough about games to pay money to play, have done so. They've bought the hardware and play games at home.
    That said, I suggest looking at the chain Gillians as an example. It is a all-in-one super bar, entertainment center for professionals. They've got: sports bars, cigar room, billiards, restaurants, arcades (with linked, multi-player games), bowling, and music.
    Also, $5/hr is far too little. It should be at least $10/hr, and should use a debit card system like Gillians. You buy point cards -- something like 680 points/dollar -- in $5, $10, etc. intial values. The games accept the cards only and use anywhere from 200 to 2000 points (roughly $0.50 - $2.00) $5, $10, etc. This has two benefits (for the company): don't have to fool with loose change and such, and people don't pay attention to spending $x/hr, but to playing games. It encourages people to spend more money and not watch the clock.
    I think that many places make their money in food. A Billiards place I went to recently had about 20 - 30 tables, with a lot of space between them. It cost less than $10/hr for a table, for two people. This was a new, well-kept, attractive place, in a higher-rent area of the city. I'd be surprised if the tables cover much more than their own cost. But they have a bar, and servers that frequent the tables, encouraging you buy drinks, snacks, etc. I bet that's where the money is at.
    Perhaps cheap games and expensive munchies is the way to go. Throw in some party rooms for birthdays and parties. Mayeb that's a starter.
    (I've no business savvy at all, so take this with a grain of salt [​IMG] )
  6. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

    Feb 11, 2001
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    My friend owns a cybercafe. We bill it as an Internet Gaming Center, since the only food is provided by a few vending machines. He was insanely profitable during the summer, with school being out and all. Things have slowed down now, but he's still doing well. We're looking at ways to diversify our offerings to bring in more proffits. Check out his store at
  7. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

    Mar 19, 2001
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    Pretty much the last thing I want to do if I am out at a bar or on my free recreational time is sit at a computer and rip discs, or image edit, or anything like that.
    You are probably better off starting something like 'Dave and Busters'. Something like that giant arcade in the movie "Hackers" Chuck E. Cheese, except with an adult theme, and an greatly expanded menu (ie, not just pizza). That might do OK. You might even throw in a couple of dance floors with some hard techno and trance... have some big projection displays up running some cool looking video?
    Who knows?
    Best of luck [​IMG]
  8. Graeme Clark

    Graeme Clark Cinematographer

    Jan 5, 2000
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    There is a small gaming center called GO3 a few blocks from me. It's basically a room with 12 computers on a LAN, a Pop Machine, and a few cheap arcade machines.

    They only charge $3/hr (and that's Canadian) and from my understanding they pull in about $6000 a month. At $3, I hardly ever think about the costs, I can go there for a few hours after work with some of the guys and it only costs my $6-$8 usually. The only problem is that it's full almost every time we go (which is the only time anyone is playing the arcade machines).

    And they survive basically on Counterstrike (and not even Half-Life, retail Counterstrike so I can't get them to install Day of Defeat). Some of the computers have Diablo2, but only the owners play that, and some have Starcraft and Quake 3 Demo, but the only person I've ever seen play that is myself. It's pretty much Counterstrike, 24/7.

    I don't know how long they're going to be around for, but they are moving to a new location soon and I think planning to add some more computers.

    It's certainly nothing fancy, and no frills but I think it does alright due to it's low overhead, location right next to a High School and it's low cost. At $3 it's really a no brainer, at $5 I'd have to think about it a bit more, any more and I'd go home and play on my own computer. I usually end up going at least once a week, sometimes a few times per week.

    I'm 24, and the people I see in there range from about 12 or 13 to late 20s.
  9. Michael Cook

    Michael Cook Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 25, 2001
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    Thats a tuff business now adays. Mostly due to how far home gaming has come. Good luck with what ever you decide. There is a place called Damon Busters in Atlanta that does well. They have a restaraunt, bar, tons of video games, pool tables, and it is alway packed. It is a very big place though.
  10. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

    Apr 29, 2000
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    It's a very tough business. The "premier" games cafe in London just closed last week - 'The Playing Fields'. It was high profile, with a lot of media events there as well as lots of coverage by the UK gaming press etc.

    It still couldn't make any money.

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