A Dream of Mine...

Myself and a friend of mine have had this idea in our heads for quite a while and never really known how to go about it. Lets put aside just for the moment that we have no knowledge of business whatsoever and focus on the idea. I know these things have been done before mainly cyber cafes etc but i was thinking more along the lines of the following.

wall mouted tv's with 360's and ps3's hooked up with large sofas around for group gaming sessions. Imagine a large open room with about 20 machines running. Not sure whether it would be feasible to get it all hooked up to live to actually have online or who you would go about networking them together form the group play as i have only ever either gone online myself. Live has roaming profiles now doesn't it?

Maybe better to have a private network though i guess for more of a community feel. Can arrange leaderboards and tourneys etc and ideally would have a lounge area and possbly a cafe type area involved as well to be more social.

Basically a kind of friendly place that kids and young adults (or older) can come and play games and be social at the same time and even their parents can come chat or drop them in while they shop etc. I was thinking about setting this up or more accurately thinking about thinking about setting up something along these lines as a business and wondered what peoples thoughts on the idea are.

As i said no business knowledge so not really thinking about that side of it right now. I mean the most i have thought about that is comparing it to a local snooker club which basically charges me about £7 for 2 hrs so would consider similar rates and taken into account various leases and licences and bills etc. I have only run the most basic on numbers for estimated potential income and expenses.

Consider this the beginnings of market research. If such a thing was open in the centre of your town or city would you go? What would you want to see there or more appropriately what would attract you to a place like this to play your games socially?

Obviously i am in the UK but would certainly be keen to hear the views or experiences of similar things in the US too.

All thoughts and opinions appreciated.

15 Comments
16 Comments
Posted by GunslingerX1983

Myself and a friend of mine have had this idea in our heads for quite a while and never really known how to go about it. Lets put aside just for the moment that we have no knowledge of business whatsoever and focus on the idea. I know these things have been done before mainly cyber cafes etc but i was thinking more along the lines of the following.

wall mouted tv's with 360's and ps3's hooked up with large sofas around for group gaming sessions. Imagine a large open room with about 20 machines running. Not sure whether it would be feasible to get it all hooked up to live to actually have online or who you would go about networking them together form the group play as i have only ever either gone online myself. Live has roaming profiles now doesn't it?

Maybe better to have a private network though i guess for more of a community feel. Can arrange leaderboards and tourneys etc and ideally would have a lounge area and possbly a cafe type area involved as well to be more social.

Basically a kind of friendly place that kids and young adults (or older) can come and play games and be social at the same time and even their parents can come chat or drop them in while they shop etc. I was thinking about setting this up or more accurately thinking about thinking about setting up something along these lines as a business and wondered what peoples thoughts on the idea are.

As i said no business knowledge so not really thinking about that side of it right now. I mean the most i have thought about that is comparing it to a local snooker club which basically charges me about £7 for 2 hrs so would consider similar rates and taken into account various leases and licences and bills etc. I have only run the most basic on numbers for estimated potential income and expenses.

Consider this the beginnings of market research. If such a thing was open in the centre of your town or city would you go? What would you want to see there or more appropriately what would attract you to a place like this to play your games socially?

Obviously i am in the UK but would certainly be keen to hear the views or experiences of similar things in the US too.

All thoughts and opinions appreciated.

Edited by Canteu
Posted by Hizang

Sounds amazing, I would totally go, or thinking about it maybe not. I can picture some right little shits coming down, I would go if it had an age limit, so 18+.

Posted by GunslingerX1983

I did yes a little while ago i wanted to see if there were any new thoughts.

That is the one things that would worry me is that it could attract the wrong crowd but only proper marketing and management will help with that. If it could attract a community like places like this does then it would be ok.

Edited by Phyrlord

I remember in my first year of college we had to take a business class. We had to write a large essay on a business idea we had. Mine was very similar to yours. The thing is, you want to give people a reason to get out of their houses and come to your location. All I see is you offering things people have at your home.

One idea I had was a tournament room. Where you would pay an entrance fee to get in or a higher hourly rate. This room would have a special system where 5-10 players were selected at random to play in a deathmatch match of some game. Places 1st/2nd/3rd would win money from the pot. This would happen once an hour for people who weren't already playing. This room could maybe hold 10-30 stations.

EDIT. Wanted to expand on the idea..

So lets say your normal rate for playing is 5$ an hour and to play in your tournament room you ask 10$. Lets say say your at max capacity, you have 30 people playing that's 150 in the pot an hour. You base the winnings on current pot count so maybe %70 for 1st 20% for 2nd and 10% on 3rd. That would be 105$/30$/15$. You could also add in a feature if a person plays in two torment rounds in a row they are excluded from the selection for 1 round. This would make it balance out a little for people who are not getting picked.

You wouldn't be making extra money on this room but I think it would be a huge attraction personally.

Edited by BiffMcBlumpkin

@GunslingerX1983 said:

Basically a kind of friendly place that kids and young adults (or older) can come and play games and be social at the same time and even their parents can come chat or drop them in while they shop etc. I was thinking about setting this up or more accurately thinking about thinking about setting up something along these lines as a business and wondered what peoples thoughts on the idea are.

When I was a kid we called these arcades, and all of them shit the bed about 50 years ago. Replacing the cabs with consoles doesn't make it any more sound a business strategy.

Posted by Raven10

I've seen a couple of places do this. I think I once saw one in San Diego. Basically it was in a mall and you could pay a fee to come in and game on their high end home theater systems with some buddies. Never really appealed to me and I don't know anyone who ever went but if I recall correctly it always looked pretty busy. So I guess such a thing has been successful.

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

The reason the net cafe model with PCs work is because you can pack a large number of people into a small amount of real estate, and they have flexibility in whether they want to play Dota, CS, or masturbate furiously in a corner.

The console and comfy couch model causes issues, because you immediately have limitations on space used versus number d customers served. Add in the fact that you are making your customers interact with each other (I.e. shithead 13 year old versus ultra competitive 30 year old) and you have a recipe for unpleasantness.

Also, sound would be a crucial factor here; even a dozen people in a room playing multiplayer games would make actually hearing the game itself completely untenable without noise cancelling headphones, as the couch console environment will lead to a lot of shit talking, laughing, etc, combined with the cacophony of the games themselves; if you have headphone, you ruin the atmosphere you are trying to cultivate.

Furthermore, real estate space is generally at a premium for shops in cities, meaning you would either be severely limited in how many people you could have at a time, or you'd be paying a fortune on property.

The only time I've seen this model work has been when it's been combined with a traditional net cafe (in which it was a bit of a distraction from the real gaming), or in bars where it is also a sideshow.

I'm not trying to shit on your idea duder, and it's something I think has potential, but the business realities of it I think might be tougher than you realise.

Edited by Grimhild

There was a place that did this not far from me and floundered immediately, I suspect because most of the target customers already had these means at home. There's aaaaaaaa lot of overhead that you have to compensate for, even when you're running your own business as the primary employee.

My advice, as in what I think may have kept the establishment open near me, is that you need to have something other than just games there to pull in the gaming crowd; like food or alcohol, but that's an entire new can of worms as far as permits and upkeep are concerned.

Posted by Aelric

I'm currently in Bangkok and that pretty much is what an arcade cabinet is here, A 360 with a pay for time reset timer and installed games locked in a squat cabinet. I see them in the malls and such, running games that never had arcade versions, like Final Fantasy 13 and Dead Rising 2.

I've also lived in South Korea for two years and they had smaller versions of what you describe everywhere. Gamebangs (I know that looks funny, but bang (pronounced 'bong') means 'room' in Korean). They were only small commercial spaces, the size of a small cafe, with dividers inside making booths, though some rooms were communal. You could pick a few game from the front desk, buy an hour or two for about $2 per hour and chill out in the booth, which usually seated 4 and had a comfy couch. Usually could get coffee or beer and snacks delivered to the booth as well.

Here is the thing. You NEVER saw kids there. It was always college kids. could be due to Korea's starcraft love making the younger crowd move over to the PCbangs instead, but usually all you see at a gamebang is college kids in the afternoon playing Wii and waiting for their friends to go to the bars. There were seedy elements too, like if you wanted to get some porn or drugs (porn is semi-illegal there. It's complicated) that was your place. Never saw a clean one.

Except in Japan, where they have the same thing, but due to the ubiquitous nature of consoles over there, they cater to all ages, though it's more like one whole business is for the kids and a separate one looks to cater to adults. Also, the Japanese rooms ALWAYS looked cleaner to me and less sketchy.

Here is the thing. These are both countries with tiny amounts of land, thus even small towns are 'urbanized', building tall mulch-purpose buildings instead of outwards. What does that got to do with it? proximity. Everyone is close to everything everywhere. These businesses thrive not of attracting the passing through crowd, or the off-shoping crowd. They attract the neighborhood crowd, most their customers go there instead of buying a pc or console. The socialize like a bar, there know the other customers, it's like Cheers.

America is the opposite. It's spread out, even in the major cities. We don't like to openly socialize with total strangers, despite having friendly dispositions. We don't give our kids a lot of freedom to roam without supervision like Asia. It all adds up to the same thing that killed the arcade: It's not safe for kids in our head, too many adults are not interested in it because they are not ready to admit to liking games and we just plain don't live so close to places that could house such a venture.

Its a shame, too. I mourn the loss of the arcade, and I've liked participating in gamebangs in Korea. I think it would be awesome. I just don't see it being successful.

Posted by Slag

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

I'm not trying to shit on your idea duder, and it's something I think has potential, but the business realities of it I think might be tougher than you realise.

Sad but completely on point.

I would even go one step further that is near to impossible to succeed in something like this. Someone just opened one of these in my city. Will be interesting to see if they make it work....

Posted by Draugen

You know what just happened? You just openly shared your idea in the internet. The idea is mine now. I'm making it happen as we speak. Only with celebrities at every screen, telling the player how awesome they are. You try to muscle in on my turf, I will break you.

Check your wardrobe drawers. Second from the top. You see those incriminating photos of you? I just had them planted there. One word from me, they'll be in every paper, blog and news show this time tomorrow.

Welcome to the real world, kid.

Posted by GunslingerX1983

@Draugen said:

You know what just happened? You just openly shared your idea in the internet. The idea is mine now. I'm making it happen as we speak. Only with celebrities at every screen, telling the player how awesome they are. You try to muscle in on my turf, I will break you. Check your wardrobe drawers. Second from the top. You see those incriminating photos of you? I just had them planted there. One word from me, they'll be in every paper, blog and news show this time tomorrow. Welcome to the real world, kid.

Hahaha

@Slag said:

@Tim_the_Corsair said:

I'm not trying to shit on your idea duder, and it's something I think has potential, but the business realities of it I think might be tougher than you realise.

Sad but completely on point.

I would even go one step further that is near to impossible to succeed in something like this. Someone just opened one of these in my city. Will be interesting to see if they make it work....

Thanks for the feedback all, i realize that it would be a very tough idea to make happen as i am quite happy to game at home myself and have little to none business sense. The types of people mixing would be a definite issue especially here in the UK. I will continue to think about it and maybe as some have suggested, think of other ways to offer the business and make the gaming side more of a side offering.

Posted by Slag

@GunslingerX1983 said:

Thanks for the feedback all, i realize that it would be a very tough idea to make happen as i am quite happy to game at home myself and have little to none business sense. The types of people mixing would be a definite issue especially here in the UK. I will continue to think about it and maybe as some have suggested, think of other ways to offer the business and make the gaming side more of a side offering.

yeah that's a good plan.

talk to some business owners, talk to gameshop owners, restaurant owners, bar owners, anybody that has a retail-ish first floor business that's open to the general public. talk to lots of people. Pick their brain about what can happen in service business, what works what doesn't, what you can expect etc. Then after that run some numbers and figure what you'd have to gross in sales to make what you consider to be an acceptable amount of money, if you and some trusted advisors think you have a reasonable shot of making it then ask yourself if you would be willing to work long hours to make it happen. If you say yes to all that then go for it!

All the best to you whatever you decide to do!

Posted by LikeaSsur

This sounds like it could work, but you need something more than just video games, as has been stated constantly. I'm thinking a coffee house like place would do the trick, with snacks for sale as well. Nothing too crumbly or messy, but things like chips, salads, and perhaps hotdogs and hamburgers? I dunno, whatever is the local delicacy that won't mess up hands, which would in turn mess up the controllers.

Also, this is more of a long term thing, but after your community has been established, you'll need a way to help newcomers integrate themselves. Things like etiquette and rules should be somewhere for all to see so everyone is on equal footing at all times and there can be no misunderstanding.

Maybe an interesting idea is when a new blockbuster game comes out, you could market yourself as a "try it here first" place, so people can come play the game without having to buy/rent it and commit to it.

Posted by Gamer_152

@GunslingerX1983: You're perfectly aware that you've already created this thread, almost word for word. We can't just allow users to duplicate their threads when they decide they want more responses, it would clutter the forums and wouldn't be fair on the community as a whole. I'm locking this.

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