Gaming Cafe/Arcade venture: Fighting Game Community I need your input PLEASE


#1

Sup Srk Family

Hope everyone is living good and enjoying life. This is your boy Koop here coming to the community for suggestions on a business adventure that me and my brother (aceturnedjoker) are planning on trying to get into. If anyone knows me or have been to my gatherings in the MD/VA/DC region know I can appease the FGC and I am serious about my business. Now the thing I want to plan on getting into is these “gaming cafes” I am starting to see pop up around my region and others as well. I am really thinking about venturing into that field not only to appeal to warcraft…halo…etc players but my fighting game family as well.

What I would like SRK to do is let me know WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE? How would you like to see the set up? Games? Please give genuine opinions. Vets of the FGC please give your full thoughts on area, atmosphere, and style.

Why, you ask? well ive been in the community for 12+yrs…before this site. I’ve witness the ups and downs. Beefs and rivaleries. Good and bad times. And with the future making the FGC lose its ability to “gather” and get the connection that once was lets say 5+ years ago or more. This could get that connection back or at least help in some sort of way. Everyone cries and complains, but never try to help or find a solution. I want to try.

Again, serious opinions and thoughts please. I ask mods to maybe sticky if possible cause planning is being executed now for the future. But one thing people fail to do BUSINESS WISE is get those that will be helping opinion. A timeline for this takes time so please don’t come at me for a timeline. I just need an imput as if we are catering to you.

Thanks for everything in advance.

***Anthony Carr aka Koop ***


#2

I am not a vet by any means, but I do have some business experience. I really like the idea, and wish someone would open a place where people could gather around here. There are a few questions that you need to ask yourself first however (and maybe you already have). I think the most important question is whether you are doing this for your main source of income or as a hobby-type operation. The next question would be whether the fighting games would be on consoles or on arcade machines? The only problem I would see with consoles is that I do not believe that games released on console, or the consoles themselves, are licensed to be used commercially.


#3

Thanks man. Everyone voice counts. No it will not be something that will be my main source of income. Not at all. Business wise I know how to handle, and work the financial ends. Its actually the part of making it get noticed an something the be place of interest if you would say.

Thanks again man. Appreciate it.


#4

Koop, you’re a really cool guy and this is the only reason I’ll say this up front.

We tried this stuff in Cali and it doesn’t work. It might work in Maryland; I don’t know. But these days in Cali, regular meetups are organized in people’s houses. Now, I personally don’t like to attend those things and would rather play in a neutral location, but for a lot of players it’s the only way to go. They don’t have to pay a price of admission, they can play whatever they want, and hang out with everyone there afterwards.

If you want to have a successful business in these regards, I can tell you three things off the bat that you need to do:

  1. Acquire a convenient, easy to find location.
  2. Spread word of mouth - tell all your friends to tell people about the cafe.
  3. Host weekly tournaments in order to increase the level of competition.

Back in the day when Zaza and I basically created RiCo out of a fragmented community, we held meetups in the UCR dormitory lounge room (the infamous Pentland meetups). That wasn’t a business, but we sure worked at it like it was one (and in retrospect, we probably should have charged an entrance fee).

Now this location wasn’t the greatest because university parking is a bitch and sometimes people wanted to use the lounge room for other things, but the Pentland meetups are already a point of legend within Riverside County, and our larger tournaments attracted big names like Viscant, Combofiend, Genghis and Potter.

With that said, I have one final piece of advice. Be fair, but just, when maintaining this business. A good rule of thumb is “two strikes and you’re out”. If people act up, or try to get floats in the weeklies or other essentially childish shit, you have to be ready to regulate. It’s not easy (and something I personally am not good at) but it has to be done.

Good luck if you go through with the enterprise.


#5

That’s probably true, but I don’t think gaming companies bother to check. There was, for a brief time, a fairly well-publicized console business in the San Diego area called Fight Club. It’s possible that it was closed due to this, but from what I’ve heard, it basically didn’t get any business for reasons I speak of in my previous post.


#6

Really Koop besides what Danny has said you have to remember that it is good to want to try to get a place for the normal fg crowd to play. What is important is remembering if this venture is going to work, you still have to draw in the regular people. Back in the day one of the strengths of the arcades is the fact that no matter if you sucked or not, everyone played and everyone enjoyed it. Of course this also means people cant be pompous, arrogant, egotistical jackasses, which seems to be hard for alot of people who know something about fighting games to do.

It also depends on how your going to do it. Do they need to bring there own sticks? Will there be sticks and or controllers there? How much will it cost? You have to make sure its worth the players time to comedown and play at your place.

As far as what games, to be honest (I know some people wont like some of the games I list) you need to have the hardcore and casual games there. A good list would be something like

MvC2
CvS2
MK 2 or Trilogy
SF Third Strike
DOA 4
TTT and Tekken 5
SC III

This is of course just a recommendation because it covers both groups of players.

The atmosphere like I said earlier needs to be clean and welcoming. If you have a bunch of assholes, the place is dead. If your serious about getting into this, you might want to try something like getting a vending machine in there, so people can stay within the store and get something to snack on.

Also since it seems your going to do more then FG, look into trying to get a group like MLG(as much as people here might dislike them) or some group like that to try to get tournamets going. While they maynot be good for FG, MLG has always been good with games like Unreal, Halo 2 etc etc.

Something to also consider is, are you going to have computers and how many.

Its a very expensive venture to try to get into with alot of potential pitfalls.


#7

While the whole fighting game thing is iffy no matter what, these days there are a lot of established PC Cafes catering to Halo/WoW/whatever. So at the very least, you should be able to do some market research on the profitability and risks of those. Chances are that the PC end of your business is going to be carrying most of the weight, and if you have the extra room to get a fighting game thing going, it might be moderately successful. I mean, if people are gonna be there for the PC stuff anyway, they might be more likely to get up and play some fighting games now and then. At least that would solve the problem of getting people into the same room as an arcade machine.

As far as arcades versus consoles, i think probably the most important reason to go with arcades is that most people don’t have arcades in their homes. Like with the PC end of it, you’re going to need high end PC’s with blazing fast connectoins to attract people. Same thing with the fighting game side of things. You need something to get people away from their consoles at home. Traditionally, that requirement has always been filled by “competition.” Going to the arcade, you expect people there and that’s something you can’t get at home. But i think, on the other hand, if you can manage to build a scene, you won’t really need the arcade machines anymore. The hard part is the first part. Once people think of it as a hot spot, you’re pretty much set.


#8

There was a business called “Wired” near where I live that had a PC cafe and an arcade.

Eventually the arcade games disappeared. People had high hopes, but apparently none of the arcade gamers wanted to put up with a business where they had to play second banana to Counterstrike geeks.


#9

I’ve gone to many of the console / gaming cafes in NYC (and one or two here in NJ) so I’ll just throw out what I’ve happened to notice, even if it’s been mentioned already. This is more business oriented (to an extent) than the pursuit of furthering the FGC.

  1. Location. Absurdly important. You could have everything your customers want, but if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, in a difficult area to get to, or just too far away, well then you’ll either end up with a concetrated group of folks who are willing to make the trek there, or much nooone at all. This is common sense mind you, something I’m quite certain you knew to keep in mind, but I brought it up regardless. As an example, TGA is agruably shaping up to be one of the finest arcades in the nation, but it’s a good five hours in midst of R.I, the smallest land mass on this entire side of the freaking Western hemisphere.

  2. Best of both worlds. I might be in the minority here, and it will end up costing you quite a bit more money as a result, but I highly suggest that your cafe / center offer both console and computer gaming. The console gaming is a given, but having the computers there will bring in an entirely variety (and amount) of folks in. Everyone from the FPS fans, to the WoW junkies, to just the folks who simply want to browse the internet or make use of Word. Obviously it is a bit much to get into, but in the end I think it’s worth it.

  3. Hold events, not tournaments. Anyone that knows YOU, or even knows someone who KNOWS YOU, or bloody knows someone who goes to SRK that knows someone else that somehow freaking knows you will just plain KNOW that you’ll be holding tournaments when this place gets up and running, that’s just a given. Get the other folks in now. Try out stuff like ‘anime or movie nights’, ‘lan parties’, ‘parties in general’, ‘kids night’, that sort of thing.

  4. Have fun. If you, above anyone and everyone else, just don’t seem to be enjoying it, then don’t force yourself to keep at it. ‘Gaming’ with others is great fun, but if it gets too tedious, or you’re not getting as much back as you put in, well then shake things up and remind yourself it’s all for fun.

I hope you find a place that doesn’t bleed your wallet. A cafe in NYC (a small console cafe composed of 6 tvs and literally nothing else) costs $8,000 a month, whilst one twice its sized and with the same amount of TV’s and comptuers to boot is $1,000 a month in NJ, so I really hope you find gold in that sense.

Good luck to you!


#10

Greatly appreciate input from everyone. Dasrik I may need to hit you up sometime for some other input.

keep em comin…

thanks yall


#11

Might be a smaller suggestion. But for the arcade, if possibly try including console gaming ports like those on that Tekken 5 machines. So if people are more comfortable with their own pad they could bring that in.

Other than that, try and get a sense of where people are gathered in your state and try to pick a location near the middle of it (preferably one in the middle of a shopping plaza or mall perhaps so you’ll always have a stream of people in the area anyway).

After setting up the place, put flyers around and try advertising on TV or something.


#12

The major problem with the “gaming cafe” idea is that we, as fighting game players, are unfortunately spread apart. You can probably find FPS players, Warcraft layers, etc. EVERYWHERE. But if the cafe idea is primarily focused on fighting video games, it is destined to fail.

What the cafe idea should center around is whatever type of gamers there are primarily focused in your local area. If fighting games are hot, then so be it, but if it’s something else, obviously you have to cater to that audience. Think about what is going to pay the bills, which will be constantly coming in on a monthly basis…it will probably be those coming in to play FPS on lan parties and such, rather than the fighting gamers.

You can learn a lot from the example of Stargate. Here was an arcade basically owned and operated by fighting game enthusiasts. It hosted numerous local tournaments and one major, Texas Showdown. For years it was THE place to be if you were ever in the area. However, after a few years it failed and was shut down. Why?

The answer is that there simply aren’t enough competitive fighting game players in the country to demand this sort of a place. Sure, a few times a year you’ll make some money with tournaments that people travel for, but what about the other 300 days? The days of “prime time Street Fighter” are long gone, and you no longer see lines at the arcade to play Capcom fighters. Most of the arcades in Connecticut (where I live) USED to be focused around bringing in a fighting game crowd. However, as the US arcade scene grew stale, and less and less fighters were released for arcade, these businesses were forced to convert over to gimmicky ticket games and 2-dollar-a-pop DDR games in order to stay afloat.

My best advice to you is this: do not expect to get rich, and do not even expect to make a profit from this idea. Even some of the best gaming cafes in the world have been saying that nobody is getting rich. HOWEVER, the important thing here is that if you can keep yourself in the black and you ENJOY doing what you’re doing, it’s all worth it. How many of us would kill to have a job we love to go to every single day?

SO, what you should do is figure out what your “staple income” is going to be in your area. What type of gamer is going to be keeping your doors open on a day-to-day basis? Will it be FPS computer gamers, or Halo players, or Warcraft players, or fighting gamers? Once you’ve decided that, build everything else around it. Sure, it’s great to have 20 Japanese head-to-head machines, but if it’s not making you any money then you’re not going to be able to keep it up. Cater to whoever is willing to spend their money in your arcade, THEN build around it with the things you like.

Also, one thing that always makes money is a refreshments center. Sell soda, pizza, snacks. Gamers who are going to be there for a few hours will definitely plop down a few bucks a day. Take a look at the Break: that refreshments counter is NEVER empty during a tournament or a weekend. Find something that you can do well, like hot dogs or a breaksteak, and people will pass the world that you’ve got cheap, tasty food.

I guess that’s all I’ve got. Good luck!


#13

Simple. Create a game store where you can buy/sell/trade new and used games, have an internet connection T1 style with Warcraft or whatever linked, have the home consoles there as well, AND have your 5 arcade cabinets wth the big name fighting games and prizes each month for tourneys. Create a system where the more you spend, the more rewards you get, like a Moviewatcher program.

I have yet to see someone do something like this…yet :wink:


#14

I suppose I’m just parroting at this point, but for a while my ‘dream’ for a great establishment has always essentially been an expanded LAN center / arcade that actually had a top-notch refreshments area (old-school style Archie Comics Chock’lit Shoppe baby) permeated in wireless internet, featuring TVs and computers and wireless all around and a few arcade games to cement the deal.

I’ve pretty much just been looking for someone with the capital or interest to jump into something like this with me. I don’t think it’d work in Miami. Maybe around where you are, this kind of thing would be more feasible.


#15

Koop postin from my bro’s comp…

Ive yet to hear what you guys would think would be ideal. Say u have the money to do so…dont worry about income…etc

WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO SEE IN THAT CAFE…WHAT GAMES…SETUP ETC…

trying to get input in that area as well

Thanks greatly yall


#16

http://www.myspace.com/dasrik


#17

I agree with a lot of other people have said. You need to get some other form of revenue going on to supplement fighting games making no money. Lets say you magically work that out. Don’t cater to fighting game players - cater to people who are going to actually come/spend money - the halo/madden crowd. Get them in there and sneak in fighting games from time to time. Everyone thinks they can play Ling in tekken so maybe throw on some tekken once you got players there. same with doa.

I think you need to think bigger than just having random marvel players show up - get mainstream gamers there and appease them, then slip in the fighting games.

Push games that shine when people are playing together - fps, mmorpgs, psp, ds (mario kart, have a night where people can have their dogs meet with nintendogs or some shit), etc.

As far as atmosphere - just something chill, inviting and doesn’t look like thugs would hang out there. People want to feel like their safe when they enter regardless of how old they are.

Good luck though!

Derek


#18

One thing to note though, some cities have stupid laws about now allowing ANY coin operated machinery. So pinball games, Tee Golf, and most definitely arcade games.

For if I had the money and didn’t give a shit about making a profit. I’d try and make it as high tech as possible. I mean video recording requipment at every arcade/console. So if tournaments are held there, you can easily record matches and burn them on a CD. But on top of that you can make that a source of revenue. Having people pay to have their matches recorded. Maybe have a lil microphone set up as well so you can hear the trash talking. Or even fighting game “tutoring sessions”. Where the fight game “pro” would take scrubs and mold them in a game, and have their session recorded on the arcade with audio. So the scrub can take the CD home with them and do their homework.

Thats what I’d like to see (and an SBO platform in the back).

Also include a cover charge to get in. Not neccessarily to make money though. Most riftraft won’t bother going to a place if they have to pay to get in. Example: a friend of mine went to a casino in the summer and they had a 15 dollar entry fee. First thing that came to mind was that they’re making you pay to take your money. But when he went inside, it was the cleanest casino that he’s ever been in. Granted 15 dollars may be a lil much for a video game cafe, but its an idea at least.


#19

If money was no object and profit wasn’t an issue I would have a room set up for arcade play, with all the top games today, and the classics like ST, HF, and probably a couple of NEO GEO’s. I’d also have a room with High Def TV’s with console’s hooked up to them, probably a couple of them would have xbox’s with a live account on them so people could come and play 3s or Halo2 over live, maybe even a 360 with DOA4, and of course plenty of PS2’s, maybe even a japanese one. I would rent out time on the consoles, and probably offer to rent out some of the more obscure fighters, and have joysticks available to rent. Finally I would have a room with tip top computers with a great itnernet connection, but (and I don’t know if this is possible) still have all the comps linked so you could have internal lan tournaments. If possible I would also hook the arcade machines and consoles up to recording equipment so people could record matches, and you could sell their vids for a price.


#20

I hate sticky controllers. No food would be nice. Starvation doesn’t work, so, what about a desginated food area? “Get your food here, eat your food there. Don’t touch anything while eating.”

Have 409 ready to be used.

I like good lighting. If I’m going to be gaming for three hours straight, I want good lighting.

AC is a must.

I don’t like bumping into people, there needs to be enough room to maneuver.

If cabinets:
Stools will probably work.

If console:
Must have comfortable chairs. Many hours of gaming requires comfortable seating.

Third Strike and MVC2. I like other games as well, but these stand out the most.

Atmosphere matters. Could an environment composed of SF people and CS people coexist?
(You MUST address this.)

It would be nice to have music, however, NEVER will you have music that everyone agrees to. Honestly, you probably couldn’t even find a radio station everyone likes. The random noises of multiple games will probably suffice. However, you wanted input: I am a fan of Linkin Park and Jack Johnson.

I would like to see a ‘newbie’ night. Maybe every Monday or something. You get to handpick who should be playing and who shouldn’t. The skilled players take a coaching point of view, the new players play each other.

Who’s the woman in your avatar?