Each Friday I am going to spotlight a Video Game Center here in the United States. To kick off the series I contacted Jon Simmons from Netfragz in Fontana, California. For those of us who are geographically challenged this is about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles.
Netfragz is a great center to use as the guinea pig for this column because they are arguably the most successful center here in the United States. Some centers are bigger or have been around longer but there are none that I can think of which runs a more financially profitable operation. Surely profit is the best measure of success? 🙂
Netfragz is open 24/7/365 so they can easily answer the question, “What are your hours?”, with a quick “We never close!” Other centers that benchmark Jon have tried this unsuccessfully in other areas but NetFragz never falters. Like most center the weekends are the busiest times, but one thing that makes Netfragz unique is that they are constant throughout the week also.
Jon is extremely active inside of the forums at iGames.org. iGames is a international organization of Video Game Centers (Sometimes called LAN Centers) that has thousands of members in over 20 countries. Jon has over 6000 posts in the forums and is daily giving advice and suggestions to both new and existing centers.
Here is an inteview with owner Jon Simmons asking some basic and fun questions about NetFragz:
In one “tweet” describe your center (140 characters or less).
“A 24/7/365 SoCal gaming center focused primarily on PC’s.”
Why did you get into the video game center business?
“I love gaming, computers, and business… so it was the perfect answer for a life profession. I first heard about the concept from an old coworker. I initially doubted its viability due to people playing from home (or at work like we did). But when he took me to a place called NetGames back in the day, I realized the social interaction and playing with friends made it a huge success, and was something seldom available in most home settings. As my employer started to go under and I was out of a computer programming job, I finally made my move.”
What is one of the sweetest events you have had at your center?
“The funnest event for me was an all nighter where everyone, including our previous pro CS team, played the BF1942 beta. Another nice event was NetFragz being part of the XFX Challenge Tour, and seeing our employee, Mikeytux, win a spot on the bus.”
Any example of a tough situation you have been able to overcome?
“One of the more difficult things about owning your own business is that “the buck stops here”, and when problems arise (and MANY do), you need to find a solution one way or another. Roof leaks, some moron actually firebombing a competitor, servers going down, some very nasty viruses, theft and robberies, vandalism and tagging, a couple fights over the years, tons of hardware and software problems… there is always something to contend with! LOL. So I’ll just say I’m happy I’ve overcome all the problems so far. =)”
Name some other game centers you steal ideas from.
“Most of my “stolen” ideas are in the console arena since I’m not a console gamer myself. I added consoles after seeing some success at a place in Canada (name escapes me ATM), and I also had a great idea from Crazy Penguins Gaming when it came to placing the wider GamePod chairs in pairs so it doesn’t use up TOO much space and people can still move in and out. On the PC side I tend to do things like I would want them done as a gamer myself, but I’ve often exchanged ideas with Euphnet over the years. I get some good game license management input from Martin at Xtreme Gaming CyberCafe as well as from others.”
What is a guilty pleasure game that you play?
“Well I’m really enjoying Battlefield Bad Company 2 beta right now after a few months of not playing anything. Loved COD4, but the lack of dedicated servers in CODMW2 killed it for me.”
Some quick facts on Netfragz:
Owner: Jon Simmons
Center Website: http://www.netfragz.com
Center Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NetFragz
City/State: Fontana, CA (45 mins east of Los Angeles)
Store Hours: 24/7/365
Date Opened: June 2002
Area Population (County): 2,060,950
Cost to Play: $3/hr, 4 hrs for $10, 10 hrs for $20
Top 5 games played at your center: COD Modern Warfare 2, World of Warcraft, Left4Dead 2, Heroes of Newerth, DotA
What type of music do you play at your center: Electronica (trance, drum n bass)
Internet Feed: 50/20mbps FIOS
Xbox 360: 13