You would think that after all of this time operating eBash we would have everything figured out right? Wrong. There are still some things that continue to rear their ugly head and this week I am really struggling with one of them.
We have always fought a battle trying to maintain our gaming peripherals. A peripheral is a device that plugs into our computers and consoles such as headsets, keyboards, mice, controllers, etc. Some of these items we really nailed down after years of trial-and-error. Things like our Saitek Eclipse keyboards and our Logitech MX-518 mice. Those things are rock solid and we RARELY have to replace or repair them.
While winning a battle on one front, we are totally losing the war on many others. PC headsets have always been a problem. We have tried many different avenues. We partnered with Turtle Beach at one point and put $150 headsets in every seat that they sold to us at $50 each for us to be exclusive with their company. It didn’t take long before they started showing up broken and we had to send batches of them back for repair/replacement.
We tried the $2 cheap-o headsets (which is what we currently use). There is no warranty and honestly it almost isn’t worth trying to ship and maintain equipment through warranties anyway. If we can get 3 months from a $6 headset then we feel we are coming out “ahead”…hehehe.
For the Xbox stations we don’t even provide Xbox LIVE headsets anymore. We tried renting them out for $1 or $2 and they still just showed up broken or walked out the door. I actually found a source from Hong Kong to buy them for $3.10 each including shipping which is a great deal. We buy them and then sell them for $5 each which has seemed to work the best. We make a little on the headset and the players are responsible for not losing or breaking them. As a matter-of-fact… I need to order more now so off to eBay I go…. $3.10 Xbox LIVE Headsets.
Which brings us to my biggest headache right now. Xbox 360 controllers. While the PC headsets and Xbox LIVE headsets can be somewhat of a luxury, the controller is necessary to be able to play the games so we almost have to include them without an extra charge. As you can see from the picture on the left these suckers take all kinds of INTENTIONAL abuse.
About 4 months ago we started working with John over at 360tuneup.com to repair our controllers. He is able to replace broken RB and LB buttons, solder on new stick sensors, put on new joysticks, repair shorted wires and just about anything. We have I believe 12 of them in the store he has repaired. One of them is the picture on the left that didn’t even make it 3 months before being eaten.
I want to figure out how to charge for peripherals just like the bowling alley charges for shoe rental or the skating rink charges for skate rental. If you are a pro bowler or skater you bring your own equipment. Those of us who are not pro are just as happy to use the rental equipment, but we pay a SEPARATE price for those items which is different from the facility rental.
Why can’t we figure out a way to do this more effectively? The problem for us is that on a busy Friday and Saturday we will see over 200 players in-and-out of the store. Many times we have 80+ players in the store at one time. It just isn’t easy to keep track of handing out all of these items.
I am leaning towards putting super generic equipment on every station. Just like rental skates at the skating rink they won’t be top-0f-the-line. You aren’t probably going to win your bowling league or dominate the shoot-the-duck competition while skating with rental equipment. If you are a picky player and you think the joystick is making you lean to the left or is always pushing up, then you can rent a high-end controller OR better yet bring your own from home.
The same with PC headsets I think maybe? We can keep putting the $2 units out there, but also have a nicer option available to rent for $5. We will have to put some extensions for the sound and USB ports from the PC cases down to the tabletop so that players are not always pulling and pushing on the actual computer and pulling them off the wall.
I am always up for suggestions, so if any of you readers out there have some ideas I would love to hear them!