There have been quite a few questions about the new software we are developing so I wanted to take the time to elaborate a bit more on what we are trying to accomplish. This software has a few different areas of focus, so I will concentrate on each of them individually even though the software itself handles all of these things at the same time.
Local Competitive Play
This feature I am mostly excited about from the gamer’s perspective. This is also the point that many LAN Centers feel is irrelevant but I think perhaps they are looking at it differently, in the old school sense of LAN parties and local servers.
When I talk about local competitive play there are few examples I want to use. The first is looking back to when Gears of War came out on the 360. That was perhaps our most popular competitive game for local play we have had in 10 years of business. There were plenty of options for playing and ranking up online, but our store even on slow days had 10-20 players sitting in rooms just joining system link games to play. Four players would form a team in one room and challenge four players in another room. There were open lobbies for players to jump in and players would then search the store to find out who the user “treehugger” was that kept killing them. 2v2, 4v4 and all sorts of variants controlled by the players.
Another example is today I watch these competitive teams always looking for private matches on social media. Games like Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and Halo have excellent matchmaking services, pre-formed teams and all players ever need. Then why in the world are teams going on Twitter asking for wager matches, custom matches and other set-ups? They don’t earn rewards in-game for those things and in most cases those matches are not even archived by the game producer. There is no control for the players of online matchmaking games and they are looking for people with similar play styles to play with and against.
The final example I want to use is what we stumbled upon at Gen Con this past year by creating an hourly event we just called 5v5 Randoms for League of Legends. Once we had 10 people in line, we randomly split them up into two teams and they played head-to-head. We recorded if they won or lost and if a player managed to get three wins we gave them a medal.
What we want to do is similar to what you would do at a golf course or at a bowling alley. Of course anytime you can show up and just pay to play. Play however you want. But in our case while you play we are going to track what you are doing and collect your stats and reward you.
If you like bowling and want to take it a step further, you can join a league. Or if your business supports a charity event, you might play in a golf scramble. If you are real serious you could even join the city championship or pursue more structured events. With video games all of that needs to be available for these players at our stores. What do they like about those things versus just playing online? They like the idea of a structured event being more “official” than just grinding away in online servers. Specific goals, specific objectives and the thought of real people playing, not just an online gamertag.
Using a bowling alley as my example, I haven’t seen one, but are any of them technologically advanced enough to have leaderboards inside the alley? Today’s top scores, top bowler right now? Join an event? What if you could show up to play a game of bowling and your score was put against other scores at the same time at bowling alleys around the world? Of course not everyone would care, some just want to go on a date and giggle while they flirt and have fun. Some just take their kids for something to do. But others would like the ability to join a structured event on a Tuesday even if there isn’t enough bowlers in your town to support a full league.
The problem for all LAN centers is that running events is so irrelevant because attendance is sporadic. During the busiest times on the weekends there are plenty of people around to play, but they all might like to play different things and play them in different ways. We have to take that LAN environment, automate it and create a WAN party for gamers at LAN Centers all over.
Want to play a “LAN” match in League of Legends but it just you and your buddy? Then queue up and we will find 3 players from other LAN Centers to be on your team and 5 other players to play against you. It is all automated, the players just form the party, play the match and our system gets the results automatically. We record the player’s stats, give them rewards and they start “ranking up” inside of our WAN world.
Are you showing up on League of Legends Wednesday with your 4 buddies to play as a team? Awesome! Create your team and play against teams from your local center and centers all around your region. Our system will assign matches, players play them and at the end of the night the team with the most wins gets the king of the hill prize. Work for the LAN Center during this process? Zero.
Now with CS GO things get even better. “Why would players want to play in our private servers instead of playing in the already awesome online ranked CS GO servers?” Well our servers will be running 24/7 regionally and rotating through different maps and game types. Players will quickly learn to associate the other players with their local center tags which I think creates a different competitive atmosphere instead of just random people online. The system will automatically handicap player’s coin earnings with their current ggCircuit rank during every match. If you are new and you get a headshot on one of the top ggCircuit players, boom 250 coin bonus. Are you the best in the server, your objectives are worth less so you might instead focus on getting to 100 knife kills which gives you a 500 coin bonus.
One of the coolest things for CS GO will also be the complete automation of creating servers for players and centers. If you have a team of 5 from your center and you want to challenge another center to a wager match and they accept here is the process: Both teams will automatically be charged a 500 coin wager from their balance. A private server will fire up only allowing those 10 players access. The server tracks all stats during the match and depending on the wagers automatically pays out to the players once the match is finished.
Players at your store getting super competitive? Allow them to fire up their own clan server and host matches and whatever game type you want. Slow Tuesday night at your store? Create a CS GO night, fire up your own LAN Center server and give out bonus coins for objectives all night long. Not enough players locally, then send out a challenge to all of the ggCircuit centers in your region.
This is the best feature that nearly every LAN center owner understands and agrees is valuable. Just allowing players to earn coins for playing, being logged into Smartlaunch, creates a loyalty program that most small businesses would die for. The ability to add in the skill side by giving out more coins for in-game accomplishments takes it to another level. Sure you can get a free coffee at the gas station with their rewards card when you buy 5 coffees, but can you get a free coffee for being able to make the best coffee and drink it like a champion?
Players will accumulate coins and be able to “spend” those right in your store. Each LAN Center has their own prize vault as well as items that ggCircuit will provide for players nationally and globally. You decide your own local exchange rate. Gamers all over the world will earn coins 50 per hour for being logged into their local center. However you decide if you want a Mt. Dew in your store to be in your prize vault for 500, 1000 or 1337 coins.
One big feature I want to touch on here is also the ability for players to quickly realize the street market value of those coins and give them “discounts” on prizes that are given to us by sponsors. For example, when Razer provides us a $99 gaming mouse as a prize, we can put that in our prize vault for a perceived coin value of $50. Not only is the gamer able to redeem coins for a cool prize like a gaming mouse, but they are getting it for 50% off the retail value. They will learn this quickly from the price of your regular items such as a Mt. Dew. If your Mt. Dew is normally $1 and you also make it available in your prize vault for 100 coins, you just made every 100 coins worth $1 in your store Then when the see the Razer mouse is only 5000 coins in the prize vault, they realize they are only “spending” $50 in coins to get a $100 gaming mouse.
Some features that LAN center owners might not realize is that we are also creating a badge system to go along with just the standard coin features. For an example, here are a couple of badge examples we will be implementing:
|“Playing at Different Stations”||Minimum 1 Hour Per Station||Coins|
|3 Stations||Finding Your Place||100|
|5 Stations||A.D.D. Much?||250|
|10 Stations||Taking a Trip||500|
|30 Stations||Nomad Master||1000|
|40 Stations||Nomad Platinum||1500|
|50 Stations||Nomad Elite||2500|
|Hours Per Single Game||Name||Coins|
|1 Hour||Gave it a Try||100|
|5 Hours||Starting to Like it||250|
|10 Hours||Solid Test||500|
|25 Hours||Getting into It||1000|
|50 Hours||Love this Game||2500|
|100 Hours||Getting Addicted||5000|
|250 Hours||Game Master||7500|
|500 Hours||Game Master Platinum||10000|
|1000 Hours||Game Master Elite||25000|
As you can see, these are things that are just rewarding players for accomplishing things that are already tracked in Smartlaunch. We are just putting a value to what they are doing and recognizing their accomplishments when they do so. There are other big opportunities as well with rewarding players for trying new games that a developer will pay the LAN Center to feature. Why would they pay you to feature their game? Because at the end of the week/month/year you can show them exactly how many hours the game was played and prove that game centers are a great place for promotions, especially in this gaming world that is going 100% digital soon.
Bigger, Serious eSports Events
The biggest complaints from LAN centers owners against running tournaments is that almost all of the participants displace regular customers and the prize pools eat up any profits. The underlying problem of eSports is that there is a big gap between traveling around the country to play in high dollar events or playing in some online event. In-person events are just more legit. This is where we need to take advantage of our local presence with gamers as well as the ability to give some legitimacy to a large scale event that runs online but is not from someone’s bedroom.
ggCircuit started 6 years ago for that sole purpose. Giving LAN Centers the ability to host a larger payout event at their store without needing the space to hold hundreds of players. In two weekends we will host a League of Legends tournament that at the time of this blog is taking place at 11 LAN centers around North America. Saturday teams play locally until there is only two teams left and then Sunday the teams return to their local LAN center to play online against the other stores. The prize pool is currently $2000 + Riot is supplying Riot Points and skins for the top teams.
With our new system, we can automate things to allow centers to hold a league or ladders over a longer period of time building up to the big championship online event. Instead of filling up their stores on a busy Saturday, maybe only the top 4 teams who have qualified in the previous 4 weeks are invited to play that day. Again, these types of things are normally nightmares to create, promote, register, administrate and just “put up with” for owners. Marketing materials and administration can happen at the ggCircuit level taking the burden off the local stores.
What does this give the players? The chance to play in really large national events by just visiting their local LAN center. What does this give the centers? The ability to take advantage of the growing eSports scene in their smaller stores with minimal effort.
The final thing I want to touch on briefly is the opportunity of sponsorship from a multitude of different companies. Of course in the LAN center business everyone thinks of gaming companies. One of our best partners kicking this off is Razer and we are super grateful for their support so far. You can see in the screenshot to the right that we are giving the a dominant space on our website and every center participating for free Razer prizes will do the same.
Beyond the game companies the market of 18-24 year old male is a pretty lucrative one. Advertisers are really crazy to get their name or product in front of young men that they believe can become brand loyalists for life. This makes what we are building valuable to an entire different group of companies. Insurance companies for example know that getting a customer on board early in life could be a 25+ year client.
The key metric into what we can give these companies goes way beyond an ad on a website. Our system will have leaderboards displayed on every screen in the LAN center, with sponsor’s names and logos on the headers. Want to join the Axe Body Spray challenge this week where they are giving away $1000? Just jump into this CS GO server and every shotgun kill (get it? body spray?) will give you one entry into the daily and weekly drawing for these great prizes. On the CS GO server a PSA comes through the screen every 10 minutes and reminds players if they want hot girls to like them they need to use Axe Body Spray.
The other big benefit to sponsors is that we will be able to give them solid, real-time data of their brand advertisements in progress. How many screens are showing this right now, this week or this month? How many players are in the server while your advertisement is posted? How many players around the world can you reach through 200 game center’s websites?
Hopefully this will answer some of the questions from LAN center owners on what exactly we are planning with the software and how many possibilities exist to use it for all of our benefit and growth. At the least, it gives me a page to share with potential centers in the future about ggCircuit and the software we have developed.