Why are you in the Video Game LAN Center business?

QandAAs always the inquiries come in from many different places around the world for starting a LAN center.  Sometimes existing centers write to talk about closing their business, expanding it or even selling it.  All of those questions came to me today in an email from a center owner who has been around 10 years and is trying to decide if they should sell to an interested buyer.

I thought it would be a nice idea to share my thoughts on just why it is that we are all in the video game LAN center business.  I had a good friend years ago that told me over-and-over the reason a person should own a business is to someday sell the business.

Here is a list of questions that were posed to me by this owner about the future of our industry and my thoughts on if he should sell or keep running his business.

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(Note:  These questions come from a center in another country, so I am answering these with my best knowledge of running a LAN center here in the US)

1. Now a days people started to play games in laptops, moreover college events are running gaming tournament in laptops connected through WiFi networking. Will portable device or laptop can kill the lancenter ?  
To me the future of gaming is perhaps coming in the form of VR devices and other technology even beyond portable devices.  However I have noticed that even games on a mobile phone are more fun when playing with people from our LAN center.  I don’t think that the type of game or the device they are played on will ever change the overall desire for humans to find and interact with other humans interested in something similar.  Gamers that met at eBash 10 years ago who would have never even crossed paths became great friends which started with a common love of gaming.
 
2. How do you see the evaluation of LAN game center in future ? Will it exist in tomorrows technology? I can see some answers in igames forum but I am not convinced with that answers, may be partially……let me know your views
I can say this right now with the amazing strides we are making with ggCircuit AND with the added resurgence of potential new owners asking me for advice that 2015 is the year LAN centers will finally become relevant for gaming.  We have missed out for years because the technology didn’t exist, the games didn’t exist and the owners were all too independent.  Already this year I have hosted 3 potential new owners physically at my store and consulted with them about starting their own center.  I have not physically consulted with a potential new owner in about 3 years.
3. I can see game developers & publishers not supporting Video Game Center….is it correct?
This is actually changing right now with ggCircuit.  Now when I call developers and publishers representing 28 locations around the world and over 10,000 active gamers they are starting to support us.  They do not have to try and ship out products to 28 locations, they can make a deal and ship to ggCircuit who then gives them the exposure at all of the locations.  Even after 10 years at eBash we have had 25,000+ gamers in our system and they did not care about talking to us.  We were just in one state of the US.  Now we have centers together in North America, Europe, Middle East and Australia with talks in the Far East and also South America.
 
4. What happens to our field if everyone easily connected through wifi internet & have portable gaming device or portable computers ? 
I think we have to adapt as gaming adapts.  If the gaming industry moves to different platforms, we have to move to different platforms.  As much as I dislike maintaining consoles like the Xbox One or Playstation 4, I think they are necessary for eBash to have available to our gamers.  As they grow up, most of them move toward the PC.
 
5. Do you think am I pessimist to run the show?
Honestly I didn’t understand this question.  I think the translation from the native language was lost here.  Google Translate you failed me!  I believe that in his decision on whether to keep the LAN center going himself or to sell it he feels he is being negative about the industry.  I don’t think at all it is a problem to be realistic and search through every possible scenario when owning a business.  If you don’t prepare for the worst then you might not be prepared at all.
6. Will ggcircuit save us? i am serious in this because I can see the potential & scope…let me know your views. 
Obviously I am very biased towards saying yes to this question.  However I think that the fact is unless either one single company is able to open 100 stores OR something like ggCircuit unites the LAN industry then we will just continue to all struggle on our own.  Not only because of sponsorship opportunities, but because finally we are giving gamers a reason to play at a LAN center instead of the age old response of “because playing together is more social”.  Now, we give gamers an experience they cannot get anywhere else.
 
7. Can I have ggciruit in my centers from India?
Yes, of course!  We are already setting up centers in India currently! 🙂
8. Are you interested to hire any skilled developers for ggcircuit from India? because less expense for professional developers compared to your country ….I am interested in this (I earlier had this vision but never took a single step to execute it), at the end of the day cyber cafe programs wins & I am impressed with your works….I thought of some kind of contribution to the man who fights for our benefits.
We are hoping that many centers not only join us by putting ggCircuit in their center but we can use all kinds of help from centers with all types of skills.  Some centers are working on contacts with sponsors they know.  Most of them provide us all sorts of ideas and comments as we release new features.  The next big phase for us is deciding if we are going to support different cafe software packages or if we are going to create easy conversion tools for moving to use Smartlaunch.  Perhaps the conversion tools would be the best place for those with coding skills to jump in and help?
9.Are you running only ebash or you are running other couple of business ? if yes please let me know others……………..please don’t mean me interfering personally because I am seeing you as my role model in this field, so I would like to know how do you manage everything financially apart from micromanagement.
This has been heavy on my mind lately.  I worry that we do too many things good and not any single thing GREAT.  My problem is that I do not ever tell people “no”.  My background was starting a software company business websites in .ASP and .Net, followed by building my own Internet Service Provider (ISP).  Currently we still consult and work on some websites, build some apps, set-up mobile racing simulators, build gaming zones for conventions, run summer camps for kids and probably other things I am not thinking about currently.
The problem is that I need to just focus on one core business.  If I can start saying “no” to some of these items then I can start doing other things better.  I want to be great, not just good.
10. Have you ever felt from quitting this business at least once from the day one ? 
Many, many times.  Probably once a week since I graduated college in 1998 and started my first company.  I think the struggle for small business owners is very real.  There is always the thought in my mind that I am very marketable and would easily make great money working for a larger company and not have to worry about anything.  But I always come back to how happy I am being able to make my own decisions every single second of every single day.  My mistakes are my own fault, my success is a result of my own actions.  I can always live with that even when things are tough.
 
11. Have you felt negative about this business at least once from the day one ? 
Yes, for sure.  The LAN center industry is filled with owners who are gamers first, business people second.  That is why we have never really found a way to grow.  If a person likes cars, they can be a very successful car dealer, mechanic or salesman.  You can’t consume your time with a car.  But gaming consumes people.  They start making excuses and taking shortcuts.  First it is deciding to play games at the front counter.  Then they start letting their friends play for free so they have someone to play with.  Next thing you know they are going out of business because they didn’t pay attention to running the store.
The other big frustration from me has always been that the industry has never really grown as a group.  Too many centers go out of business and run out of energy to keep going.  We have never been able to have one voice to represent us and get games that are easier to run, deals that are exclusive or bulk buying discounts.
 
12. How do you still manage your negative thought & keep motivated even though if you see some dark side of our business even in terms of finance? 
The GOOD side of the fact that games can consume people is that for our customers this can mean more revenue for us.  It is bad for a LAN center owner to play games all of the time, but it is good for the customers to play games all of the time in our stores.  I have always held onto hope for our industry because I know that society is moving towards being 100% digital.  Just like the movie Wall-E from Disney, I think people will eventually just sit in front of a screen most of the time.  I just hope that LAN centers can get them out of their houses every now-and-then.
 
13. What about your family are they co-operative with your business? sorry for asking this because I can see few quite from this business because their family is not supporting …………I felt my family is exception to run this show till now.
My wife has always been 100% behind everything I have done.   We will celebrate 19 years of marriage in August of this year and we love the place we are at with the business.  The future is looking brighter and we are going to be so strong because of the hard times we have experienced in this business and others that I have ran in the past.  There is no question that if you don’t have the support of your family then you should not be in this business, nor any other small business.
14. Your advice/suggestion  for me to take the decision? whether to sell or expand? 
Right now, with what I am seeing, my advice would be to expand.  However that comes with a huge *BUT* next to it.  But the right investment partner is nearly impossible to find.  I have started many businesses in my life.  Some of sold, some of have failed and others are still yet to be seen.  For every great partner or investor I have had 5 that are not very great.

 

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