Starting and Running a Video Game LAN Center Lounge: What Other Products Can we Offer and the Importance of Keeping it Fresh

Here is the latest video from our weekly Twitchcast.  This week we cover:

– Besides consoles and PCs, what other entertainment products can a center offer?
– The importance of keeping things new and fresh in existing centers.
– The core of ggCircuit, together we are greater than the sum of our parts.
– Linking game accounts in ggCircuit
– Center Spotlight:  OverZone Extreme LAN House from Brazil, South America
– ggCircuit Fall 2015 season recap
– Grand Prize drawing winner!

Video Game LAN Center Video Including How to Manage Consoles like Xbox and Playstation and more….

This week’s video includes the following highlights:

  1. LAN Center start-up Question of the Week – “How do you manage consoles and console games (Xbox One, PS4, Wii U) in a center?”
  2. LAN Center growth Idea of the Week – “Bring in new customers and support the community with fundraisers.”
  3. ggCircuit PULSE:
    1. Center subscriptions
    2. Fall Season Recap
    3. Winter Season Preview, November 30th – February 8th
    4. ggCircuit Leagues
  4. ggCircuit “Tip of the Week” – Local Prize Vaults
  5. ggCircuit Player Spotlight – Derrick_Shaver
  6. Welcome to new ggCircuit centers – Monkey Gaming Center – Arequipa, Peru
  7. ggCircuit Fall Season week 5 winners

Week 5
Total: 306,379
Razer Chroma Keyboard – Raven (Galaxy Gaming) – 820
Razer Kraken Headset – lemboplanb (Elite Sevilla) – 289

Video Game LAN Center Video Including: How much space do I need and what is a good layout for my store?

Here is this week’s video for new and existing LAN centers.  The topics of discussion this week include:

  1. Introduction to the weekly Twitch-cast
  2. LAN Center start-up Question of the Week – “How much space do I need and what is a good layout for my store?”
  3. LAN Center growth Idea of the Week – “Why do players come to your center?”
  4. ggCircuit PULSE:
    1. Sneak peak of the skin (mockup)
      1. Logged out view
      2. Logged in view
    2. New Auto-Create online accounts for Centers, both batch process and auto-process for new users
    3. Bronze, Silver, Gold levels
    4. Weekly Tournaments
  5. ggCircuit “Tip of the Week”
  6. Welcome to new ggCircuit centers
    1. FastNet Lima, Peru
    2. Rails Billiards – Dubai, UAE
  7. ggCircuit Fall Season week 4 winners

Week 4
Total Entries: 273278
Razer Chroma Keyboard – The Gamerz Funk, Jormy (562 entries)
Razer Kraken Headset – GUF Werribee, LukeCan (415 entries)


How much money does it take to start a Video Game LAN Center or Cyber Cafe?

Hopefully this is the first of weekly show we plan on doing each week that will help me help you.  What I mean by that is the number of questions I am getting each week is really increasing and this is a way for me to spend an hour to hopefully help many of you at one time.

This week’s outline:

  1. Introduction to the weekly Twitch-cast
  2. LAN Center start-up “Question of the Week” – “How much money does it take to start a LAN center?”
  3. LAN Center growth “Idea of the Week” – “We had a slow month in September, now we are just waiting for things to pick back up.”
  4. ggCircuit PULSE:
    1. Gold Memberships / Prizes
    2. Smartlaunch ggCircuit skin
    3. CS GO
    4. NVIDIA events
    5. Halo 5 API announced
    6. Sneak peek of new website mock-up?
  5. ggCircuit “Tip of the Week” – ggCircuit Stages of a Center – 85 centers in the system
    1. Registration, Email Sent to Create Password – 72
    2. Download and install ggCircuit Client – 62
    3. Earned Coins – 62
    4. Start Slider – 23
    5. Set-up Kiosk – 4
    6. Facebook Tab – 4
    7. Website Widget – 5
    8. Add Local Prizes – 30
    9. Redeem Local Prizes (min just 1 per week) – 14
  6. Welcome to new ggCircuit centers
    1. Hajwala Games, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    2. Game City, Malmo Sweden
    3. The Grid, Chino Hills, CA
    4. Game On LAN, Buffalo, NY
    5. Section 9 Cyber Cafe, Fargo, ND
  7. ggCircuit Fall Season first half winners

Starting a Video Game LAN Center – How many and what type of systems should you offer?

A variety of systems is good, but only having a couple will make them not as attractive for group gaming or team events.

A variety of systems is good, but only having a couple will make them not as attractive for group gaming or team events.

I am going to try and post a few quick blogs each week answering some of the repeated questions that I get from potential new LAN center owners.  I really try to not be rude, but I am sometimes blunt when giving advice to people that I can tell are not anywhere close to being ready to open a store.  However answering the same questions many times over-and-over becomes a bit tiring.

Here are the things I have observed over the years at our stores and watching other centers open-and-close around the world.   I attribute these stores closing to poor decisions in many areas, but one of the biggest mistakes is choosing the wrong number of systems and wrong set-up around those systems.

Recently I was contacted by someone wanting to open a store with 6 PC, 6 Xbox and 6 Playstation systems.  This is very wrong on many different levels:

– Any kind of event you want to run usually consists of two teams playing each other.  Standard teams for PC games are usually 5 players.  Standard teams for most console games are 4 players.
– LAN Centers are like movie theaters, we do 90% of our business on the weekend.  You have to be able to hold enough paying customers on the weekend to pay your expenses for the month.  That means if your expenses are $10k per month you need to make $2500 each weekend, or $1k on Friday, $1k on Saturday and $500 on Sunday.  Can you make $1k on a Friday with only 20 systems in your store?  Most of us charge around $20-$25 for a day pass.  20 customers paying $20 each for a day pass fills up a store with 20 systems and is only $400 in revenue.
– First time players usually come in groups and want to play the same thing.  If you have 4 Xbox One stations and there is a couple guys playing what happens when 4 friends walk in and want to play Call of Duty together on the Xbox One?  They probably leave and maybe will not come back because they know your place is too small.
– Many games are the same on different systems, you don’t want to buy 2-3 full game libraries for all of the systems.  In the past at our stores we focus on the Xbox for console games and have a small amount of Playstation systems for their exclusive titles only.  Now we are looking at doing mostly Playstation 4 at a new location because Call of Duty eSports will be on PS4 in 2016.

Number of Systems Guidelines
Here are the guidelines I share when someone asks me for my advice on the type and number of systems:
– No matter how big your city/town is, you need to try to start with at least 40 stations.  That way on busy weekends you can break that $1k/day goal in sales
– If you cannot purchase at least 16 of the same console (Xbox or PS4) then just pick one of them and only get a couple of the other for exclusive games.
– Set-up systems in multiples of team sizes for events.  That means 20, 30 or 40 PCs (4 teams, 6 teams or 8 teams of 5 players each).  For consoles shoot for 16, 24 or 32 systems (same number of teams, just 4 players each team)

Equipment Specs and Space
– At our stores we shoot for 36 inches of counter space per player.  That is 4 players per twelve feet.
– Purchase 24″ monitors with built-in sound for ALL stations.  This means PC and console.  No, no, no, no you do not need 200 inch screens for console players.  They are not coming to your store to play on a BIG screen, they are coming to play as close as they can to their friend’s screen.  If every station in the store has the same monitors then moving things around for events is much easier.  Also it makes it easy to have 1-2 spares available (we use the same monitors at our admin stations as well.  *****(Exception)**** The exception for the screens is the Wii U.  We usually have 2-4 stations for Wii U that are on larger screens like 55″ or so and couches.  We also sometimes put a couple of the other consoles on those for unique single player games and for streaming.
– Mount the systems above the players on a shelf, this saves a lot of counter space and floor space.

Here is a mock-up of our Terre Haute store drawing showing how we fit so many stations into 4000 square feet.  We sometimes have 100-125 gamers at our building for special events.

2303 Building Drawing 1-14-2013-page-001

eBash’s 4000 square foot Terre Haute location.

One thing to keep in mind is that I do not recall ever hearing a LAN center say that they wish their store wasn’t so big.  They ALWAYS wish they had more space or more systems.  When you cannot hold enough people on the weekend and you watch those $20 bills walk right back out the door you will find out the hard way.

That being said my biggest advice is to not open a center if you cannot build it big enough to start.   It is false to think that you can add more systems later as it grows.  It will never “grow” if it doesn’t have room to grow.  You will just throw away your money.  If you want to be in this business do it right from the beginning.  Don’t just “test” the market out by starting small.  It will never work.

eBash Video Game Zone @ Gen Con 2015 Recap

The 6000 square foot eBash Game Zon at Gen Con 2015.

The 6000 square foot eBash Game Zone at Gen Con 2015 was full almost the entire convention.

Setting up complete LAN centers inside of conventions was never in our wildest business plan ideas.  Anyone that has built a LAN center knows that it takes months of planning, purchasing, construction, assembly and testing to open your doors for customers.  However with a convention set-up we have a total of 2 days to do the same thing.

Just like any other project the more times you go through the process the better you get for the next time.  This year was not our first rodeo for Gen Con 2015 and the only way we pulled off what we did was because of our previous experience building LAN centers at conventions and our fantastic staff and volunteers.

All of our events had trophies for first place teams. Here is the top team from one of our Heroes of the Storm tournaments.

All of our events had trophies for first place teams. Here is the top team from one of our Heroes of the Storm tournaments.

Monday, July 27th we loaded our 24 foot enclosed trailer and our 26 foot rented Uhaul with equipment at our Terre Haute location and drove to our Indianapolis store.  At that store we finished loading all of the remaining equipment we needed and then drove downtown Indianapolis to stay the night near the convention center.  The next morning, Tuesday, we began unloading everything around 9 AM.

Through Tuesday until around 10 PM and then again starting at 8 AM on Wednesday morning we built the eBash Game Zone in just about 6000 square feet of space.  The final layout had over 100 PCs, 8 Xbox One, 8 PS4, 4 Wii U and 8 racing simulators to give us enough seating for just over 150 simultaneous players.

Surely enough playing room for 150 players at one time would be enough room right?  Wrong.

We opened our room Thursday morning at 8 AM about 2 hours before the Exhibit hall opened right next door.  We were extremely busy all day but we survived.  I remember then looking at the trends from 2014 at Gen Con for our room and realizing that Thursday was the slowest day of the four days for us.  That is when I started to realize we would be blowing away any kind of old attendance records.

Want to know exactly how busy Gen Con 2015 was? Here is what it looks like outside of our room every single morning before the Exhibit Hall opens.

Want to know exactly how busy Gen Con 2015 was? Here is what it looks like outside of our room every single morning before the Exhibit Hall opens.

Friday was insane.  I am not sure at what point during the day we were informed that our room was over capacity, but I feel like the entire day no one could hardly move.  While we had 60-70 players all of the time in the hourly area, we were packing in hundreds more for our tournaments.  My biggest mistake this year was scheduling a Hearthstone tournament at the exact same time as a Heroes of the Storm tournament.

Looking back I still have no idea how we pulled everything off.  There were nearly 100 players in just those two tournaments, while there were 48 players in a Smash tournament, 40+ players waiting for League of Legends Randoms and 20+ players in a Call of Duty tournament.  Top that off with hundreds more wanting to just watch the tournaments on our giant 50 foot projectors on the walls.

With Saturday being the busiest day of the four we had no choice but to have people posted at each doorway and only allowed players that were participating in the events into the room.  We had thousands of people turned away at the door that just wanted to walk through the room and check it out.  I felt bad for our partners in the zone such as Visions of Zosimos and Extra Life, but they were both always busy the entire time and couldn’t handle much more traffic either.

You can see why they were concerned with our room capacity limits. Most of the time players could hardly find their way to sit down.

You can see why they were concerned with our room capacity limits. Most of the time players could hardly find their way to sit down.

Gen Con is still processing all of our tickets and the final sales numbers are not calculated but we know that we nearly doubled our sales from 2014 and that was a really GOOD show.  Our estimate is that over 15,000 people came through our room and we had over 5,000 people play in our events.  We gave out over 150 trophies, over 200 medals and saw over 7500 hours played in just 4 days.

Our Extra Life Indy guild signed up over 150 new members in 4 days in the zone.  They were invaluable helping us at the front desk with hourly players, at the door answering questions and helping administrate tournaments.  The Visions of Zosimos team were fantastic and they told me that they had more new downloads during Gen Con weekend than the entire total of downloads in the first year of their alpha!

So what does the future hold for eBash at conventions like Gen Con?  In 2014 we set-up at two conventions.  This year in 2015 we set-up at three conventions.  Next year in 2016 we are going to look for 6-8 conventions to set-up.  Our potential partner and sponsor list has been growing from outside inquiries.  It seems like in the next few years we will be known throughout the Midwest as the premier video game event organization and perhaps even throughout the entire US.

Here is a big portion of our group this year. These guys were still working hard loading trucks late Sunday night when we grabbed this photo on the Gen Con announcement stage.

Here is a big portion of our group this year. These guys were still working hard loading trucks late Sunday night when we grabbed this photo on the Gen Con announcement stage.

New ggCircuit Client Releasing in Beta This Week

gg_lgWe are far into the thousands-of-hours in planning, development, programming and managing the new ggCircuit software system.  While ggCircuit has been around nearly 7 years running eSports events at LAN Centers, the concept of software to run everything was first mentioned in January 0f 2014.  Since that time we built the main system for tracking games and stats from scratch, tested it for 6 months in our eBash locations and then brought on 3 test centers last October.  At that point we realized that we had something very special started and we began reaching out to centers for a bigger test and a group of around 10 started in November and December 2014.

The first quarter of 2015 we have carefully grown to 21 locations running the software in the US, Europe, Middle East and Australia.  We have been testing and trying different things while we continue to evaluate the best direction for ggCircuit to be able to serve the majority of centers around the world.  The balance between the economy of the coins earned in the system for casual players and the high-end eSports competitions is not as easy as someone might think.

This week is a big milestone for ggCircuit.  We are releasing the beta of the new ggCircuit client.  In the past, centers joining us required some pretty disruptive changes to their systems to connect.  This has caused some centers that started 4 months ago to still be delayed in the final step of the set-up. With this new client we are crushing nearly every barrier and the start-up process is nearly automated.  Automation is our theme, we want things to happen automatically, regularly and effectively without any extra work or burden for LAN center owners or staff.

Take a look at what the new client is going to solve:

NEW ggCircuit CLIENT

Old Way Without Client

Works with multiple LAN Center (cyber cafe) software packages including Smartlaunch, Cyber Cafe Pro, Antamedia, Cyber Planet and more. Required only the latest version of Smartlaunch
Client automatically discovers the type of database and works with MS Access, MySQL and MS SQL Server Database had to be converted from MS Access default to MySQL
Client communicates through standard web port Required LAN Center to port forward to MySQL database and change firewall settings
Only the applicable data for features being used is transferred to ggCircuit servers online The only option was that the entire LAN Center database was replicated online
Built-in service to monitor and synchronize server time for all global LAN Centers No local synchronization for time on the LAN Center server causing data to be mismatched worldwide

Over the next week we will be moving all of our existing stores to this new client AND the past 30 days of centers waiting to join can get caught up.  April and May are big months for ggCircuit.  My goal was to have 100 locations on the system before the end of 2015 and things are looking like that is an achievable goal!

Email Bag – My Video Game LAN Center has been open a few months, how do I increase business?

I had an email from a newer center that is struggling to get over that first hump.  Here is some things I sent back to him and suggested from what has worked at eBash in the past:


Keep in mind that a LOT of success in this business (and most businesses) is surviving through the first two years.  It is a marathon, not a sprint.
When we opened 10 years ago, we attracted players because we had faster computers, faster internet, etc.  Then when HD came out in 2006-7 we got 32″ flat screens ($800 back then!) and players came because we had Xbox 360 and PS3 with HD.  Now that stuff is way cheaper and players have it at home.
So we have really focused on making sure we do a LOT of special events.  Not tournaments only, many players are “arm chair warriors” and don’t want to compete seriously.  Here are some of the things that are really big for us:
  • Birthday Parties – These really grow over time as more kids get invited they want to hold their party at the store
  • Lock-ins – We started doing one per month… then we started doing two per month… then finally we figured out that doing them every weekend was best because gamers and parents didn’t have to remember WHEN we were having them.  We went from having 20-30 players at one lock-in per month to 80-90 players every Friday night and 40-50 players every Saturday night.
  • Tournaments – We try to do serious ones that cost big $$ to join with big $$ prizes but we also do free events for fun prizes like game time and snacks.
For marketing, here are some things that have worked well for us:
  • Thursdays each week is Church Youth Night.  We let middle school and high school students with a bulletin/program from their church that week play for free from 4 PM until 10 PM.
  • We made business cards that give a person a free hour, printed like 5000 of them and took stacks to all of the local schools, elementary, middle and high schools.  We give each one around 50 or 100 cards and tell them to use them for rewards for attendance, grades or anything they want.  You can also give these out to anyone at the store anytime.  Drive around to local businesses and invite them, their kids, their friends to come by with those cards.
  • Get some press coverage.  Write up your own press release and email it to all of the local newspapers and televisions.  I am surprised when we do this how many times at least a few of them pick up the story and just put it on their website exactly as I wrote it. Write it from an outside perspective and put quotes from yourself in there.  I attached an example of one I recently wrote and sent out, feel free to use that template to write your own.
  • Dedicate a day/night each weekday to a couple of games.  That way players who like Call of Duty know when to come to meet other Call of Duty players.  You can even make it a discount to play ONLY that game ONLY on that day.  Easy way to make a cheaper product without lowering your main prices.
I hope some of those ideas can help!  It is all about making it through the first couple of years.  The ones that make it are the ones that never stop pushing their business.  The ones that fail usually are excited and work hard the first couple of months but then just get lazy and sit around.

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.

(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.


ggCircuit’s New LAN Center Software for Competition and Redemption


This chart is an example of the different ways players can earn coins inside of the ggCircuit system.  It is also a part of the player dashboard to help them track where their coins are coming from.

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.

At Gen Con 2014 there was always a line for our League of Legends 5v5 Random events putting 10 strangers on two teams head-to-head.

At Gen Con 2014 there was always a line for our League of Legends 5v5 Random events putting 10 strangers on two teams head-to-head.

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.

Counterstrike Global Offensive is a very popular LAN Center game and used to be HUGE for local play.  Let's bring it back in a WAN environment.

Counterstrike Global Offensive is a very popular LAN Center game and used to be HUGE for local play. Let’s bring it back in a WAN environment.

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.

Redemption/Reward System

Here is a screenshot of the player dashboard to monitor their coin progress in the LAN center.

Here is a screenshot of the player dashboard to monitor their coin progress in the LAN center.

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
20 Stations Nomad 750
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.

Over 140 players showed up for one of our Gears tournaments!

Over 140 players showed up for one of our Gears tournaments!

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.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Here you can see in the highlighted box our ggCircuit widget running stats and the header featuring Razer's headsets we are giving away as prizes.

Here you can see in the highlighted box our ggCircuit widget running stats and the header featuring Razer’s headsets we are giving away as prizes.

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.