Gaming cafes have been popping up all over the Metro, providing enthusiastic geeks with games and even good eats, too. If you are looking to start your own gaming station, make sure you are aware of some of the things you need to consider if you are to successfully get it off the ground. From looking around viable commercial spaces to having the right game offerings, make sure you have everything carefully planned. Stand out from your competitors by having the awesome combination of location, food, and people in your business.
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Conduct your own market research
Before you get started, it is best to find out first if your gaming cafe is going to fly. One of the ways you can do this is by conducting your own rudimentary market research. A nearby gaming station is a good start. You can engage in a casual conversation with the owner, and ask about what sells more and what doesn’t work in the market anymore. You should also take the time to observe the traffic and the peak time for the business. There are many game cafes that die out after only a short time. You need to do your homework to avoid this.
You need as much information as you can get to help you decide on some factors, like whether you should start with a computer gaming station or a console gaming parlor. There are several factors you need to consider. Computers are very pricey and have a shorter lifespan, considering the fast advancements in games and hardware. Consoles, on the other hand, are more durable and can offer better gaming experience.
If it is feasible, you should start with both options and even add a food lounge to have more pull on your customers and for added revenue. The best option is to open a cafe that has it all — a console and computer station with a food lounge.
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Find the right location
The location of your gaming station will draw the line between its success and failure. Some of the things you need to consider are vehicle and foot traffic, and nearby landmarks. Some of the ideal locations are those that are near offices, schools and major thoroughfares. A great location that provides access to a profitable market can be hard to find. You can speed up the search though by opting for commercial buildings that have already been subjected to thorough market research. Big real estate developments like DMCI properties have been subjected to such research, and a commercial space in a condo in Metro Manila can be a real steal. One of the biggest marketing pulls of a condominium is that it is at the center of everything. This will work to your advantage.
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Find ways to connect with your customers
Once you have set up your gaming station in a good location, you have basically won half the battle. Now you have to work on reaching out to your customers. Get the word out. Arrange for professionally designed flyers, pamphlets, and the like. You should also take full advantage of social media channels. They work wonders at reaching potential customers. More than just bringing in the customers, you have to work hard at keeping them. You can launch referral schemes and loyalty programs. More importantly, you have to make sure that your employees are well-trained and are dedicated to providing proper customer service. Customer retention requires commitment and consistency.
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Be ready for possible setbacks
If you have the budget, you may be tempted to install more computers to accommodate more customers. You may have the money, energy and time for the initial setup of a legion of computers, but you have to note that maintenance of these machines is a whole new level. The greater the number of equipments you have, the higher the required efforts for maintaining hardware and software would be. You have to factor all these in at the planning stage.
One other important thing to consider is the speed of your internet connection. Connectivity issues can be very frustrating for gamers, and this can cause you to lose repeat customers. Even before operations start, make sure you consult with a service technician and discuss key factors like the dreaded net capping, bandwidth consumption, extra charges, and the like, so you can stay on top of things. Also, you must stay abreast of the new and promising games. Make sure that you keep track of the games that are causing problems in your device and do away with them if possible.
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Target a specific niche
One of the problems of running a gaming cafe, or any business for that matter, is that if you choose to put up your business in a posh location, you will be unable to access regular students and other local people in the area. And if your business is located in a more low-key area, then you lose access to the elite market. The key is making your cafe work for your niche. A dedicated customer base is better for your business. Just make sure that your cafe is designed to make your target market as comfortable as possible. If you are catering to an elite customer base, make sure that everything in your gaming station is first-rate, from the equipment to the furnishings. Do not hesitate to charge more. This customer base would be willing to pay more for the extra luxuries.
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Cash in on the industry’s potential
Online gaming websites are immensely popular, and have helped gaming cafes boost their own business. These online portals and websites are developed to give the gaming business a boost. If you have world-class game selections and high-speed broadband connectivity, this is your chance to take advantage of the ongoing buzz and make huge profits out of it. There is a variety of verticals to your business, from the development of new games, e-commerce, distribution, and retailing, sustaining the gaming industry. If you have a flair for writing, you can even start you own gaming blog, portals and media firms to have a strong hold on the online market. And if you have expertise in software, you can go ahead and dream of building your own gaming studio as well.
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Keep up with industry trends
Be sure to be on the watch for promising games, and be ready to offer it. Game publishers commonly have programs that let gaming cafes receive updates on game releases, and even offer promotional posters and free CD/DVD so you would not have to download the new game.
Remember that the bottomline is always your customers. Make sure they are aware of the new games you are offering. You can maintain a Facebook account and make announcements on your units’ wallpaper or screensaver. And of course, a poster outside your cafe always helps.
Go ahead and make your dream gaming cafe business a reality. With the right preparations, you should see it flourish.