eSports is one of the most popular type of content watched in 2018. Be it DOTA 2, League Of Legends or Counter Strike:Global Offensive, more and more people have started watching it, but more importantly, playing it.
At such times where the interest in multiplayer competitive games are growing, it is a good thought to invest into an eSports cafe.
But what exactly are the challenges in setting up such cafes? How to find contacts who’ll help you in the process?
Here in India, I got in touch with a person who could brief me about the process of setting up this business.
For your reading convenience, I’ve kept this interview as lucid as possible and there is some paraphrasing.
The eSports Expert
Sarvesh Deokar is the co-founder of Barcraft United. This firm that provides a platform for businesses and grassroots organizers to manage & oversee event listings manage volunteers and create marketing opportunities. This firm has been known to promote and support the expanding eSports industry and has worked with Valve, MLG and Twitch.
Currently, he looks after the eSports section at Red Bull.
What is the minimum amount of investment needed to start an eSports cafe, excluding the cost of the location?
The cost will vary due to many factors like the interior design, the experience of gaming, amenities provided, etc.
On an average, for a 10 PC setup (all high-end, with latest peripherals, furniture,etc), it would cost about $37000.
What makes these cafes actually appeal to gamers?
A cafe must be like an casino/amusement park. Once the gamer is in your premises, he/she must not going outside unless it is out of serviceable areas. Services like in-house kitchens, drinking water, stocking cooler with beverages and energy drinks brings out the appeal to most gamers.
How can an individual approach brands for partnerships or sponsorship?
Reaching them through their contact pages on the web, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles and through peripheral dealers. There are plenty of ways to reach them & most of them are open to partner with gaming cafes.
Are there any premium or fees that are to be paid to the brand for setting up these cafes?
I don’t think any brand would charge a gaming cafe for services apart from the sales of their peripherals. In the end you are buying their services or products. Rest all would be pure marketing from the brand.
What are your recommendations for choosing a particular brand for a particular component?
I don’t have any specific taste of hardware because I feel all of them are equally strong players in the space. However personally I use Zotac/EVGA for for my GPU needs along with GSkill for their memory modules and HyperX SSDs.
For peripherals I switch a lot between Razer/Steelseries/Cooler Master and Mad Catz
However there is a huge difference when it comes to buying peripherals for a gaming cafe because you need them to be rugged and long lasting because every user has a different style of use. Most of these are designed to be used by a single user for long time, So for a gaming cafe, it’s all trial and error until you find the perfect mix of product life, RMA and cost-effectiveness.
Which method is more optimal-Having a system integrator who makes custom PCs build them after sourcing different components from the respective brands OR approaching one brand like AORUS or ASU for an entire PC?
- It’s a case to case thing. Having a system integrator would save you time. But being a PCMR guy, I love building my rigs and as a cafe owner you could use that hands-on experience of building rigs which helps you in emergency tweaks,repairs and swaps of hardware.
- Going for an OEM like AORUS or ASUS for a system is wise but keep in mind these systems are marketed as personal use devices and wouldn’t really fare you well. An average PC in an eSports cafe works (is under load) for 17 hours a day.
- A system integrator is my choice, but if the cooling systems and components used are suitable for a prolonged period of gaming, then choosing an OEM built PC is a valid option.
How do you think these cafes will change the eSports community or what effect will it have on eSports as a whole?
Firstly, we need more gaming cafes which embody gaming within them as a whole. Having 20 PCs in a premises with no experience or community is useless. Every gaming cafe needs to build its micro-community around gaming which further promotes and carries eSports on its shoulder. You need gaming for eSports. There is no eSports in solo gaming. The community matters, the cafe itself doesn’t.
How to connect with like-minded people who also wish to start a cafe with shared investments?
Treat this like a startup and have your homework done. Visit gaming conventions (like Nvidia’s Gamer Connect) and network with people. There are plethora of investors looking around for their next big venture and nothing beats the excitement of gaming and the industry around it.
Who is a regional evangelist and how can he/she help us in setting up these cafes?
Regional Evangelist or the correct term would be Gaming Evangelist is a position created within Nvidia for promoting gaming in India (and other countries) on a broader scale. Nvidia has been on the forefront of helping owners amp up their cafe experience and help gamers get best cafe experience. You can reach out to Nvidia and they are always up for setting up kick-ass gaming experiences in several cities and suburbs.
One piece of advice that you’d like to give to a person who is willing to start a cafe at his own expense?
Do your research. Talk to cafe owners in your region. Procure all documentation and tax knowledge necessary.
Is there anything that you’d like to suggest to improve the condition of eSports sector in countries where it is still not as popular?
Every country progresses at its own pace once its exposed to something new, I feel everyone will catch up once the communities and consumers are in perfect sync with the industry & its trends.
The Hardest Part In Setting Up An eSports Cafe
These are some challenges involved in any business. Setting up a gaming cafe is no different and here are some of them:
- Determining the best place: determining the optimal location is important for any cafe.
- Setting up cost module: being clear about your expenditure.
- Keeping it sustainable: organizing mini-tournaments inside your cafe to keep the community engaged and to attract more gamers.
- Not burning Cash: not wasting cash on unnecessary aesthetics and save money
- Treating it like Gold Investments and not cryptocurrency: do not sell out if you face dry days. There’ll always be dry days in any business (unless you’re a car wash owner).
If you have some money laying around & you want to invest into something, consider a gaming cafe and not a crypto-mining rig.
One of the reasons why many gamers prefer to go to these cafes is because it feels like a second home for them. Who knows, the fate of future professional gamers lies in your hands, if you make the right decision.
I hope you learnt something through this interview. This article wouldn’t have been possible without Mr Sarvesh’s help. If you want to get in touch with him or have any queries, you can send a mail to email@example.com.