I want your opinion

Considering a new business venture in Maryland. Think of it as an Internet Cafe except it would be focused on fighting games. I would like to put my consoles in Vewlix style cabinets and charge at the door instead of trying to do an hourly thing (which really stunts the arcade fighting experience).

My only question is how much would you pay to enter an arcade that is all free play and has every game you could want to play with comp?

So you’re starting an arcade with a Starbucks?

Anyway, I’d go for like 10 bucks. That way people can impulse it if their friends just decide to go do something.

The start up costs would be incredible. You’d need space, so you’d have to buy or lease real estate, which is not cheap. Then you’d have to buy or have custom built your Vewlix style cabinets, which would be $2,000 each minimally between the cabinets, monitors, controls, consoles, games, shipping costs, and the labor required to set them up.

How many cabinets would you make? If you made four you are already out around $8,000.
I imported a Sega New Versus City cabinet and the VF4: Final Tuned Naomi II package and it cost me over $4,000 between the cabinet, Naomi GD Rom, and insane shipping costs.
Where are you going to buy the cabinets from? You going to import them? Are there even any U.S. distributors of HD arcade cabinets? Are you going to build them?


You should ask Ed from AiaB how much it cost him to start his gaming center up. He uses basic HDTV set ups for the most part with a few custom arcade cabinets running old 2D games.

sounds like a pretty nice idea. So it’d be like a classier arcade with consoles?

The food had better be salty.

Sounds nice. I think you should make those cabinets Lindbergh styled.


lemme cum over ur house

As someone in Maryland and thus part of your potential market, a local arcade like business sounds like a good idea to me as long as the food isn’t crap and you stay super current, like using imports as soon as they hit the arcades. Though as a chef in training, my standards for food would likely be higher than the average Joe. Perhaps for extra revenue, you could charge a fee for tourny holders, like a percentage? Granted you’d have to make it worth their while with stuff like amble space/great tourny environment and free entry for the tourney participants, but I’d consider it a viable option.

Now to answer your question, I personally would prefer to pay by a monthly subscription sort of deal. That said, assuming that extras like food/drinks are not free, I would consider ~ $8-15 a day and ~ $50-60 a month to be fair. After that, my customer’s remorse senses start to tangle.

Sounds like it would be a hit with fans but probably unsustainable, unless the FG community is significant. You need to offer them something they can’t get for free through local meet-ups, etc.

Everyone knows Maryland is bone dry for arcades of any type. Whereabouts are you thinking about for this? Baltimore or DC metro area or what?

And as far as price I would say $10, for me at least. When X3O had their $5 all day deal we alway had a good turnout, and that was for nothing like the level of service it sounds like you’re talking about.

In Montreal, there’s a bar called Cine Express, that has about 10 LCD sets set in booths, and people go to watch games, etc. But they also have DVD players for people to watch movies if they want.

My friend had the idea to make an SRK meetup there every Tuesday, about 3 consoles in different booths. You don’t pay to play, but everyone orders tons of food, which gives the place a lot of business, especially since Tuesdays are traditionally slow.

Problem is, is that oftentimes, booths are taken by people who want to watch things like, “hockey” and “football” so it kinda sucks valuable tvs get used for things like that.

I’d personally pay only about 5 bucks, 8 bucks max. It has to be at least less than a movie ticket.

Good point. Perhaps include stuff like Fios quality internet (iirc, not every in Maryland can get fios, let alone have it) arcade stick repair/sell/mod venders, machine sellers, game selling, bets on winning, mini restaurant ? Just throwing stuff out there.

A place in hunt valley tried to do this last year, but they 1) charged way too much 2) had old games and broken cabs 3) listened to suggestions but really didn’t follow up on anything that was said to them.

And yea, don’t just focus on fighting games, because that’s def. not gonna fly. Focusing solely on that genre alone, is not a good business decision unless you have a way of promoting and having people come through the doors. The biggest obstacle i see you facing is having people come in during the week. I dunno, maybe you could do like guitar hero tournaments or whatever is popular with the kids. But yea, if this takes off i’ll be there playing, arcade > console.

All I know is asking people what they are willing to pay doesn’t work. The reason for this is no one actually knows what they are willing to pay until it’s actually a reality. Plus the people who will say what they will pay will give you biased information.

I also agree that if you are willing to go through with this you have to be more ambitious about it. You have to target a large variety of gamers in order to sustain your business.

One thing I would suggest is adding music games, and console set ups for FPS games as well. Fighting games don’t appeal to the general gaming audience so you need to target others besides just people from a niche genre. Also, make sure to copy X30 and allow people to hold birthdays parties at your location.

Also, I agree, the atmosphere needs to be nice, and the food shouldn’t taste like ass. Don’t make the place look like a nerdy ass gamer haven, but instead market it to today’s youth.

Also, if your business model is going to be to only have people pay to enter as a fullday pass or whatever. Then to make sure you accumulate additional revenue from your customers you should make sure there is a readily available food, which is of good quality for sure. Like obviously it can be whatever junk food kids eat these days, lol

I think maybe a cheaper fee for those just wanting to stop by after school for a few hours would be good as well. You shouldn’t just have it be a pay to enter kinda thing. Cuz obviously the price would need to be higher to accomodate for the fact that you aren’t charging hourly.

Thanks for the great feedback. I was a little worried people here would think I was trolling.

First off, the reason for me wanting to do a fighting game focus business is simple. I have a passion for competitive fighting games. I want to see this scene grow. I want to mature the community in Maryland so our local players get the notoriety and attention that Cali, Texas, and NYC.

I guess first I should clarify what this business idea is. I want to create the new Gametime Arcade for 2010.
I want to create a Japanese style arcade for the Baltimore / DC area. However as everyone knows, arcades aren?t really feasible anymore. The start up costs are tremendous, the games selection is limited, and getting them to Maryland is expensive.

So I looked into the idea of doing a gaming caf. While the business plan for such a venture is well known, there seems to be a little issue when it comes to fighting games. People rent stations by the hour, this actually prevents camaraderie as people get into the messy affair of who pays for what.

In the classic sense, arcades work that there is a fighting game, you put your quarter up and play when it?s your turn. No one owns a station for an hour or so, and competition is naturally promoted in this way. I want to recreate this atmosphere as much as possible, thus the reason for the pay at the door idea. You get inside, put up your penny or card at the machine you want to play and go for it. No politics.

I also want to have lots of stations as there would be lots of tournaments, and the last thing I want to happen is to have large successful tournaments with 100 people standing around doing nothing but waiting. I want people to play others, not feel limited in anyway who you play and have a great time. I witnessed at a failed business in Towson called VGA when they had Soul Calibur 2 tournaments, they would hold the tournaments, and you would spend a lot of time watching and very little time playing, particularly if your bad at the games and can?t get anywhere on the brackets. You paying $10 to play 2 games and stand around for hours sucks.

If I can get the stations to be in Japanese style versus cabinets (with the proper USB, extension mods needed to let people use their own sticks and pads) then the feel of the experience will be enhanced that much more.

And even though this idea is mostly for fighting gaming, I won?t ignore other games from other genres. Madden, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Modern Warfare, Halo?It?s all good. But my idea is really to help the fighting game community first and foremost.

Anyway, to let everyone know, this thread is helping me do a feasibility study on whether this idea can fly. You guys have brought up a lot of really good points.


I am considering having the cabinets custom built within my family. I have relatives who are quite good at woodworking. HD cabinets really isn?t as much an issue as getting the proper HD monitor to maximize the experience.


Staying super current shouldn?t be difficult since I am using consoles. At the moment all the buzz is around SF4 and T6, but other titles would naturally be available.

Oh and tournaments, and other events are part of the business plan. Just need to look into those pesky Maryland gambling laws.


Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania have a very healthy fighting game community. Delaware has plenty of players as well. But figuring out the cash flow of the business in question is part why I am doing a feasibility study.


You are right on how sad the arcade scene in Maryland is. I know for a fact there is a large contingence of players looking for some local way to bone up skills and meet new people without going online and playing their close friends all the time.

How often does X30 do the $5 all day deal, and on what days?


Promotions for this business is easy in the internet age. Tournaments are the primary vehicle for getting attention. Fortunately, thanks to sites like this one, twitter, you tube, and streaming sites like Justin.TV I would have plenty of opportunity to promote this business. I certainly won?t make the mistake of having the wrong games and not listening to the community.

Thanks again for all the feedback.

i live in VA and i think it would be cool and i would come up there. i agree with the guy who said charge no more than 8 bucks and try to make a profit off the food.

lol, x3o ain’t doing nothing no more. But when they were around, they did it for about a month, sundays to thursday if i remember correctly.

and if this thing gets going, you better make sure your monitors/tvs don’t lag

It was a summer-only thing to keep the kids at all the high schools around it interested… normally it was $4 an hour or something dumb.

Not to mention they had laggy TVs and no space to spread out.

You might wanna try throwing in some consoles with more mainstream appeal games, like GH/RB or DDR or something. Just to get more people. They don’t need to be in a cabinet, just lock them into something, and drill a hole in the something for the instrument/dance mat cord.

If you build it they will come.

4 Players By Players.

Md needs this… have all of the main games with good setup and good comp.

Just make sure it in a good location… you shoud try downtown silver spring or some place with lots of foot traffic. Maby near a metro station or college… PG Plaza has a new development… they have plenty of
space to rent… and its waiting for an arcade.

This is a mad stupid idea but I was watching It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and they were at Dave and Buster’s and they were talking about attracting business using something like the Dave and Buster’s card to put money on there so they have to spend it at Dave and Buster’s. The problem was at the bar they just basically gave shit away with their fake money.

What I’m saying is it would be cool if there was a card system for food and games so people can juggle both. I know that whenever have money left on those kinds of electronic cards I normally go back to use it and spend more money. Though start up cost is high to set a system up but it makes it feel more modern than just pushing in quarters, and you probably won’t end up like it’s in It’s Always Sunny.

Back on topic, this sounds great though. If I lived in Maryland I would definitely go there. a $5 deal sounds like a steal if its all day. A movie is expensive as hell these days and that is like 3 hours tops for 10 bucks. But I agree that the price of this would attract more people if it is less than a movie.