One of the phrases I no longer hear in this industry is ‘Cyber Café’. A remnant of the past, at least here in the west, a gaming or cyber café was a place where a user could buy some PC time and play the best titles of the time with friends, either in the same room or across the internet. It offers an inexpensive way to get into gaming with middle-end kit and comfy seats without shelling out for a full system. However, these venues are now few and far between in North America and Europe, but business is still going strong in Asia. We see this with gaming café products in the market from motherboard and GPU manufacturers, as these venues can hold 200+ machines at once and generate a lot of foot traffic day in and day out. These places allow users to book seats from home, and even order food from a kitchen to arrive at the desk you are playing at. It really is a world away from what most of us are used to on this side of the world.

Now I mention all this because we got a surprise when we hit the GeIL / EpicGear booth at Computex this year. It was one of the more impressive looking booths of the show just because of the design: it felt totally futuristic and sci-fi, and then I learned why they designed the booth in this way. The goal here for EpicGear is to provide all-in-one turnkey solutions for cyber cafés that can be deployed in days/weeks, rather than months.

 
Walking into the booth, from Level1Techs

Around the booth were gaming machines set up with monitors and chairs, and spaces to act like a bar or to serve food. Call it Star Trek-esque or Guardians of the Galaxy-a-like, but it does look like something ripped out of a science fiction universe.

It was unclear if the goal of these turnkey solutions was to provide the PCs as well, but our rep stated that the goal would be to work with the client, map the space, and provide almost everything needed to get up and running with this style of venue within three weeks from agreement to revenue. This includes the desks, wall modules, lights, etc. I know a couple of other journalists saw the setup and also agreed that it is a shame we don’t have this sort of thing over here.


It's time to eat food and kill some enemies

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  • rocky12345 - Monday, June 25, 2018 - link

    The computer store I worked for about 8 years ago had this kind of setup. Not on such a large scale since they only had 6 systems setup for gaming stations. It was a bit of a pain because you had to have someone constantly sitting out front keeping an eye on things because of potential looting of store inventory and the mess they left behind was also pretty bad sometimes. The swearing and yelling was also pretty bad which upset some of the regular customers that came in just to show or get service work done.

    At the end of the day it was decided that a full computer store and a gaming cafe was not an ideal fit when both were in the same outlet.
    Reply
  • Peter2k - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    Doesn't the article say this is a cyber cafe only? Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    "It was unclear if the goal of these turnkey solutions was to provide the PCs as well, but our rep stated that the goal would be to work with the client, map the space, and provide almost everything needed to get up and running with this style of venue within three weeks from agreement to revenue."

    Presumably the turnkey solution can be placed inside any business willing to pay for the site survey, equipment, and installation. The implication is a cyber cafe, but that doesn't mean that a cyber cafe can't coexist within another business like a computer store. As this was a booth at Computex, it already demonstrates the fact that you can cram this stuff pretty much anyplace there's floor space and it probably will be scale from small to whole building configurations. Of course, there's the obvious problems of messes and putting off your existing customers already mentioned if you merge it with a PC store. I had the same experience over the course of a year between 2000 and 2001 when my business partners and I tried building a LAN arcade in our computer shop -- it basically doesn't work and endangers the company's core operations.

    That said, there's little to no market for something like this in the US. You don't use your own hardware or have access to your own games and saved data and you're not in the comfort of your own home. Sufficiently quick Internet access is available over the vast majority of the nation and homes have enough space to handle large computers which is unlike some urban areas in many Asian nations where the high cost of living and population density force people into tiny places where it's a physical difficulty to stick a mid-tower desktop and 30 inch screen. So yeah, while I think the concept is visually impressive and the idea would probably appeal in the Far East, high operating expenses and low customer turnout would make for a looming bankruptcy in North America.
    Reply
  • Peter2k - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    "It was unclear if the goal of these turnkey solutions was to provide the PCs as well, but our rep stated that the goal would be to work with the client, map the space, and provide almost everything needed to get up and running with this style of venue within three weeks from agreement to revenue."

    To me that reads as:
    We don't know if it's only the furniture, walls and lamps and the owner (of the cafe) has to buy and install PC's himself or if they come with the full package.

    As in, they're not selling PC's but provide them and install them in the booths.

    Also
    "The goal here for EpicGear is to provide all-in-one turnkey solutions for cyber cafés that can be deployed in days/weeks,"
    Cyber cafes

    And besides
    I don't think cyber cafes like that are popular in the western space at all.
    For gaming at least.
    But very usual for the Asian market.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    I don't really care about where the PC hardware comes from. When I say hardware, I generally refer to fixtures, wall coverings, tables, chairs, and possibly computing assets as well. The particulars of the offer aren't relevant or significant enough to quibble over, nor are they directly related to my response.

    Regarding your "Also" - As with many things in life, money gets you what you want. Businesses selling products and installation services like these are not going to turn away an install contract just because the purchasing company happens to call itself a computer shop or a hot dog stand as opposed to referring to itself as a cyber cafe. Denying a potential customer and associated profits over a quibble about where the install is going to sit and who will operate it (within reason) is in defiance of the profit-maximization objective of a company.

    As for your "And besides," it's clear you're skimming rather than reading with any great care. It's the Internet, I don't expect any less yet I'm disappointed nevertheless.
    Reply
  • Thayios - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    Wouldn't work as well in the US unfortunately, there would be no safe space for people to spew their toxic garbage (racism, etc.) of a mouth like they do from the comforts of their home. Reply
  • Tewt - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    Misuse of the term, safe space. That is a place for the perpetually offended where they can avoid micro-aggressions or words that are deemed 'acts of violence' that only they know the rules. Reply
  • edzieba - Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - link

    Both ends of the whackjob spectrum exhibit the same behavior: demanding others provide an unencumbered service to spout their particular rhetoric, and throwing a major wobbler if they are told to pipe down. Reply
  • DukeN - Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - link

    le epic sir Reply
  • Andy Chow - Friday, June 29, 2018 - link

    The dirty truth behind cyber cafés is that it's mostly a place for Asian people to store their homeless population. In Japan and Korea, the personal computer and gigabyte internet speed penetration per capita is the highest in the world. Why then would people go to a cyber café in those countries? Because they are homeless, and Asian are all about saving face, so instead of going to a homeless shelter (which virtually don't exist in Asia), they spend the night at an internet café.

    It's a "dirty secret" to save face.
    Reply

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