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I want to start an internet cafe/lan center


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#1 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 06:19 PM

I'm thinking a handful of computers to start with and leasing time on them, along with hosting weekly/monthly lans and a few other computer related things.
There's a lot more information that I don't feel like writing up today, but will do a pretty good article on tomorrow. Basically though, do you think something like this could be successful?
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#2 Otter

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 06:29 PM

Location location location

With a populous area, free wifi [we change the passkey daily to prevent neighbors from leeching, forcing them to come in], and a heavy emphasis on gaming and tourneys, you can fill an important niche that we lack in the states

Oh! and alcohol

I'm always complaining about how we need a Mana Bar

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#3 LD50

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 06:29 PM

if the area you create the business in has need of it, it will do well. kinda hard to tell in the us, though. with places like mcdonalds offering free wifi, you have to prove to your customers that going to you will be worth it. places like korea have cafe computers loaded with online games, and that's where a lot of players play at there.

so basically, location, location, location... and a little need.


also, anti-virus out the ass. someone will be using them for fucked up porn. some people will likely try to tamper with them for information.

#4 Otter

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 06:37 PM

also, anti-virus out the ass. someone will be using them for fucked up porn. some people will likely try to tamper with them for information.


AV is a must, we want players to feel their information is safe

as for snoopers, just have a user account with limited access to non-game programs, and have everything be read-only

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#5 emosaurusrex

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 09:04 PM

The one(s) I worked out/hung out at didn't turn much of a profit, but the management was bad.

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#6 Otter

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 10:00 PM

The one(s) I worked out/hung out at didn't turn much of a profit, but the management was bad.


Needs moar alcohol

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#7 K_N

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 03:06 AM

Your profit wont be from the computers, it'll be from snacks/soda/coffee. The computers are basically your advertisement.

If you can get a Coca-Cola freestyle machine installed, people will come JUST for that. Make the decor look nice, and be comfortable. Keep homeless and loud people out, and for god's sake, no musak.

Institute some kind of returning customer reward card as well, that will keep people coming back even if they don't really need to.

#8 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:20 AM

Mkay, a few extra bits of information, as I'm more awake now.

Location wise, there's a Fry's around here that's pretty popular, I'm thinking somewhere close to it as most of the employees and many of the customers would be interested I imagine.
I planned on having vending machines and such, as serving anything myself requires a lot of extra red tape shit. If needed though, I'm sure I could go through it. The freestyle machines look awesome, I'd love to get ahold of one of those.

I also planned on having a small section in the back to build computers for people, along with a laser engraver (they're way cheaper than I thought), a small mill, machine lathe, and some other basic tools for custom parts that would mostly be sold online, along with laser engraving stuff. I know custom water blocks and such are easy to make, in demand, and have a good profit margin, and engraving names/logos/etc on electronics could be a big profit turner. (Custom iPads and such I bet would be a big deal)

Past that, Emo, what are some things the places you worked for did right and wrong?

What would be a good color scheme for something like this? And would hard floors or industrial carpet be better?

Hardware wise, I'm thinking of starting off with a 24 or 48 port switch box for the hard wired computers. This should give me room to expand, and room for people to bring their own computers during a LAN party. I imagine gaming tournaments would also be a pretty good income source overall, both from food, entry fees, possible advertising, etc. What sort of internet speed would I need for say 10 starting computers? I believe the standard business package around here is 50mb/s, and I right in assuming that would be enough?

The computers themselves would be a big cost. I know it's going to be a year or so before this gets set up, so there should be a new line of GPU's out by then, but I'm thinking something in the $150-$170 range will normally play modern games at medium-high settings. As far as games go, does valve do anything special for places like this through steam?

On the software side, what are some good network monitoring tools? Antivirus wise, I use a combination of of AVG and Malwarebytes at work that seems to work well for people who aren't actively trying to break things. Would that be good for something like this, or would something more heavy duty be needed?
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#9 emosaurusrex

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:56 AM

There was a lot of theft. All the PCs started with nice mice and keyboards that would slowly disappear over time. Kids would spill drinks on the keyboards/mice and ruin them as well. The T1 line was extremely shotty, and when the high school kiddies would come in and hang out on myspace everyones ping would go to shit. We should have gone to fiber but the profit margins wouldn't have allowed for it.

As KN said, the fun part of it isn't the profit maker. You're paying for internet 24/7 on them, electricity on all of them while they're running, and having to keep the computers as close to top of the line as possible. (if someone could play at home on a machine just as good, why play at your LAN center?) Keeping one PC up to date is pricey; keeping 20+ up to date is insanity.

You're probably going to be breaking the law (we did), to do steam through a LAN center is extremely pricey - you're better off doing it under the table.

You're going to need a good programmer. Your less popular games don't need a license for each PC, so when it starts you assign it a serial from a pool of not-in-use ones; and doing that for each game is completely different. SmartLaunch can handle some of it, but then you run into the issue of game saves needing to be stored on the network instead of locally and imported when a user logs in.

It is certainly not a cheap endeavor - I'd highly consider getting a food license so you can buy in bulk from sam's (or a real distributor if you get big enough); IIRC we had to have one for things like prepackaged chips. As long as you're responsible it shouldn't be a pain (IE, keep the place clean).

There's more that I can't think of right now. I wish you luck but doing something like this is a nightmare to get going and keep stable.

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#10 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 08:28 AM

I imagine Logitechs new washable keyboards would help a lot with the spills, and I could probably come up with a locking system for the mice and keyboards. Electrical, though high, I'm hoping will be cheaper than it was just a few years back. Huzzah for IB/Haswell and the lower power consumption of GPU's. Also on that note, getting a solar grant around here is pretty easy.

As far as the games, I'll have to look more into that, and I would indeed need someone to set up the serial system. And for the food, I know how strict they are. The local paintball field got around it by saying they took donations in return for food. I don't know how well that worked though, it's probably going to be much better just to get a food license though.
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#11 emosaurusrex

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 08:32 AM

You'll probably want to set up an actual QOS system through a linux box, too. That would have solved our issue of internet browsing tying up the connection but we didn't have the $$$ for another dedicated box.

Also, patching is a PITA. Need to make sure every game on every machine is up to date.

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#12 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 08:39 AM

I don't imagine that would take a terribly powerful system, would it?

Patching I can see as a major PITA, that's why Steam would have been my go-to system to run the games off of.

I've been toying with this and similar ideas for a while now, but I'd like to start to get all the appropriate information and hammer down a really good business outline to submit for small business grants and loans to see how far I can get.
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#13 emosaurusrex

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 09:17 AM

Probably not. Most routers have QoS built into them (though they're mediocre, you'd want to do it through a linux box for sure).

Steam does have a cafe partner thing, but IIRC it is very pricey. I also don't think it manages time/accounting stuff, so you'd still want something like SmartLaunch to manage that.

We used to sell a lot of energy drinks and endless fountain cups. Fountain soda is super cheap to stock, we would charge like $2 for an endless cup and made A LOT of money from that. So you'd want a large fridge and some room for pallets of energy drinks (we used to use Annheiser Busch, they supplied every drink under the sun I swear)

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#14 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 09:29 AM

I couldn't get an exact price since I don't have a business address, but I found someone saying for 12 seats it's $90 each per year. For the amount of games available, that doesn't sound too bad. It also appears to play well with SmartLaunch.
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#15 emosaurusrex

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 09:43 AM

Hm, I can't get a consistent price. Some guy is saying $10/account/month, but since it is direct through rep the pricing is gonna differ. $90/year is a great deal though, especially considering they'll let you up your accounts for a free for special events.

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#16 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 10:04 AM

I imagine that you'd get a discount for yearly and more computers. I'll try to contact their support and find a more consistent price.

Also, it should be ok to build these computers without cd drives, correct? And 320-500gb should be a large enough hard drive for the games I imagine, with anything else on a local server.
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#17 emosaurusrex

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 10:12 AM

Yeah, 500g should be sufficient. I would say get the CD drives, or at least a couple you can swap around in case of emergency. You might want an SSD for Windows and a few popular games; we used to take snapshots of drives and restore them every x many days. It was a *very* long process because of all the data; SSDs would have made that a lot less painful.

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#18 SpleenBeGone

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 10:30 AM

I was considering having one or two external CD drives. At the rate SSD's are dropping, having one could very well be possible. I just did some price checking and was pleasantly surprised. I could build a relatively capable computer computer running an i5 and a 7850 for a bit under $1,000. This includes a 23" 1080 monitor, headset, spill resistant keyboard, and for a bit of style, a Razer mouse. There are a few other things I could skimp on, but I think using a quad core over a dual core, along with solid peripherals, case, and power supply will save me in the long run.
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#19 Otter

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 10:36 AM

I could probably come up with a locking system for the mice and keyboards.

Zip tie the mouse and keyboard cables close to the tower

You could then zip tie that to the table >.>

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#20 emosaurusrex

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 10:38 AM

Yeah, they're dropping quick. Hard drives themselves should go down a significant amount by next year as well. If you're looking at $1,000/station, that's not bad. You just need a desk and a chair and you're solid there.

What I wanted to do when it was still open was get some streaming software and have a few TVs display what other people are playing. Randomly pick through people and display them on the TV, or specify a person doing good or w/e.

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