I remember when the big one in london got closed down (the playing fields). A lot of events were held there and if that couldnt succeed then i'm wondering how anyone can make a large margin of profit from it.
Has nobody ever considered setting up a games console cafe? sounds obvious but less maintenance / upgrades / overheads and generally kids are more more into them for games. If you managed to get a premises right near a couple of schools you can imagine hordes of kids all going in after school to play their mates on footy games and so on and it'd get more popular quickly, it'd maybe have more widespread appeal than pc games/use.
The captial required for the PCS alone is thousands. premises, furniture, equipment. = massive start up costs.
The constant upgrading of hardware (every 6 months) No one wants to play on old hardware. ==$$$ computer hardware depriciates so fast.
The prevailance of cheap fast BB connections to the home now means that people no longer HAVE to go to these places to play networked games against each other.
And most people who engage in this activity now, already have the hi spec PC and connection at home anyway.
The only possible thing I can see is LAN tournaments, competitions etc, with entry fees. But this is the sort of thing that can be setup when needed, not a 24/7 business.
You need a massive potential customer base for this thing as to be frank it's still pretty niche in the UK.
You can't go internet cafe route, as things like easyCafe have this stitched up.
I used to frequent (well a few times) Shoot n Surf in New Oxford street in London in the mid 90's (the pcs were P166 MXX i remember) just to play some LAN quake and ISDN quake. That's a 7+ hour travel on the bus from Scotland just to get my quake fix.
This was about 10-11 years ago how times have changed. I don't think you'll get many customers making that kind of journey to your cafe.
I cant see myself using it tbh. As has been said, you need to target groups of people that cant play together any other way for it to work. So yeah, young-ish kids playing football games on the Xbox, groups of 4 that want to play C&C against each other but can't move their PCs around, etc.
It would also have to be pretty cheap to be attractive, and considing how expensive 20 gaming machines is going to be (and the fact you'd have to upgrade them all every year) I'm not sure how you can make enough money.
One thing that did work - in Leicester, back when I was in 6th form there was a grotty cafe in town that we used to have lunch in. It was an awful cafe, bad food, dirty etc, but it was cheap and (more important) they had an n64 with 4 controllers you could play on for free. We went to that place all the time, and probably spent way more on food (£3 each a time for a tea and a sandwich?) than we would have been happy if they charged us for playing the games. I'd forgotten all about that place till now.
There used to be one in central London called The Playing Fields if I recall. It hosted a lot of tournaments. I went a few times and really loved the place... sold lots of beer there too But it died when broadband appeared and I don't think it was unrelated.
I'd say most people nowadays just stay at home for a better experience.
There is one kind of near me (well, a long bus ride away) but I go there once every two months for an all night lan with about 50 people. They have been running for a few years now and seem to be doing ok out of it.
Although, one with projectors (you can get them for about £300 now, cheaper than a large telly) hooked up to a console with some sofas and a bar would be awesome with a few PCs for gaming/net as well. Although I would try and have it look good, the place I go to is a bit basic...
as he said, but aim it at youths, sell pizza and hot drinks etc, ice cream.
if it were me, i would have xbox, ps3 and a wii on a mediocre sized tv so that people could play while they drank or ate their food.
have some really nice comfy sofa's with good quality surroundings, i would be in their all night with a few pints, one of my mates did a gaming party once, 4 of us up till 4am playing 360, was great fun, unfortunately he didnt drink alcohol :<.
We used to goto the local one to play networked quake and command & conquer, but that was before most of us even had dialup! It was awesome, but now you can play online and get your fix that way I can't see many people stumping up the cost to go.
People who want to play networked games would probably just take their pc round their mates on a Saturday afternoon.