Hi Everyone,

I'm Craig Ryan, co-founder of Pixel Bar which opened in October 2019 in Leeds. We're a bar that is dedicated to all things videogaming and esports. In the venue we have 12 high-spec gaming PCs available for customers and several console booths. Our cocktail menu is also inspired by the videos games the staff love to play!

Since opening I've had dozens of people DM me to ask for advice/tips on how to open an esports bar, I also had a lot of comments telling me it wasn't financially viable or possible to do. The purpose of this AMA is to tell you that it is possible and give people the chance to ask any questions you may have about how things work or what our plans are post-pandemic.

To say that the last 12 months have been tough for us would be a massive understatement! We all have our fingers crossed to be able to safely reopen on the proposed date of May 17th. After such a tough year I'm excited to start running Pixel at full capacity again, that means more viewing parties for major esports events and more community tournaments to help develop the UK amateur esports scene.

You can find out more about us or stay in touch through our website or socials:





We're looking for locations for the next Pixel Bar, let me know if you think your city is a good candidate for an esports venue!

EDIT: 18:45 GMT - Taking a break to eat and watch WandaVision. I'll come back and answer some more questions later tonight!

Comments: 680 • Responses: 75  • Date: 

Zanzarah10349 karma

This is a really cool looking place from the website! What type of measures to make sure consoles and PCs don't get drinks spilled on them?

5-well740 karma

PCs are bolted down to a platform above the desks so spillages aren't a worry there. Drinks getting spilled on everything else however... I've seen venues ban drinks at the gaming desks but in our experience we make a good return on drinks sold vs keyboards broken over the course of a year.

Also, if any keyboard manufacturers are reading, we're always happy to be sent new hardware to share with our customers! ;)

MONKEH1142217 karma

How do you deal with the assholes? People messing with the kit, spilling drinks /wotsit dust on keyboards, potential thievery and the like? I've thought about this but the idea of "raise capital to build it" doesn't worry me as much as "keep the kit in a condition suitable to attract punters". I've run Lan events before when I was younger and there's always one chap who does some damage. All the best for your reopening when the apocalypse is over.

5-well323 karma

This is a common question and always a good one. We're very fortunate to have very, very little trouble from customers - particularly when it comes to theft. Our customers are amazing and really appreciate the place - they know the better they treat it the more popular it gets, the more popular it gets the more likely they'll still have an esports bar in their city for years to come. We sign customers in to their own accounts on the PCs and timestamp it on our system. So if a keyboard is missing when we go to clean up after their session we just check the cameras to confirm who took it.

Beer will inevitably get spilled, particularly as a customer is on a 5 game losing streak and the 6 pints he's had has made his chances of winning even worse! We just have to look at money earnt on drinks vs money lost on repairs/replacements and so far we do okay in that regard.

RakdosUnleashed130 karma

Hi there! I'm looking to open a similar concept, but with card and board games as well as consoles/computers. How did you determine your price structure (pay by the hour vs monthly memberships, etc)? Did you rely heavily on social media advertising or word of mouth at the start? I'm glad to hear that you're making something like this work!

5-well188 karma

Hey there - First of all, best of luck if you do go ahead with opening your own place!

Price structure - We've toyed with different pricing structures since we opened. Currently we offer an hourly rate but discount the price if customers bulk buy gaming time. Obviously this encourages customers to stay longer/come back another day to get full value. We try to keep prices as low as possible to cover hardware damage and staffing. Less money spent on gaming = more money spent on drinks = better customer experience.

We relied heavily on organic social media growth and word of mouth - we had very very little marketing budget (a few £100). So we had to be creative and determined to get the message out there, something we still struggle with as the pandemic has severely hurt us financially and prevented us from stepping up our marketing.

mitharas27 karma

Less money spent on gaming = more money spent on drinks = better customer experience.

From multiple comments here it seems your main income is from drinks. Do you have a house rule that prohibits people from bringing their own drinks in bottles? It seems non-drinking/eating customers would be a net loss for your enterprise.

5-well79 karma

Customers can (and do) come and pay for game time only and not drink/only drink tap water. Most usually buy a drink though and we don't allow drinks or food in from outside.

Studoku71 karma

I've always felt that VR is too expensive for widespread home use, especially since it's still seen as a gimmick. Do you think that gaming cafes could provide a niche for it?

5-well101 karma

Unfortunately we don't have VR at the venue. We just don't have enough space to make it work in the unit we have. I have been to other venues in Europe that are VR Cafes and had a good time there. I think playing into the gimmick of it and making it a fun event with a group of friends is the way forwards.

I'd imagine a VR venue working more like an escape room than an esports bar in design. By that I mean separate rooms that you book out with your group for a special event. Certainly more focused towards staff parties/ meet ups rather than a couple drinks after work.

KimJongEeeeeew21 karma

Assume you’ve seen Otherworld down in London, if not visited personally? I’ve been in a couple of times as it’s 5 minutes from home. I reckon they’ve nailed it. I’ve got an Oculus at home, but it’s just not as practical. With a few mates and a couple of drinks, OW is absolutely great fun.

Will definitely be coming up through your place later in the year when I’m up that way. Do you recommend booking anything or just showing up?

Did my reading... we’ll book

5-well18 karma

I haven't visited personally, been a while since I last got down to London to be honest!

Definitely recommend booking in advance, especially for Weekends! We'll be opening our booking system up again in the near future.

JDub862 karma

Have you ever heard of Meltdown bar? They took it on themselves to sponsor some EU quake players and send them to Quakecon. I'll always remember them fondly for that.

5-well59 karma

Yes, there's a Meltdown in Sheffield (about 40 miles away from us in Leeds). They opened a few months before us and it's a fantastic place that I recommend those in Sheffield check out when they reopen!

As for those looking to open their own esports bar, I personally don't think there's any need to sign up to a franchise such as Meltdown if you're the first to do it in your town/city. Although, if you have the excess capital and just need some creative guidance than maybe franchising is an easier option.

meehaja59 karma

Not so much a question, more of a statement with a question mark;

Leeds Leeds Leeds?

5-well64 karma

I'll answer your statement with a question;

All Leeds aren't we!?

ricky30242 karma

How are you still in business when you've been closed more than you've been open?

5-well132 karma

The truthful answer to this is by taking out a considerable bank loan and taking a big financial hit. It couldn't have been a shitter 12 months for us (and the hospitality industry as a whole).

brainlag214 karma

That's got to blow hard, but I'm impressed. TBH I read your post and was wondering how the hell you're still afloat if you've only had what, 6 months trading vs 18 months of bills... how long do you think it'll take you to recover from covid if the current predictions for opening back up hold true?

5-well34 karma

I think if this was just "another bar" to us as owners and we only cared about profit then we'd have probably just cut our losses when COVID hit. But we're so invested in this as a concept and a community that it wasn't a hard decision to double down and take out a loan to keep the business afloat.

It's hard to say how long it will take to recover. If covid hadn't happened I think I'd be here talking about our 3rd or 4th venue by now. Now the plan is just to stabilise the first and worry about grander plans later down the line. Hopefully customer confidence is strong and the vaccine works as good as we hope so that business can return to normal asap for us.

SlimyScissor34 karma

You say you're going to host viewing parties for esports events, do you follow any particularly closely and if so which? Is it part of your strategy in terms of how you market yourself in terms of "we have some great hardware for you to come experience X game like the pros"?

Also, next time I'm in Leeds I'll be sure to come check it out, I wish I had known the last couple of times I was up there!

5-well58 karma

We focus on what our customers want to see most, and invariably that's League of Legends. However, as a city centre venue we realise that many customers we attract (particularly on a Saturday evening) probably aren't huge esports fans, or even esports fans at all. So we try to show a lot of CS:GO and Rocket League (easy for the general public to pick up and follow) on the big screens on busy nights unless there's a major event on which of course gets priority.

We've marketed the hardware before - the PCs are great and the biggest factor is our dedicated broadband with super low latency to give players that competitive advtange. Sadly, the desks we opened with were a bit rubbish in all honesty so I was never truly happy with the "pro experience". Over lockdown we've invested in new desks which are more fit for purpose so hopefully our customers enjoy them too!

Looking forwards to seeing you next time you're in Leeds, take care until then!

space_guy9516 karma

Hey, been to your bar before shortly after it opened and had a great time! Hope to come back again when things get back to normal.

Not sure if youve considered it, but if you've got a bunch of high end gaming PC's lying around unused have you thought about using them for crypto-mining until lockdown is over? A decent GPU can generate £15-£20 per week and if you have a few of them they could help offset some of your costs while closed! No crypto knowledge required, just use one of the automated ones like Nicehash that do all the work for you and voila free money.

5-well28 karma

I have a bit of crypto knowledge so I calculated based on mining Eth directly if we did it. However, the staffing cost to get folk to check on the bar (I'm not available to myself currently) regularly, energy costs and the risk of dead GPUs mean that it's not really worth the cost for us. I have weighed it up however so thanks for the suggestion!

Our PCs are also in secure storage in-case of theft so that would have to be factored in too!

Hope to see you again soon :)

mrxovoc33 karma

If I wanted to start a gaming café or bar myself. Where should I start?

5-well103 karma

Bar experience - You need to be able to run a successful bar first and an esports venue secondly. Passion and knowledge for the esports/gaming side of things simply isn't enough.

Source: I can barely pour a pint - one of the other co-owners is the brains behind the bar operation and without him we'd not run efficiently enough for the rest of the business to be feasible.

zSuperMonky29 karma

How serious is virus protection? Have there ever been any issues? Or has there ever been an IP ban that ruined the experiences of others?

5-well36 karma

My brother works in IT security so we've got things pretty lockdown thanks to him, however having hardware on display to the general public will always have it's risks so we manage it as best as we can. No IP ban issues to date but it isn't impossible that we'll have that problem one day. Definitely something we need to better safeguard against.

Bajef26 karma

I'm considering opening a business in a few years and have a few if you don't mind.

How'd you raise capital?

How'd you test/determine the viability of your gaming bar?

In general terms, how were the 1st 5 years financially?

Was it worth taking the leap?

5-well48 karma

Hey, first of all - best of luck if you do go for it!

Raising capital was a mix of personal investment and start up loans. As a start up you have to be prepared to underwrite the loans personally so if the business doesn't work it'll be your personal mortgage/car/savings on the line.

Testing viability is a great question - we developed a comprehensive business plan that focused mainly on what the bare minimum we needed to do was and anything better than that was a bonus. Too many business plans I see seem to start generating extra revenue out of thin air after x amount of time but there's rarely evidence to back up these assumptions. That being said, all the business planning in the world doesn't compare to live data and we would have never have predicted what to do if a global pandemic occurs 5 months after opening!

Leeds had an esports bar/venue that opened in 2017 and lasted for a year before closing down. I was a frequent customer there and took a lot of inspiration from it but also saw many areas that I could improve if I was to do it myself. Whilst many would look at the fact that Leeds had a failed esports venue (and the fact most esports bars/cafes fail) and conclude that it means esports venues aren't viable I focused on the positives and looked for ways to get the most value out of what works.

Was it worth the leap? Even with the last 12 months, yes! I took the plunge and opened a venue I've dreamt about for years. Win or lose I'm proud of the business and the community we've built.

Rambles_Off_Topics9 karma

So what are you doing that others aren't? I see some of the stations are more secluded than others (sort of like an arcade esque look/feel to those stations). Most places I see now-a-days have long tables with open spaces.

5-well27 karma

Friendly atmosphere and great staff means we attract more than just die-hard esports fans. You need to have a venue that is simply a good place to go for a drink first and then add the niche of esports/gaming on after. Too many venues focus too much on the latter and expect it to carry a bad bar.

XenMonkey26 karma

I've always thought that businesses around your passions invariably become about you doing little to none of the passiony bit and all the business bit, like I'd assume that you're too busy to actually spend time drinking cocktails and playing games! So my question is - before the pandemic of course - did you get much time to actually enjoy the cocktails and gaming?

5-well36 karma

I often joke that the irony of owning an esports bar is that I no longer have time to enjoy esports so you're 100% correct there! However seeing others enjoy it in a public setting brings me a tonne of joy.

I'm definitely guilty of drinking away our profits in the shape of espresso martinis more often than I probably should! I'm fortunate to be carried by an incredible bar team who are usually much happier with me sat at the bar rather than trying to help run it!

pipersw33ts20 karma

You always hear horror stories about how restaurants and bars take over 5 years to actually turn a profit. In your experience would you say that your success came sooner or later than that five year mark and did the additional start up cost of the hardware make that time frame longer?

5-well47 karma

There's so many variables in our finances due to the pandemic. Opening in October 2019 means we've roughly spent 50% of the time we've been in business with our doors closed due to lockdown. Unfortunately loans, leases and rent payments haven't gone anywhere for us so the costs have remained whilst income hasn't.

As far as turning profit. Our first 5 months before March 2020 were very strong for us, I don't think it would have taken 5 years to turn a profit but at the same time we're a niche bar and people might just get bored of us after 3 or so years!

keychow17 karma

Hi there! I’ve actually been to your bar quite a few times back in July/August and had an amazing time so thank you for that!

As for my question, how will the bar change (if it will) when it reopens in May?

5-well15 karma

New PC desks, far far better and most importantly, more room for beer!

Revamp of the toilets - all the toilets have been replaced and we're improving the décor

Next Gen - PS5s and Xbox Series X's in every booth.

More/New tables - Our original ones are a bit wobbly now. We're getting new ones built.

Longer opening hours - You might even see us open till 6am some weekends!

From a previous answer see above. in terms of operationally - In May things will run a lot like they did in July/August, table service, rule of 6, order by app etc. When restrictions are fully lifted things will become a bit more fluid, we're hoping to be able to double up our new desks as console stations for smaller groups, the bar area will be completely opened up and customers will be able to order drinks from the bar. Weekdays which aren't as busy will probably run fairly similar to July/August but you can also order from the bar and come in bigger groups.

Also, I'm glad you enjoyed it when you came to visit! Hopefully we see you again soon!

nerdowellinever17 karma

Are my gfinity shares ever going to be worth anything?

5-well17 karma

Depends on if they ever take me up on my offer to sell Pixel cocktails at the Gfinity Arena!

The_Steel_Fox12 karma

Hey,I love gaming bars I'm an indie developer with an ok ish game,would you be interested if I sent you a few Steam keys for the PCs?

5-well14 karma

Yes! DM me your email and I'll reach out. Thank you and good luck with your game!

USSCofficail9 karma

How does gaming accounts work? Do you have a specific account for each computer/console? Can customers buy games and such on them? Also what is the draw for them playing there instead of at their house?

5-well22 karma

Customers are given their own account which they can purchase time on then use on any of our available PCs, the more time the buy in bulk the cheaper it is for them.

We have a library of games for customers to play but 99% of the time customers sign into their own LoL, CSGO, DotA account and play on that.

The draw is the atmosphere. Come down with a few friends and play side by side with them or against other customers. Our PCs are high spec and we have a super low latency connection to hopefully give players that extra competitive boost compared to what they get at home. If not, at least they can drown their sorrows with a few cocktails!

p3tch9 karma

Who was behind the saradomin brew cocktail and will they still play osrs?

5-well12 karma

Our head bartender and I'm afraid he plays WoW nowadays!

moplo9 karma

Hi! It's a cool concept and I hope it works out in the long run for you! How do you deal with people who go over their allotted time? You can't really stop in the middle of an online game.

5-well15 karma

We actively encourage players to keep an eye on their remaining time. We would never punish anybody for going over their time once or twice however. If a customer repeatedly took advantage of our generosity or ate into the time of waiting customers we'd have to charge them for it eventually.

Luckily for us our customers are respectful of the place and we don't have too much trouble with this. When we're quiet we'll throw in free gaming time here and there too.

Asaias_Wolffe8 karma

This is something that I've been considering for a long time now so to start off, thank you so much for doing this! Now to my question, I see a lot of answers saying about weighing cost of keyboard vs money spent when it comes to damaged items. Have you ever considered a "you break it you buy it" policy? If so why did you decide against it?

5-well23 karma

Never considered, never will. We trust and respect our customers enough to be careful with the products and they return the respect by taking care of the venue for us (or telling us if they see a customer who isn't!)

Accidents happen, beers will be spilt, but as long as nobody is coming in with the intention of causing damage we would never punish somebody for it.

Yann48 karma

Less of an ask, more of a hey! I work at a games company just round the corner from you, just off the Headrow above Gauchos. Or at least I did when I was allowed to go to the office!

Do you have any interest in engaging with the local Dev community or is that something I've missed entirely? GaMaYo was certainly looking for a new place to settle last I heard

5-well6 karma

Hey! This is something I spoke with the team about earlier today! We really do want to work with local devs, both to show off games and to give you discounts on after work drinks! Please drop me an email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) and we'll get something organised for when we reopen.

Take care!

LimeeSdaa7 karma

Are there any retro Esports games available to play at your location? You could try adding some Smash set-ups to attract that crowd.

Whenever I go to barcades, I’m always disappointed their old systems are plugged into HDTVs and not CRTs.

5-well10 karma

We have a Smash (Ultimate) tournament every Wednesday when restrictions allow. Great community and it was growing each month!

Slurpeddit7 karma

What is your best eSports memory in the bar ?

5-well19 karma

Having 8 teams in on a Sunday afternoon for a community LoL tournament. We had players from bronze all the way up to Master playing against each other but everyone had a great time, had a laugh and plenty of drinks between games. It wasn't the most profitable night by a long shot but it definitely gave us a "this is why we do it" feeling.

Slurpeddit6 karma

Must have been a great time ! Places like yours are an awesome opportunity for people to share their passion for video games and booze :D

Do you also organise events for pro games (like lol LEC or world's) ?

5-well8 karma

Yep! We sold out the venue twice for World's finals and hope to keep growing that side of the business as the esports industry continues to grow in the UK. We're also introducing beer companies to the world of esports too so hopefully we can attract more non-endemic brands into the space.

Other_Exercise7 karma

Thanks for doing this IAMA. What importance do you attach to location? And what's your average age of customer?

5-well8 karma

Location poses different strengths/weaknesses. A location outside a city centre will be far cheaper in rent but have a lower footfall, if you live in a small town that you know has a strong esports community then it might be possible.

Average age - we don't track this exactly but I'd say 25+ Many people think a gaming venue will be full of under 18s but this simply isn't the case (especially as we couldn't let them in without parents anyway!)

ja28547 karma

Are the margins there? I've contemplated investing in something like this but gamers seem (and are) cheap and broke. Tournaments are a good draw for certain games but alcohol and performance don't go hand in hand. Ive noticed when tournaments have been hosted where the gamers can get a drink or spend some money, they won't.

Is this the case?

5-well15 karma

There are cheap and broke gamers, there are also rich gamers who will buy the next table a round. You take the good with the bad but in my opinion both play a role in creating the environment and atmosphere that eventually attracts spending customers to come and stay for a few drinks.

Even on the quietest day if we only have people drinking water and playing games it means we have more bodies in than the other bars who don't have anybody in. Usually this is enough to encourage customers to come to us rather than sit in an empty bar.

It's dangerous to pigeon-hole gamers and something the esports industry does way too much. League fans are completely different people, with completely different spending habits to CSGO fans for example, and the business needs to flexible to meet everybodies needs as best as it can.

Intya6 karma

I've got a full Rock Band 4 setup for Xbox (two guitars, three mics, ION drum rocker, around 1,000 songs), but no one to play it with :( Any change of maybe being able to bring it all in sometime? Publish date ahead of time etc? I've got a projector as well if a bigger screen would help!

5-well7 karma

Hey, that's an amazing idea! Please send an email to [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) and we'll get a Rock Band evening planned for when restrictions are lifted!

msnmck6 karma

I've wanted to open a "gaming lounge" for ages now, but between location and startup capital I have no chance.

My questions are:
1) How did you choose a location?
2) What was your initial budget/how much did you spend to open and operate before generating profit?
3) How did you get your starting capital?

5-well8 karma

  1. Existing esports scene, good available venue and convenience.
  2. Sadly I can't go into specific details, hopefully one day when we've rolled out the venue to a few more locations I will be able to give a better answer. What I will say is don't even try without at least £100k for upfront costs and then as much again in case the business has a slow start or any unexpected issues. This value with of course fluctuate depending on country etc.
  3. Partial savings, mostly loans. A lot of risk, as a start up banks will only loan to you personally not the business, so if we had failed it was my mortgage on the line I couldn't just liquidate and run.

o0Brilliance0o5 karma

What amount of staff did you start with from day 1 and what does your ramp look like over the next 12 months? Just trying to get an idea of what your workforce costs look like compared to your revenue.

I may be wrong, but I would imagine staffing up too early can easily sink a small business so it must be a fine line to walk between having enough staff to handle demand versus too many staff which might lead to a loss for the day.

5-well12 karma

Obviously numbers depend on location/size of venue so what works for me might not work for others.

Starting up it's better to have more staff than less. Yes you might lose money on a quiet Monday but you're guaranteeing that customers are well looked after on their first visit and more likely to come back.

Our staff is why we're so successful. Don't be afraid to pay them more than other venues, you want friendly faces who are gaming fans too not just bartenders. We have a 100% staff retention since we opened which pandemic or not I don't think many bars can say. Look after your staff and they'll pay it back ten-fold.

Digitmons5 karma

How does it smell during a big tourney?

5-well7 karma

Honestly, Fine. Far better than most city centre clubs smell on a Saturday evening that's for sure.

matej865 karma

Any big plans for when the lockdown ends? I live in Leeds and am looking forward to coming back again.

5-well5 karma

New PC desks, far far better and most importantly, more room for beer!

Revamp of the toilets - all the toilets have been replaced and we're improving the décor

Next Gen - PS5s and Xbox Series X's in every booth.

More/New tables - Our original ones are a bit wobbly now. We're getting new ones built.

Longer opening hours - You might even see us open till 6am some weekends!

CaptainSubjunctive5 karma

Hi, I've been in a few times, and have since moved to Leeds, hoping to go again once vaccinated. I noticed that you have a sick tabletop space; is this something that you'd be looking at leaning in to, potentially with a separate room?

I ask as someone who likes running one-shots with plenty of booze, and really wants to sit in that GM chair, but is concerned that noise may preclude this.

5-well3 karma

Sadly a separate room isn't possible but we are able to turn off the speakers in that area to help with noise.

Probably isn't viable for a campaign on a Saturday evening but weekend daytimes and weekday evenings it would be quiet enough.

Kwinza5 karma

Can you open a place like this in Birmingham? Please and thank you.

5-well6 karma

You're not the first to ask and Birmingham is definitely on our radar! We need to find our feet again after the pandemic has hit us hard first however.

Zomg_A_Chicken5 karma

Do you put pineapple on your pizza?

5-well4 karma

Chicken, pineapple and birds eye chilli's - "Sweet & Hot"

MrSquishyCookie5 karma

Are you still doing HP and MP potions? Are there any interesting new additions to the cocktails/drinks menu? Looking forward to visiting pixel again when you can open!

5-well5 karma

We'll still be doing HP and MP potions! We've had a chat about maybe adding a stamina potion to the menu too!

New cocktails are still at development stage, we'll be announcing them on social media ahead of our reopening.

Upandaway20215 karma

Hi. I own a few bars in NYC and would live to collaborate on a esports bar. Would you be interested? TIA

5-well3 karma

Hey there, Always happy to talk. Drop me an email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) and we can arrange a call.

Pomegranate_of_Pain4 karma

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. As someone with a passion for gaming (video and board) and who has worked in hospitality for about 15 years, the idea has definitely crossed my mind to open one of these many times.

In Toronto, board game cafes are doing very well. There are a number of very popular arcade bars, and a new 7,000 seat e-sports stadium was recently announced to be completed in 2025. The market for these venues most definitely exists!

What was the biggest challenge you (and your team) faced when opening the bar?

What were some of the things you feel you improved on over the previous e-sports bar that you said had closed after over a year?

What would you change (pandemic aside) if you were to open up a new bar?

5-well7 karma

Toronto does seem like a great city for esports, I'd love to open a Pixel there one day!

Biggest challenge was finances and general business management, we're young lads who were setting up our first business so a lot of what we did was learning on the job. All the preparation and market research in the world doesn't help when a pipe bursts a few days before a grand opening! We took a lot of personal risk to open the venue and due to the pandemic it will probably be a long time before that risk begins to pay off.

We created a venue that was more accessible to the general public than the venue before us. You can't alienate somebody who just wants to sit down and drink a beer or you simply won't have enough customers.

If When we open a new bar, I want the venue to be more flexible to varying group sizes. Able to accommodate 1 person who wants a drink and a game, a couple on a first date all the way up to office parties in a way that is equally comfortable and enjoyable for all.

pull_a_sickie4 karma

What sort of chairs do you have at your venue? What’s your opinion on “gaming” chairs versus more office/ergonomic chair types?

5-well9 karma

We have GTOmega racing chairs. Between us, I'm team office chair if I'm sitting there for longer than an hour at a time but the gaming chairs are necessary for the aesthetic of the venue and the ones we have are definitely comfy!

Clone2764 karma

No question, just wanted to say that Wokes smells. Edit: ok apparently I need a question... do you also think that Wokes smells?

5-well5 karma

People keep asking me if the customers smell but never if the staff smell. You're correct, Wokes smells!

srizvi14 karma

What are your thoughts/advice for someone not wanting to make an actual esports venue (at least not yet), but rather organize eSport & gaming events at existing venue w/ a good layout? Win for the venue is more people in, more sales of their food/drinks, win for me is to create and run gaming oriented hangouts & events and earn revenue from tickets sold. I figure I could have a batch of equipment I'd bring and take for main events but for the casual hangout aspect of it, people are bringing their own stuff (laptops, fight sticks, etc).

5-well3 karma

We work with the local Smash community who basically run their own event out of the venue each week. Once we know the community are capable of running the event themselves and bring in enough revenue for the space they take up its an easy win for us.

Reaching out to venues that are struggling for customers or with separate function rooms that you could use will always be the best bet as they'll take extra customers in any form.

Robin4204 karma

What do you think about GameStop's supposed plans to pivot towards in store events and PC builds. They're looking at setting up league's and tournaments on a massive scale. I'm not sure how big gamestop is in the UK but I know they exist over there. Anything you should care about? Or is the fact that they don't sell booze enough to put all that in a different target demographic?

5-well14 karma

Over in the UK we have Game, who have been running Belong Arenas for years in stores around the country. They've recently been bought out and the new parent company is looking to bring the venues to the USA (sounds a lot like what GameStop want to do).

I'll refer to Belong Arenas from here on because that's what I know. These venues are good, they help grow the grassroots scene but they're very corporate and restricted to what they can do (no bar area, no flexibility). I really don't think they're financially viable which is why in the UK they only appear in the backs of traditional Game stores and even then it's in old towns/shopping malls where rent is dirt cheap. There isn't a chance one would open in the same city as Pixel Bar as the rent would kill them (plus Pixel hourly rate is cheaper so we'd just steal their customers!)

Not selling booze definitely means they have a hell of a lot more kids birthdays playing fortnite in than we do, to that I say good riddance! But overall, at the moment I see similar venues as good for the overall scene not as direct competition.

THINKFAST484 karma

Has the bar ever gotten in trouble for people misusing the games in offensive/illegal ways?

5-well6 karma

Not yet! Our customers are great and follow the rules amazingly well - I think a lot of it has to do with the peer-pressure of being around other gamers too. If 9 of them are behaving and following the rules the 10th person probably thinks again before they cheat or rage.

royalsJ3 karma

Do you have any Sim race rigs?

5-well4 karma

Sadly no, we just don't have the space for them. Hopefully in future locations.

TheSOB883 karma

Cool, I really miss gamer bars/tourney venues. My question is: How do you combat misogyny/sexual harassment in gamer culture?

5-well6 karma

We don't have much trouble in it, we took a zero tolerance stance on it and tbh customers mimic the situation they're in. If they see everyone else is tolerant and calm more often than not a customer will follow suit rather than cause a scene. Women actually began to come to us even if they weren't gamers as we're a place where they wouldn't get creeped on compared to a typical bar in the city.

tsrman3 karma

Anyone ask about software licensing yet? Users log-in to Steam, Origin, etc. on the PC or consoles?

5-well5 karma

Correct, most often users log into their own games. Particularly as they come to play esports titles which are tied to accounts they want to sign into their account.

We do have copies of popular paid games that customers can use but this honestly isn't very common.

tomwhoiscontrary3 karma

There are a few gaming bars around. Apart from your own, what are the best names you've heard? I feel like a good name is important.

5-well3 karma

Loading Bar is a good one, I really like that.

My original idea was Nexus Bar but I'm so glad we didn't go with that!

My advice would be; don't make it too "geeky". "Gamezone" or something like that could be anything from laser quest to a kids play area. You need to attract casuals, die-hard esports fans alone won't keep the business running in a busy city centre.

ClickToSeeMyBalls3 karma

How has the pandemic been for your business? I hope you’re doing okay.

5-well6 karma

The pandemic has been devastating for us in all honesty. We've had zero income for roughly 50% of the time since the business first opened whilst rent etc still has to be paid each month.

We're in the same boat as the entire hospitality industry, the longer it goes on the more businesses won't survive. We've just got to hang on a few months longer and hope that it's safe for us to begin operating again this summer.

TrustTheFriendship3 karma

This is random, but are you a big Bielsa fan? Love to get the locals’ perspective!

5-well3 karma

Yep! Bielsa is a God to us Leeds fans!

tristan98623 karma

For the pokemon cards on your drinks, do you put just any card on your drinks? I'd imagine with the amount of pokemon cards you buy, you could easily create a side hustle of just selling the really good ones on the secondary market

5-well9 karma

We match type to flavour - Strawberry (red) gets a fire card and so on. Regarding the rarity of the card, that's the joy of it for customers! They get the next one on the pile whether it's a Caterpie or a PSA 10 Charizard (note - it's never a PSA 10 Charizard haha!)

Zaenos3 karma

I've heard one difficulty gaming bars have is patrons focusing so much on the games that they don't actually drink much. What is your experience with this?

5-well3 karma

This happens yes, but the way I see it is these customers are a bonus. If we didn't exist they would be at home playing games not at our neighbouring bars which don't have games available. Therefore by getting them here slowly going through one beer we've generated a revenue stream that didn't exist before.

Often these customers are here in less social hours too so it's not like they're taking a seat that could be filled by a higher paying customer.

sephstorm3 karma

What does it take to be successful in this arena? How did you lean how to operate a business?

5-well4 karma

We're still learning, we make mistakes and we try to learn from them. Our naivety is a strength, our customers like that we're not corporate at all and truly care about making the business work for the customers.

sidneylopsides3 karma

Have you considered using the rigs to do some Ethereum mining while you're closed? Make some sort of income from the investment.

5-well4 karma

Good question - PCs are in storage. The staffing cost of having to check on them, make sure security is tight etc would dramatically reduce the return from what it already is. It might be slightly worth it but I don't think it's worth the risk of burning out the GPUs before we reopen.

Dwayne_dibbly3 karma

How often do you upgrade the pcs so they can run high end games on maximum?

5-well4 karma

We would have upgraded at the start of this year but considering we've spent 9 months closed the PCs are still almost new! Due to finances struggling because of the pandemic we'll try not to upgrade until the next gen of GPUs are released. Hopefully customers understand the delay due to the circumstances!

2y4n2 karma

What is your biggest cost factor?

5-well6 karma

Staff, but that doesn't mean you should ever pay them bottom rate or put less on shift than you need, happy staff = happy customers

Darknessie2 karma

Do you agree Goldeneye is the greatest game ever created?

5-well4 karma

I'll agree if you let me play as Oddjob.

JasonJaye19122 karma

Do you get many people that are super aggressive while gaming and how do you deal with them?

5-well3 karma

Nope, copying from my answer about misogyny but the same applies: we took a zero tolerance stance on it and tbh customers mimic the situation they're in. If they see everyone else is tolerant and calm more often than not a customer will follow suit rather than cause a scene.

maelunoc2 karma

How has COVID impacted you and do you think you will survive? Is it rewarding and you enjoy your day? I have long thought about opening an esports bar in my city, but an hesitant with the current climate.

5-well3 karma

COVID hit us hard, there isn't a bar in the country that can say otherwise. We will certainly survive and we hope things pick up for us quickly once we reopen.

As I've said in the another comment - the irony of owning an esports bar is that you don't have time to enjoy esports yourself anymore. You'll be busy in the cellar whilst a teamfight happens during World's for example and miss everything. You do get the satisfaction of bringing esports and hospitality together for the community however.

harveypeapod2 karma

Hi there! I’m currently a student at Staffordshire university doing the esports course, I’m wondering as an a person in the industry how useful you believe a degree in esports will be? The course has lots to do with broadcasting, team building, events management and more if you’re unaware of what it entails. Im excited to graduate and work in the industry but I’m unsure what employers like yourself would think to such a qualification? Thanks for your time and I hope to visit post COVID :)

5-well2 karma

Hey there, I've seen a lot of back and forth on Twitter about the Staffordshire Uni course. Personally, I don't know much about the course itself. I consider myself relatively on the outskirts of UK esports in all honesty, it's very London-centric unless you have some clout behind you from years of experience (such as Redeye pre-stepping away from the scene).

I'd be happy to chat in more detail over a call about your course and what you're looking to get into. I've stepped in and out of the industry with roles over the years so I might be able to give some advice! Drop me an email at [email protected] if interested and we'll have a chat.

whatalongusername2 karma

Here in Brazil, it was SUPPER common to have "Lan Houses" (basically, a room with several computers, maybe selling some soft drinks & snacks) that were almost 100% dedicated to gaming, especially in the late 90s / early 2000s, when most people could not afford a gaming pc, and when online gaming was still not practical. It was amazing!
How do you "convince" people to come to your venue, instead of playing at home?

5-well12 karma

Atmosphere and experience. Most esports titles can run on a potato so they don't need our hardware to play. It has to be about enjoying the event as an experience. Think of it as the same reason you go to a traditional bar when you could just drink at home for cheaper.

OldBloodNewBlood2 karma

This looks a lot like NQ64, are you worried about it being a saturated market?

5-well10 karma

NQ64 is a lot more arcade-like than we are. But no, the market is far from saturated. At this stage the more video game spots that open up the better, almost everyone is a gamer to some degree nowadays. If there can be 100 cocktail bars in Leeds and all do okay then there can certainly be 2 or 3 gaming venues in a city.

tomr12342 karma

Any affiliation with eDen? I used to love that place till it just disappeared out of the blue one day!

5-well3 karma

No affiliation, just a customer who also loved the place! When it closed I thought why not do it myself.

chivalroustroll2 karma

Since there will be a huge number of kids who are keen to visit a place like this due to interest in games, did you have any ideas or plans to make the place family friendly?

5-well2 karma

Kids are welcome until 7pm as long as accompanied by an adult. We have ideas to do more through the day, I personally want to help kids get into esports and develop their skills in a controlled environment however right now that isn't a profitable venture for us so we have to wait until we're in a stronger position.

chivalroustroll2 karma

I see. Thanks for the reply! Is the 7pm limit a business policy or local council requirement?

5-well2 karma

Council requirement based on our liquor license unfortunately!

pewzapdie1 karma

Why aren’t you in Manchester?

5-well1 karma


Keep an eye on our socials, pesky pandemic stopped Manchester once but we'll open there eventually!

IAmAModBot1 karma


5-well2 karma

There is proof at the bottom of the post.

degausser_gun-5 karma

Why not just call it "competitive gaming" since, you know, "e-sports" aren't actually sports. It's like how vegans try to name all their foods after real foods, it just seems sad and needy, doesn't it?

5-well9 karma

Why worry about what it's called? If I flat out called it "sports" it wouldn't stop anybody from enjoying the next rugby match they watch. I go with what the going terminology is, I personally wish it wasn't called esports because the pointless argument over its name gets in the way of people just enjoying a new form of entertainment.

Regarding vegans, if they want to call blended mushrooms a burger then go for it and more power to them. Again, it doesn't ruin the next steak I eat.