Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why We Left Our Location And Some Questions To Be Answered pt 2

As promised I am back and would like to speak about a few conversations I have had with people over the past few months regarding both our kickstarter campaign and our renovations.  For those of you who dont know, I actually spend a lot of time looking at social media in regards to feedback for the arcade and although its impossible to please everyone, I do make a genuine effort to try.  So I would like to set the record straight about an issue that seems to linger to those who arent fully informed and for those who havent actually taken the time to read through some of the blogs I have posted previously. 

Lets get into the matter of keeping the promises made through the kickstarter.  I promised to remodel an arcade and provide a place for people who love arcades somewhere to go.  This has not changed, and although there has been a change in location, that does not affect the fact that there will be a physical location that people can attend as soon as possible.  Also, there was a grand opening party promised, but due to many things going wrong we were stuck in a sort of stand still in terms of progress being made to complete the remodeling process.  A stage and stream area was never finalized and also the truss beams were never installed due a few factors.  But back to the main point.  The plans to have a fully remodeled arcade are still being worked on and that will not change.

Now onto a subject that has bothered me for some time and recently talking to a few people that used to attend our events, I have had a chance to try to put myself into their shoes to get their perspective on things.  I was told that the way I went about saving the arcade was in sense a "guilt trip" and set a negative tone towards people.  They didnt like the idea that I was blaming the community for their lack of attendance and stating that this was the cause for the downfall of the arcade.  This is where things can get sticky although this person has claimed to respect me for always being honest, he lost all respect for me an a business owner.  This is where I can start explaining myself and hopefully people can understand my personal view on this matter.  A typical business owner normally goes into business with the plan of making money.  I was basically handed an empty arcade overnight and left with a decision to either keep things going, or let the place just fade away.  This was back at the end of 2012 when Ralph decided to shut down operations.  So I stepped in and with the help of some people we ran a very large raffle that generated roughly $11,000 and gave away prizes somewhere in the retail worth of maybe $3,500.  The money gained from this raffle/donation drive was used very carefully to fill the arcade with machines and keep things going.  At that time I also had some savings I used to keep scraping by every month to keep the arcade up and running.  With all that, I managed to keep the shop running for about a year with no hiccups and people seemed to enjoy our events hosted there.  But just like any other business, the seasons change, business starts to slow down, and eventually financials do become a big issue.  This is where the idea of a kickstarter came about and how it all went down.

Now mind you, I work a ton of hours at the arcade just to keep it in decent condition.  There is a lot of things that are very time consuming when running a place that serves the public and when it comes to being clean, that is not a customers first priority.  Even just including the 3 nights a week where we are open till 3am to accommodate our customers, its not a simple task to work till that late a time and maintain a normal sleep schedule.  Regardless, youve heard it a million times, yeah yeah yeah, we work hard, we work long hours blah blah blah.  Thats really not the issue here though.  The real issue is, if people are not going to show up, then what is the point of continuing on with the arcade?  So as usual I spoke my mind and told the people that the arcade is dying due to a lack of attendance.  If it was a case of people not showing up and it was taking away my steak and lobster dinners, no problem, we can downgrade to McDonalds all day.  The problem is, we rely on each and every person that steps through that door to barely make it by every month, and when the attendance dips, money comes out of my savings to keep the shop alive.  So basically the kickstarter was a last ditch effort to either have the fans and patrons help out and rebuild the shop, or we could just close down and not have wondered what might have been.  The FGC showed its support and our kickstarter was fully funded, allowing us to move on and build a better Super Arcade for everyone to enjoy.  But here lies another problem.  Now all of sudden what seemed to be an achievement was somehow twisted into Watson was begging for money.  Let me say this, I was always a person that kept to myself and just worked hard to gain what I wanted in life.  This arcade put me in financial turmoil and I asked the people if they wanted to keep the arcade around, then they would have to pay for it.  I never begged for money from anyone and I even had to stoop down very low and borrow money on many occasion just to get by.  People dont see what really happens behind closed doors and only see the nights where we are packed and think we are raking in the big bucks.......  dream on.....

So as things stand now, I really hope people dont feel like I was trying to guilt trip them into attending our shop and events.  I never had the intention and only complained publicly because you always here people say, "I wish I went more before they closed" or "I shouldve hit up more tourneys," and then when they dont, the business shuts down and you are left with no where to go.  I simply stated the obvious that people werent showing up and if they wanted the doors to stay open they needed to make an effort.  If I was wrong for doing so, Im not sure how to explain it because I dont feel as though I have wronged anyone.

My job now is to continue searching for a better location and gets things up and running as soon as possible.  We are looking at our options locally for now but if nothing pans out we will still pursue other surrounding cities who will grant a business license for an arcade.  This is a tougher task than many people can understand, but its not impossible either.  Anyways, its 5 minutes before the new years kicks in, hope all of you have a safe time and heres to a brighter year ahead.  Happy New Years Everyone.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why We Left Our Location And Some Questions To Be Answered pt 1

Hello everyone.  This year didn't close out exactly as expected but I do feel making the choice of finally changing locations is the only option in moving forward with Super Arcade.  I know many people have complained about this scenario, and to some extent they have their right to.  I actually went on stream as soon as things were panning out to explain everything so if you care to watch our "press conference," here is the link. YouTube Link

Basically the video just sums up the major questions of why we are relocating, how much money was wasted at the current location, and whats next.  The main reason we are relocating is because the rent is $6,000 and even with the upgrades and new tourney schedules, it just doesn't make any sense.  My month to month lease was also canceled as of December 4th and I was being forced to either leave or sign a long term lease.  For anyone who thinks it's easy to pay $6,000 over and over and over, regardless of the turnout we have here, please think again.  When business is slow, the bills do not stop.  I have kept the place open for 2 years regardless of what was going on as there was always slow weeks just like any other business.  The arcade business is definitely not profitable but I continued to do it because it is my passion, and I will continue to do so because this is what I live for.  As of this moment I do not have an exact location picked out, but the new spot does have a few requirements.  First off the lease must be no more than $4,500, have ample parking space where cars will not be towed for parking during late hours, and also have a minimum of 3,000 square feet of space.

Now let's get to the part about wasting money.  So basically we replaced the entire flooring in the arcade area, replaced all the lighting, replaced the ceiling, painted the walls and ceiling, and of course.... remodeled the restroom.  I would say a close estimate of roughly $18,000 was used to change and repair the cosmetic aspects of the arcade that are lost.  The only positive out of this was that if I moved, I would have had to repair everything anyways before leaving because the floor and restroom were not even close to usable at the time and I would have lost my deposit of $7,000 had that happened.  So aside from the time spent, roughly $11,000 is wasted but once the new location is up, I will be saving at least $1,500 a month just in rent and that number can easily be recovered.

The last couple months Super Arcade was gaining momentum and the revenue was showing a nice upswing especially since Super Arcade and Level Up parted ways.  I don't know why things aren't obvious that by not having Level Up here, the arcade's revenue is definitely in better shape and people still say things about the situation as if they know exactly what's going on.  Let me break it down real plain and simple....  And this has been on my mind for a very long time but I feel it's time to finally let the truth be told.  The decision for the departure was not brought up on my end, but it was ultimately my choice in the final outcome.  As it was 100% obvious, the arcade was struggling for a very long time, yet the situation I was in was not helping as I was splitting the revenue from venue fees for both #WNF and #TRB.  Funny thing is, I wasn't receiving a split from the stream revenue or possible sponsorship money coming in........  In the beginning, this deal was made almost 4 years ago on a handshake and I wasn't the owner at the time.  My goal was to get people in the building and have them spending money on our arcade cabinets and concessions.  Eventually the tourney crowds started to spend less and less on arcade machines, and just focused on using the consoles on those evenings.  I also became the sole owner 2 years ago and it is partially my fault for not renegotiating the deal.  So all in all, without Level Up being at Super Arcade for the final month I think our income increased at least by $2,000.  I was also irked a bit by the comments posted on Level Up's official website when they released the news of their departure from our location.  Level|Up's Statement  If you read through this, they mentioned that financials became an issue for me, yet they fail to mention they were making almost double what I was making for these events they worked so hard to get me..........  Regardless, we agreed that business is business and at the end of the day, this move was in our favor and I truly have no beef with Valle.  And for the people saying that I used Level Up for our kickstarter and nonsense like that, let me say this.  If anyone wanted the kickstarter to work, it was them because they had so much to gain from my establishment.  I payed the rent, I payed for the electricity, I payed for the internet service, and they had a free ride with no risk.  I was also the one who did all the work in making the kickstarter happen and I received no help from them during the remodel.

So there you have the truth about the situation and now maybe people will fully understand why things turned out the way they did.  I was not ditched by Valle, I didn't kick him out either, and I was foolish for not renegotiating our conditions.  Live and learn and move on.  I will be making another blogpost real soon in regards to some recent conversations I have had with the people who supported us and I want to spend some time to address and share my thoughts on them.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Happened 10 Years Ago Regarding Evo

So if you have kept up with my blog and senseless rants on stream and what not, you would know that we just finished running what I thought was a really successful tournament that showcased the older games in the Fighting Game Community.  You would also know that with the success of this event there will probably be another one coming sometime later next year.  But we will get a little more into that at the later end of this post.  Today I am here to explain in as much detail as possible what was planned 10 years ago and how Evo was actually brought to the stage in Las Vegas.  Without further ado, here we go....

So fresh off the now famous "Evo Moment #37" the original tournament organizers, Tom and Tony Cannon, were feeling the drag of things and just wanted someone else to take the wheel and keep the event going.  This is the moment in time where I felt Wizard's life took a turn for the worse.  He was always one of those guys who pushed things to the extreme when given a chance.  He ran some tourneys while working for Golfland back in the day and made sure everyone knew he was the one that was so called "in-charge."  I would assume this comes from years of not having any type of power and always being shut down when it came to expressing himself.  I personally have no proof of so I cannot elaborate much, but through many years of interaction and discussion among our inner circle of friends, we all agreed that is the most likely cause.  Anyways, back to the story.  So the Cannons appointed Wiz as the new head of Evo and expected him to get things rolling.  The tournament was growing and Wiz knew he needed help so he came to talk to me.  I was given the role of "financial backer" at the time and we had a few meetings to discuss how we would handle things.  Here comes the part of the story where I can only talk from my perspective but everything aligns years later to all make sense.  As the financial backer I was also responsible for booking the venue and we agreed to throw Evo at the same location.  After securing this location and leaving a down payment, we go over some details and discuss things such as entertainment and expected revenue.  The year prior there was somewhere around 500-600 unique entries and the venue fee was $20 per person from what I recall.  That alone is $10,000-$12,000 in revenue from the players and enough to cover the cost of venue and other staffing required.  So throughout the talks Joey, who was actually the more sensible one and talking about doing things a little more economically, his obvious goal was to make money from it.  My view was totally different as I already had an outside source of income and wanted to make this experience awesome for the people in attendance.  At one point I brought up doing free raffles and giving away things like brand new Playstations, Dreamcasts, and even a car if we generated enough income from entries.  He was very against this and once again, he was definitely in it for the money.  Another funny idea I had was bringing in dancers and porn stars to wiggle it in a cage or something.  Just an idea to spice up the tourney as I had a close friend at the time who's older brother was making a ton of money selling non-mosaic japanese porn DVDs and also had the rights to a few popular stars at the time.  Kind of a null fact but throwing that in there for your entertainment :)  So anyways, as it stood, we weren't in agreement on how we wanted things but I knew he was the boss in this situation and just said screw it, I'll do my part and let's make it happen.

2 weeks later.... Days go by and we are nearing closer and closer to the scheduled event.  I haven't spoke to Wiz for a bit and figure I might as well contact him to see if I needed to cover anything else on my part.  This is where everything goes bad and where I seriously should of cut of any ties with him as a friend and as a business partner.  His first comment to me was, "Why didn't you contact me?  We didn't speak for like 3 months!"  Mind you, I wasn't the only one at this meeting and I do have witnesses.  This has always been a thing for Wiz.  He never takes any initiative and always finds a way to blame someone else for anything, but this time it was obviously on purpose as he needed a way out of our verbal agreements.  Come to find out this guy has been in talks with MLG and somehow was receiving a free room to throw Evo in Vegas.  Wow, a free room, that equals more profits and more money we can throw at the players in terms of prizes and what not.  Awesome!!  But wait a minute....... The picture was getting all too clear and all too fast.  I was getting the boot.  There was no formal explanation, there was no friendship when money became involved.  All that existed at this very moment was me being told I made no effort to contact Wiz and him and Seth were going to work with MLG and it was my fault.....  Had I been told that I was just the "financial backer" or even given some other bs story about how I wasn't needed, I honestly would have been fine with all this.  But to basically just make up some crap about how I didn't contact him for over 3 months, which is impossible obviously, then just boot me out of the blue, this was step 1 in discovering how unprofessional this person was when it came to dealing with anything involving money or power.

Now as a complete outsider to this whole situation, you might wonder why I would be so upset, or even think of it as somewhat petty to hold any type of grudge, so let me explain further.  I was approached to help firstly as this was not my idea.  I also did my part and reserved the venue, paid for the venue, and then was kept out of the loop which could've cost me a few thousand dollars in deposits.  Then all of a sudden another opportunity arose and this greedy bastard just dropped me liked yesterday's news and split without even having the courtesy of telling me as soon as possible so I could cancel a reservation and save myself some money?  There is also the factor that at this point we are supposed to be friends.  This isn't a situation where I was just an outsider and trying to pry my way into something.  I was invited in and we were friends at the time.  I was more fortunate that Wiz along with many others and we always offered him rides since he didn't have a car or a driver's license till he was somewhere in his mid 20's.  Mind you I was also the one who took him to buy his first car that he still owns to this day.  So that hopefully explains to you the position I was in when this stuff occurred.  It's sad to bring all this up cause I just don't want to be that guy that causes someone else to fall.  But if my info leads to a revolution and causes the FGC to become a better place, than so be it.  I tried to tell the Cannons about what happened but their response was basically, it's not a lot of money Mike, just let it go.  I continued to approach them and let them know that I felt really uncomfortable with the fact they they had built up this whole thing and now they are just letting Wiz reap all the benefits.  But they are self made millionaires and have a very huge heart.  They saw it as something that wasn't a big deal at the time and just saw that the community was moving in a good direction and let some stuff slide I suppose.  At this point I'm just glad they came back on board and are not only running things, but also making a couple bucks as well.  As for Wizard, that's a whole different story.  He doesn't deserve anything and he is just a completely selfish prick with an ego the size of Barry Bond's head.  I will keep discussing matters along a timeline and I honestly hope the Cannons eventually do something about it.  I hope Wiz losses his position at Evo because its obvious that PR is not his forte.  Even if he has to step back and take a position where he isn't the face of it all, that would satisfy me.  If the public sees and hears enough, I hope they will make an effort and speak up to get what they want.  This is not what the FGC deserves, and it's not what Wizard deserves.  Speak up for the community you claim to love, speak up for what you feel is right, and do what you can to make it a better place.  That's all i ask from you guys.

As of now, the biggest slap in the face is having something succeed, and after #37Reloaded succeeded I feel some sense of satisfaction that our community is still strong and loves to play the games that helped our community grow.  I can also insert the fact that Wizard's involvement in this tournament was declined also due to the fact he thought it would not make money...... shocker right?  The majority of feedback was positive and the atmosphere at the event was amazing to say the least.  People were playing games all day on Saturday and this didn't stop till we kicked them out at midnight.  Also, if anyone ever complains that they can't run an event on time, or didn't have enough help, let me tell you this.  Our tournament was technically staffed by 5 people and a 2 helpers.  We had 2 guys holding down the stream, 2 dedicated bracket runners, and 2 people helping with brackets and locating players that didn't report to their stations, and myself who was taking care of all registrations and badges at the front along with anything else that needed help.  If you put your mind to it, you can do it, and if you are doing something you truly love and care about, it makes it that much easier.  This time around we were fortunate to make very minimal money on the event, but our point was to make this fun for everyone create a positive name for Super Arcade.  Hopefully we have achieved both and next time around we can worry about the financial side a bit more.  I would like to thank all the fans for making this event possible and also a huge shout out to everyone who helped us.  One person in the community that is well known and liked by all of us tournament organizers is a gentleman by the name of Aaron "Kapwan" Smith.  He has helped us at Super Arcade during our weeklies and also at most of the local majors that have taken place.  He is a die hard game fan and also one of the true bright spots in the community that works hard for all of you and helps everyone have a great tournament experience.  I would like to thank you personally Aaron for everything you have done for us and although the job is truly thankless, you sir deserved to be thanked more than anyone.  Thank you once again and see you soon buddy.

And on that note, this concludes another post, and although its not the wham, bam, thank you mam you have come to expect from me, it provides some history as to what went on and why Evo was transported to Vegas.  Money, money, money, money........  At least the event is amazing now and people have something to look forward to once a year as a fighting game fan, too bad it's involved with someone who could give 2 shits about the community and only cares about the mighty dollar.  Thanks again for reading and I'll be back again soon with more history and blowups.  Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and thanks for reading!