For people born in the 1980s and 1990s, when PCs were still not widespread, internet bars must have become an indelible part of their memory when they grew up. However, with the rapid spread of PCs and development of the mobile internet, less and less people would go to internet bars anymore, and internet bars were closed one after another.
Yet, with the upgrade of people’s consumption habit, internet bars are gradually undergoing transformation, and turned into internet cafés, places for entertainment, social networking for young people. In TMTpost Photo Gallery 037, let’s focus our attention on these internet cafés, mostly owned by WYWK(Wang Yu Wang Ka).
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It was around the shopping centers of Beijing’s CBD. Most WYWK’s internet cafés are located in major shopping centers, office buildings as well as mid and high-end residential districts, where young people who could afford to go to internet cafés and are willing to do so frequent most. The first internet café, which espoused the philosophy of slowness in urban life, was born in China in 2009. Different from traditional internet bars, WYWK’s internet cafés began to provide young customers with coffee, milk tea and dessert to better meet their needs.
According to WYWK’s statistics, they’ve provided service for 15 million people as of 2014. At peak time, WYWK’s internet cafés provided service for 55,000 people per day. On average, over 265 customers become members of WYWK. “WYWK has already become a brand as well-known as Starbucks,” a customer said.
In 2012, WYWK opened a concept store of Internet Café 3.0 that is equipped with iMac, mechanical keyboards, headset, egg chair, separate coffee area, resting area, etc. Aware of the success of WYWK, other internet bar owners followed suit and all upgraded their computers, began to provide food and forbad customers to talk in hopes of being more competitive.
There are five areas in WYWK’s internet cafés: Card Area, Couple Area, Black Area, Fight Area as well as Theatre Area. The more the room is inside, the more expensive it is. In 2014, WYWK again upgraded its internet cafés to version 4.0, which features online social networking, multifunctioning play area, and new products. Every customer has a customized desktop on the PC, so that he or she can log in to their preferred desktop every time they go to the internet café.
With the rise of e-sports in China, an increasing number of e-sports players emerged, which also led to a new business model, the combination of internet cafés and e-sports. WYWK opened the first e-sports bar & internet café near Beijing Workers' Stadium. The bar has raised over 30 million RMB investment till now. “It feels better to play e-sports here compared at home,” a player told TMTpost.
An internet café & e-sports bar can accommodate over 300 to 500 people. E-sports contests are held every week, and press release conferences or other activities are also held during intervals. We also come to know that major game contests are held in large venues in Shanghai, and internet café & e-sports bars’ owners are desperate to find ways to make profit by holding large-scale game contests. Qiao Feng, COO of WYWK told TMTpost that the e-sports bar in the above picture opened in October, 2015, and they wished to find such a revenue model. He believed that competition would become fiercer and fiercer in the near future with the loosening of government control, and that internet cafés would continue to evolve and provide more services to adapt to the new development of e-sports and live video broadcasting in China.
A customer used WYWK’s own app to book a room in WYWK’s internet cafés. Users can use the app to easily book rooms, recharge online, pay bills online and get to know other game players, etc. In 2015, WYWK was the first one to come up with the concept Internet Plus Internet Café, and developed the first O2O interactive entertainment platform for game players.
As live video broadcasting is burgeoning in China, WYWK soon hired a video team, five professionals, and live video broadcast e-sports on major live video broadcasting platforms. As time goes by, e-sports begin to have a decisive role in the internet café industry. The diversity in e-sports filed directly leads to the thorough upgrade of the internet café industry, which will ultimately lead to the diversity of internet café industry.
“The attendance of our internet cafés is 60 per cent on average, and daily revenue from our food service is around 2,000 RMB per day,” Mr. Qiao introduced, “For us, internet cafés are more like a space for multiple players to play together. As long as it’s a multiple-player game, we can attract game players to play in our internet cafés. At the same time, we are also actively looking for other new models, such as VR games. However, e-sports bars and internet cafés are still different. While the former’s revenue mainly comes from internet fee and food service, the latter relied more on e-sports service, but is still a combination of e-sports bars and internet cafés.”
Besides, with the rise of mobile games, WYWK also sets up a mobile game area for game players, and provides free WiFi, electrical sockets and chargers. Generally, mobile games should have been competitors for internet cafés. WYWK, however, makes mobile games part of its service and provides free area for mobile game players.
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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Zhu Lingyu, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.