I traveled to Evansville, Indiana to speak with Drew Heckert about his eBash Video Gaming Center franchise store. I have visited the Evansville eBash center on several occasions and on each visit there is always something new. Drew was more than happy to share some information about his experiences as the first franchise in eBash history — check it out.
eBash Evansville is eBash’s first official franchise location. Locally Owned and operated by Drew Heckert, USI Alumni, through Eden Games Inc. On Dec 6th 2008 eBash Evansville opened its doors to the public. This store features 40 XBOX 360s, 2 Nintendo Wiis, 2 Playstation 3s, and 30 state of the art PCs. Being the first franchise isn’t the only first for this eBash. All machines are wired to each station from the front of the store and it showcases eBash’s first tournament arena!
Evansville, Indiana is a highly populated (roughly 350,000 people) area located on the southern tip of Indiana. The Evansville eBash is situated in one of the busiest business sectors on the east side of the city. The store is located on Burkhardt Road, a highly traveled street for many of the city’s shoppers. It is conveniently situated between a Best Buy electronics store and several major shopping stores (Sam’s Club & Walmart). The major interstate US 64 is located less than 2 miles from the store and provides easy access for a number of traveling shoppers. The current location has been a contributing factor to the franchise stores booming success for its first year of business.
The Evansville eBash has really changed the model for retail infused with game center play. The store is just shy of 5,000 sq. ft, sitting comfortably at 4,600 total square feet. From an outside appearance the size of the store seems small, however appearances can be deceptive. Upon entering the door, you will immediately notice just how long the store is, giving credibility to the 4,600 sq. ft space. The majority of the Xbox 360 and PS3 retail section is located in the front, left half of the building while the Nintendo Wii section is located in the front, right portion of the building. The recently redesigned retail layout, unintentionally fit well with the building’s layout. The Xbox 360 and PS3 area initially began as a room designated for birthday parties.
The console stations are located behind the counter and run via HDMI and USB to all of the LCD TV monitors and controllers around the store. To my knowledge the Evansville store is the first of it’s kind with consoles run via HDMI and USB to the station. It prolongs each consoles longevity by creating less interaction with users. In total there are:
- Xbox 360: 40
- Gaming PC: 32
- Nintendo Wii: 2
- Playstation 3: 1
The store also features two very nice raised stages, one quite a bit smaller than the other, in different areas. The smaller stage features stations for customers that do not mind being out for everyone to see. The larger stage features roughly 10 stations with a huge mural of Master Chief and eBash (in Graffiti) sitting overhead. It adds quite a bit of flavor to the center’s gaming layout.
One of the standout features of the center are the many murals spread across the center. There are characters from a number of titles ranging from Mario to Kingdom Hearts and adds a certain level of fun to the atmosphere. The only major flaw to the store’s design is the flooring which needs a major overhaul at some point in time. The gaming area needs to be carpeted or tiled (preferably carpeted). Currently the floor has a glossy, beige floor paint that is peeling because of repeated wear and tear from gaming chairs.
Under the Hood
The Evansville eBash has one of the best internet connections possible. Their provider, WOW!, supplies them with a Fiber line capable of 1GB of data transfer, however Drew has limited the speed to 10MB download and 10MB upload. I have experienced very little latency issues while playing at the center, in stark contrast to the inconsistencies experienced at the Terre Haute eBash. During busier hours, the connection remains very consistent and is a huge plus for the store’s bragging rights.
The gaming equipment is all very suitable for both hardcore players and the more casual, younger crowd. Many of the controllers were comfortable for gaming with only a few that felt as if they needed to be replaced. Nearly all of the Xbox 360 consoles are played on Samsung T240 24in monitors, the very same TV Monitor I used for practice during the 2009 Major League Gaming Pro Circuit. There are also Vizio VO320 32in LCD TV’s located in the front of the store and in a few other areas for the more casual gamer. There are Tritton Headsets available upon request for players using certain type of monitors.
On the PC side, each computer is mounted to the wall with a Saitek Eclipse keyboard, Logitech MX518 mouse, and Fatality Creative headphones. I am not a fan of the headphones, but the mouse and keyboard are one of my favorites. Lastly, each of the rooms are identified using the same themed, color system as the Terre Haute eBash with lighting and murals that link a color to the room.
The Evansville eBash represents a perfect blend of retail and in-store gaming to create an awesome atmosphere for its customers. The addition of retail to the Evansville franchise really sets it apart from other LAN center’s I have visited in the past. Customers can genuinely understand the retail portion of the business in Evansville when compared to the Terre Haute counterpart which heavily emphasizes game time. When I walk into the Evansville store everything just “makes sense,” and it provides a glimpse at how game retailers and LAN centers need to merge models for the future.
The Evansville eBash is also a member of ggCircuit. ggCircuit provides an outlet for competition and events between various game centers around the nation. Drew’s early adoption to the ggCircuit community also adds additional value to his customer base. He also creates custom decal controllers which cater towards the competitive and hardcore crowd. If anyone is interested in custom decals please post to the Evansville Facebook Page.
End of the Day
The Evansville eBash has the potential to put up huge revenue numbers based on city’s market. The location of the business is ideal and the merge of retail and game time make it a great recreation for gamers. The store needs to complete the in-store design, particularly the flooring, to create a better visual appeal to customers. I highly recommend this center to anyone in the Evansville area and to any gamers traveling to that area. I expect to see another eBash on the west side of Evansville relatively soon — it’s that good!
Watch the Interview
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- The MAME 2.0 Project at eBash
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