Yesterday's #RetroconPH event was held at The War Room, which is a unique little gaming space in the Greenhills area. The space was pretty big and featured nice big tables best suited for use for war games like Warhammer 40k. And while it's hard to play multiple tabletop RPGs since a single room, I still see how the space is great for the sort of epic scale-model gaming that thrills other hobbyists.
Over the course of our gaming life, we've gotten to play at a good number of different gaming shops that have cropped up around Metro Manila. It's certainly a positive trend and one that I hope continues on as the business model can be a little tricky to manage. After all, a good gaming cafe finds a way to balance long playing time with their own costs.
Some places like Puzzles charge a fixed gaming fee on top of food to sort of cover that. Other places like Ludo require customers to meet a spending threshold (typically one dish) per person to allow for unlimited playing. That still means there's a tricky balance for people who might play from the time the store opens to the time it closes, but such cases are a little extreme.
Not many shops have a strong retail side and largely they're restaurants with a gaming component added one. Some maintain modest sales inventory for retail but it's never quite a full focus. On the flip side you have places like some branches of Neutral Grounds or even the single-table setup of Fortress in Greenhills where they're retail spaces with some tables alloted for people to play games. I've yet to explore this in detail and I'm not sure if there are fees related to playing but it doesn't seem to be a source of revenue.
I think the space is still figuring out its ideal balance and we're going to see things continue to evolve as more people get into the hobby and as business owners better understand the limitations of this market and how much they can charge. And I do look forward to see how things will develop in the years to come.