Is Internet Cafe Software Dead?

Is Internet Cafe Software Dead?

The question here is about Internet cafe software aka Cyber Cafe Software.  The industry has been active since around 1999 but seems to be going through hard times in the past few years.  The top players have changed but a few have remained consistent.  Antamedia, CyberCafePro, and HandyCafe have been around through the industries highs and lows.

So... Is Cyber Cafe Software Dead?

I was checking out the Internet cafe software category on Google when I came across an article that is suddenly ranking in the top 5 results called 5 best Internet cafe software for Windows 10 to use in 2018 .  It caught my eye because as someone who knows most of the major players in the industry... I couldn't recall more than a few softwares that are actually built for Windows 10.

The article  5 best Internet cafe software for Windows 10 to use in 2018 is obviously built for clicks and not accuracy.

  1.  Clicking on the top ranked software Antamedia takes you directly to an affiliate account.  It is hard to be objective when the recommended software makes the author money.
  2.  CyberCafePro is not Windows 10 approved.  It was written for Windows 7 and patched for Windows 8.   Also the list of features listed for  CyberCafePro is from an old version.  Example: CyberCafePro no longer offers online reporting 24/7.  That was gone years ago.
  3.  HandyCafe is not Windows 10 supported or anything else supported.  I personally tried to install on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 to failure.  HandyCafe is a dead product for new users.  It is obvious the author did not test the products before ranking them.

I could go on but the purpose of this article is not to dissect another person's article.  The purpose is to look if the internet cafe software industry is dead or hanging on?

The Shrinking Internet Cafe Software Industry

The traditional cyber cafe is on it's way out.  It is hard to deny that.

I have personally spoke with hundreds of cafe owners recently who say they are just hanging on because of mobile phones and easy access to internet.  Many more have gone out of business.  The owners who are able are switching to eSports and game centers instead of typical cyber cafes.

Mobile Devices

Smart phones have killed the Internet cafe software industry.  There is no real demand because so many more people now have mobile phones than they did in the past.  Why would someone go to an internet cafe when it is far easier to check an email app on your phone.

Through speaking with several African owners of cyber cafes, I learned that through governments programs it has become very inexpensive to own mobile devices.  This has all but eliminated the traditional cyber cafe in many African countries.

Security & Trust in Internet Cafes

Information is very valuable in today's world.  It can be bought and sold like any other commodity.  This is why people don't trust internet cafe for doing anything sensitive such as banking and checking emails.

Any computer can be hacked and monitored by outside sources.  It is hard for the public to trust a cafe owner who they personally don't know after reading how easily information can be stolen.  Unfortunately it is not usually the owner who cannot be trusted... it is the customer.  Using the best internet cafe timer can be useless if it does not keep it's security updated.   Customers often try to infect computers or use key loggers.

eSports Centers

This is the evolution of the internet cafe.  With nobody really seeking cafes out for email or business like they used to, it has become more important for cafe owners to figure out how to stay in business.  eSports is the answer.  eSports is a massive industry and some of the internet cafe timer software have started to morph into eSports Center Management Software.

This has also contributed to the disappearance of the internet cafe but has brought life to a new industry.

Internet Cafe Software Brands

Let me go through what I know about the industry.  I have been a part of this industy since the year 2000.  Along with 2 very talented developers, I helped mold one of the most used internet cafe software ever used... CyberCafePro.

The article quoted above is obviously just designed to get you there and click while offering no real world experience.  That is fine.  I won't be doing that.  Here is some actual thoughts and insights I can offer from testing and experience.

ggLeap

ggLeap is easily the most impressive management system I have tested in a very long time.  As the former owner of an internet cafe software company it is safe to say I have tested every internet cafe timer software that is worth using on the market.

ggleap game center management software

The user experience on ggLeap is modern and effective.  The interface literally made me say "Wow!" when I fist saw it. In an industry which is often guilty of "putting lipstick on a pig" or praying the out of date platform will work with the next Windows Operating system,  ggLeap is a modern eSports center management software which is refreshing, visually impressive and works with Windows 10.

ggLeap has a larger focus on being a eSports Center Management Software but ggLeap suite is a management software tool for esports arenas, LAN centers & cyber cafes.  Why is this important?  This is where the industry has evolved to.  Internet cafes are no longer prevalent like they used to be.  This is the software to use if an owner of a cafe wants to make the transition from internet cafe to game center.

I have personally spoke with hundreds of cafe owners recently who say they are just hanging on because of mobile phones and easy access to internet.  Many more have gone out of business.  The owners who are able are switching to eSports and game centers instead of typical cyber cafes.

I have been following Zack and his team on social media and it is a positive to see updates and the product moving forward.  The biggest knock I have on many software product is the lack of development and support.  ggLeap is in full development which cannot be said for most products on in the industry.

Full List of ggLeap features

I found this 1 hour ggLeap walk-through if you want to get a full look at what they do.

Antamedia

Antamedia cafe software is the best pure Internet cafe software on the market.  It is not a free software but is worth the investment.

It has all the traditional features which a cafe needs and most importantly they update and support their programs.  Other internet cafe management software applications have the same features as the core Antamedia product, but the value comes in knowing they are still around to help and update if problems occur.  Sadly most developers in the industry are not now.

Not only is Antamedia the best internet cafe timer, it also branches off into other revenue streams for the cafe, hotel, or kiosk owner.  Antamedia has solutions such as HotSpot billing, customer surveys, and WiFi Ads which can add a valuable revenue stream to any struggling cafe.

Antamedia Internet cafe software

Why are Additional Revenue Streams Important?

I get asked why I think it is valauble to expand a cafe all the time.  The answer is that internet cafes as the world knows them are dead in many parts of the world and on life-support in most other countries.  For example, adding WiFi features can add a revenue stream for cafes in countries with high data rates.

CyberCafePro

CyberCafePro gets third on my list because it is perfect for a cafe on a budget.  CyberCafePro is easily the leading free internet cafe software timer on the market.  Most of CyberCafePro's competition in the free cyber cafe management software category have not survived.  HandyCafe cannot be installed as the execuable doesn't work.  I have enquired several times but have never received a response from HandyCafe Support.

Internet Cafe Software by CyberCafePro

CyberCafePro offers many features for the traditional cyber cafe but the gaming center features are out dated.   If you are looking to manage a few computer without investing money then CyberCafePro is an excellent way to go.  If you are looking to start a gaming center and already use CyberCafePro you may want to check out Smartlaunch for an easy transition.   Smartlaunch and CyberCafePro have a past together and therefore make it easier to switch using their support and converter.

CyberCafePro Features

  1. Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 (32 & 64-bit) Compatible. Works with Windows 10.
  2. Multi-Lanaguage Capability
  3. Client Application Launch Pad
  4. Auto-Connect of Clients to Server (Working LAN Required)
  5. Employee Control Features such as Employee Tracking (Anti-Theft), Employee Templates (Manager, Part-Time etc.), Employee Point-by-Point Permissions & Cloning
  6. Functioning Employee Time Clock
  7. Accounts & Timecodes with Full Customer Information Profiles (Accounts Only)
  8. Manual Timers (Xbox, Pool Tables, Laptops)
  9. Full-Featured Point-of-Sale (320 Buttons) compatible with Touch screens
  10. Tax Settings (Up to 3 different taxes)
  11. Local Currency (Any Windows Currency Symbol)
  12. Inventory System
  13. Customer Order System
  14. Table Tabs (Non-Computer Table Billing)
  15. Printer Monitoring - This feature doesn't work very well.  Use Antamedia if you want this as a business feature.
  16. Automatic Database Backups
  17. Barcode Scanner Configurations

Check out the full list of CyberCafePro Features

Smartlaunch

Smartlaunch is more of a hybrid Game Center management tool and internet cafe software.  Smartlaunch has been around the ICS market since the start.  I call them a hybrid because they are a complete cafe management software which has morphed itself into a game center management software using their large customer base.

Smartlaunch Internet cafe software

Smartlaunch has every feature needed to run a traditional cafe while adding Game Center Management and tournament tracking.  I can't say Smartlaunch is as in-depth in the Gaming interface as ggLeap but it is a very good option if you are transitioning from CyberCafePro free Internet cafe software.  Smartlaunch will allow you to move your database from CCP to SL to retain your database.

  1. Setup, monitor, manage and control your eSports Center with an advanced software & data management platform.
  2. Install 1 terabyte of the eSports world’s top games onto hundreds of computers in a breeze.
  3. Connect to the largest network of eSports centers in the world. Benchmark your business.

Support used to be an issue with Smartlaunch but in recent years Smartlaunch has added Vinay Java to help with the eSports center support.  I can honestly say the support has improved from the past.

Gizmo

Gizmo is a Point-Of-Sale and PC management software for shared/public access computer providers such as gaming centers, eSports arenas, libraries, hotels, Internet cafés etc.

With Gizmo POS/PC Management Suite, you can lower and simplify your operating costs, with an easy to use (and train) interface for your employees.

Gizmo is a more cost-effective but still powerful system for the modern Internet cafe. It does not have the gaming features and wow factor of ggLeap and Smartlaunch but it will get the job done for the more cost conscience owner. They appear to have an active support department who is ready to help out if you get in trouble.

My Do Not Recommend List

I will not provide a link to any of these internet cafe software applications as I believe they lurk around the internet and provide little to no value.  By linking to them I would be giving them credibility when they actually make it harder for current users to find a good modern solution.

HandyCafe

HandyCafe cannot be installed and I have not been able to get an answer from support.  This software is dead in my books.  This used to be a top free option.

January 23, 2018 - I tested the download again and it still does not work.  Install goes fully then errors out when trying to load the application.  Shown below is the second of 2 errors.

cyber cafe software

TrueCafe

TrueCafe used to be a dependable player in the industry.  With no significant updates in years and  only supporting Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows 2003/2008 Server, Windows Vista,32 and 64-bit versions, I cannot recommend touching this software.  Software has to stay current with current operating systems to be effective.  There is simply better paid options out there.

The most current release was in mid 2016 and only included Wi-Fi billing for Windows 10.  No improvements to the core program seems evident since late 2014.

The Evolution of the Internet cafe software Industry

League of Legends, Rito Games/Flickr Credit: League of Legends, Rito Games/Flickr

eSports is a huge deal!  eSports is competitive gaming where eSports athletes play each other while tons of adoring fans watch them play.

Who would sit and watch other people play competitive gaming? 226 million people that's who!  Yes, in 2015 it is estimated that the global eSports audience was around 226 million people.

In 2016 it is a fact that more people tuned into the finals of the 2015 Worlds for eSports than tuned into the NBA (National Basketball Assocation in the USA) Finals... and the NBA finals had their highest viewership in 18 years of 31 million people.  Crazy!

Is eSports Really a Sport?

The US Government does see eSports athletes as pro sports athlete for granting visas for international play.  This means that the athletes can travel just the same as any other professional athlete in any other sport.

The BBC has quoted ESPN  president John Skipper saying “[esports] is not a sport,” he said, “it's a competition.

Canada's Sport Network TSN covers eSports like it is a real sport.  It has frequent updates on Canada's progress in the tournaments, as well as eSports news from around the world.  eSports is sure starting to sound like a legit "sport" to me.  The athletes are not always in the best of shape but they are gifted at what they do.

Dollars and Cents

Since there is such a huge viewership, of course money is going to be involved.  This isn't chump change either.

What would you say if I told you the approx.  million dollars has been paid out in eSports tournaments?

You would say "You are wrong!" and you would be correct.   million dollars has been paid out in tournament play but that is only for players of DOTA 2!   These numbers are from a single game title over 654 tournaments played by professional players since 2011.    I know it sounds unbelievable but check out the numbers here.

The 5 highest paying game titles are:

  1. DOTA 2
  2. Leaque of Legends
  3. Counter-Strike: GO
  4. Starcraft II
  5. Counter-Strike

eSports and Internet Cafe Software

PC Gaming has always been huge in Internet cafes and lan centers around the world.  Some cyber cafe and internet cafe software packages have built in key managers for games and some have begun to take eSports and LAN centers even further.  The 5 games listed above have been staples in lan centers for over 5 years now.

I remember first starting with CyberCafePro and hearing about the huge hit Counter-Strike.  That was in the year 2000!

Paid public access computer usage is down since 2008 due to the easy abundance of home computers and hand held mobile devices.  The industry has taken a huge hit which is evident by the folding of many Internet cafe software brands and local shops.  While some brands and shops folded, others are adjusting to add eSports to their platform.

Conclusion

This article will be on-going as I reach out to more developers, go through my reviews and as time goes on.  As of today the industry is not  close to dead, but is simply evolving.  There is still a few great options for the traditional internet cafe and a few emerging options for cafes that want to transition into Game Center Management software.

Game Center Management software is the simplest way for a cyber cafe owner to move forward and merge into a huge industry.   Software like ggLeap and Smartlaunch will make the transition easier.  I highly suggest to contact both support departments and share your experience in the comments.

Don't be fooled... there is a ton of out-dated garbage out there.  I will add them to this article whenever I find them and encourage every cafe owner to comment below what your current experience is. Don't give up on the internet cafe software and game center management applications that continue to develop and expand the industry.  This type of business is still viable as long as you are willing to adapt to the always changing landscape.

Kevin Klimack WInnipeg Manitoba
Kevin Klimack
Do you have a question about CyberCafePro or anything internet cafe software? Use #cybercafepro on Twitter and I will answer as soon as I can!
I worked in the Cyber Cafe and Gaming Center Industry for 15+ years. In 2017 I sold CyberCafePro to a Gaming Center Management company. I can say there is nobody in the world who has my experience in Internet cafe software.