Music City Mall has undergone heavy changes over the past year, which has included bringing in several new outlets and shops. One of these additions is Game Time, a pay-to-play open arcade with the goal to give gamers the ability to jump onto the latest gaming technology.
Game Time offers an array of platforms and devices. It features mounted computers with some of the most powerful gear on the market, including everal Xbox Xs and Ss, a Nintendo Switch and several Playstation 4 Pros. The back wall of custom gaming PCs feature water-cooled, solid-state drives and the strongest video cards on the market. There is also a retrostation with older games such as Pac-Man and Street Fighter.
The shop though is still not complete. Owner and founder Flash Masterson said several additions have been made since opening in March, with more on the horizon. They are in the process of ordering more equipment, such as another Nintendo Switch to keep up with the demand for Mario Kart. Oculus Rift virtual reality will also be introduced shortly.
In addition to improvements to continued improvements to the first store, there are already plans to expand. Masterson said he recently signed a lease with Town East Mall in Mesquite for a 5,000 square-foot space. He is also in talks with Denton’s Golden Triangle Mall and Grapevine Mills Mall, which he is currently on the waiting list for. He also signed his LLC documents for Game Time Entertainment and has plans to turn the store into the first of a franchise.
Masterson said he has always been good at business. When he came up with the idea, he received a lot of doubt from those around him, including from his son. But after spending what he called 40 days and 40 nights setting up the shop, it was open for business and thriving almost instantly.
“Nobody really saw the vision until it was here,” he said.
Masterson set up the shop by himself, purchasing all the hardware, building the computers and mounting the devices. He estimated he has about $105,000 invested into the store. Masterson said it takes several streams of revenue to keep the business model going. Renting play-time at the arcade, which costs $6 for an hour or $4 for half-an-hour, but Game Time also hosts birthday parties and overnight gaming and tournaments. They also host a computer repair service, which Masterson said will ultimately be incorporated into another store in the mall, which he hopes will also be one of the first cryptocurrency retail stores in the country.
Masterson said while there are other stores opening up similar services to his, those stores tend to specialize in one aspect of the service, such as hosting only Xboxes or only gaming PCs. Masterson said his goal was to be able to offer customers a wide-range of gaming platforms. He added large corporations that host arcade-type services do not offer the totality of Game Time and they are not able to adapt to what customers want as quickly as a business like Game Time, so he feels confident in the store’s ability to compete.
With the rise of eSports, Masterson stressed what the future of gaming may look like, regarding the competition that is taking place. He said he wanted to be at the forefront of this evolution, as he has observed several schools and cities creating their own eSports leagues. The eSports industry is estimated to hit $905 million in revenue this year according to Forbes, a growth of 38 percent from 2017. It is also projected the industry will hit the $1 billion mark in 2019. This has been due to several revenue streams, such as sponsorships, tickets and merchandise, and advertising.
“eSports is huge,” he said. “People think video games are just video games, but it’s a competitive sport and they get real serious. And they’ll spend money on their gear like a football player will. They’ll pay [for new equipment] because the faster their stuff is the more of an advantage they have.”
The eSport of the moment is Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-for-all shooter game that puts players on an island with constantly shrinking borders, forcing them ever closer together. The game has become a cultural phenomenon, with and is estimated to have earned more than $1 billion in microtransactions, despite being free to play. Its market dominance is apparent at Game Time — at any given moment, almost every screen in the space will be dedicated to the game.
Though Fortnite is head-and-shoulders above other games right now, Masterson said Game Time offers any game someone would want to play. If someone comes in and wants to play a game not currently at Game Time, Masterson said they will buy the game and install it on the system. The person would not be charged for the waiting time.
Masterson grew up in poverty in California, leaving home and making his own way at age 16. He moved to Texas three years ago, saying he could not get here fast enough. He lauded Texas for their pro-business approach and described California as having “too many hands in the cookie jar.”
“I grew up poor and a lot of people don’t know that,” he said. “I had holes in my shoes.”
Game Time is far from his only current business venture — and far from his only venture in Music City mall. On top of Game Time, he is opening up a credit repair service and a vehicle-renting service in Music City Mall. He also wants to expand and contribute to the food court in the mall.
He said a large part of his goal is to give back. He spoke highly of the Lewisville community and has taken steps to help out. He’s done this through offering mothers a place for their children to go after school for free, as long as a chaperone attends with them. He also offers discounts to all first responders and military veterans, active and retired. On top of this, Masterson said they are not a charity, but he has no problem cutting people slack on the price.
“I’m able to say, ‘hey you’re having a good time, let me give you another hour,’” he said. “Or you want to come in and have a birthday party but can’t afford it, I’ll give you half-off.”
Speaking on past failures, Masterson said he had opened up an electronic store in Collin Creek Mall that resulted in a $40,000 loss. The store, like Game Time, featured high tech computers for gaming, but was mostly dedicated to retail. Masterson said he learned a lot from the experience, such as lease negotiations. But above all else he said he realized it’s a fruitless effort to pursue retail, as online companies have cornered that market in terms of cost and convenience. It was after this he decided to pursue service.
“My goal is to make you happy,” he said. “And people have forgotten this in business because they’re looking for the fast buck and not the long game, or they just don’t want to take care of people.”
With the new services he is opening, such as the credit repair service or computer repair, Masterson continuously stressed the main goal of making people happy and keeping them coming back as loyal customers.
“We’re here and we’re going at 100 percent,” Masterson said. “Come in and give us a try.”
Game Time regularly hosts tournaments and events, including overnight lock-ins. The next one is scheduled for Aug. 11. To keep up with the store’s events, follow it on Facebook.