Gaming the System
With his game-truck franchise, Scott Novis hopes to make it “game over” for the big boys in the industry.
Scott Novis was celebrating his son’s fourth birthday at a Tempe, AZ place known for its pizza and arcade games, when he felt he had entered a time warp. The video games were old and he didn’t understand why he was paying so much for a crowded venue where kids were fighting for joystick control and waiting in line for games to become available.
“I ran a game studio and I knew the games we were working on crushed anything that was in the pizza arcade,” Novis says. “I think I played some of these games when I was a kid and it was sad to me that video games had fallen so far.” Novis is no stranger to video games. He has over a decade’s experience developing games for Rainbow Studios, which is creator of some of the most popular titles in the PS2 era such as Deadly Tide, Motocross Madness and the ATV Offroad Fury franchise.
The birthday experience fueled a new idea: create a better arcade for home video games—the most popular offerings, the latest consoles, no lines—and bring the arcade to the party. “I wanted to create an ideal environment where there are no barriers to play, there’s always enough copies of the game, always enough controllers,” Novis says. “Technology started to change and suddenly there were high-power, ultra-quiet generators, the price on LED flat screen TVs dropped, so I built a prototype in my garage, invited people over to play, and I knew I had to build this for real.” The idea was designed to be scalable and operable by virtually anyone with a passion for video games and working with children.
In 2006, Novis’s dream became a reality with the formation of GameTruck, a mobile video game/media room concept that rolls out to parties, fairs or anywhere that people want to play video games.
At a GameTruck Party, a mobile trailer arrives on location and players have access to various Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox games. Also included is a Game Coach who facilitates game play and manages the participants during the party. Party costs, which run between $300-$500, vary by region.
Inside each GameTruck is a long leather couch that runs the length of the trailer and can accommodate around 16 children. Each participant has a game screen and accessories (such as guitars for Guitar Hero). The games are set to multi-player so all 16 guests can play together in the Game Truck at the same time.
Soon Novis decided to franchise the concept. “I wanted others to get into a business that they are excited and passionate about,” he says. “I believe we have a really solid system and I tell my franchisees that it depends on the choices you make as an owner. Our top operators are those who are passionate and understand the value of serving people.”
By 2010, GameTruck grew by more than 800 percent and expanded to most of the top markets across the United States. Last year, it ranked No. 218 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list, and was No. 7 on the Top New Franchise list. There are currently 85 GameTruck rigs on the road and plans to get above 100 are in the works.
New franchisees can get started in just under three months. The franchise fee is $12,500 and startup costs vary by location and type of equipment purchased. Novis estimates that the total initial investment runs between $125,000 to $200,000 and minimum liquid assets required is between $60,000 and $100,000. “This is a business, you’re not buying a toy,” Novis says. “We have a bunch of really awesome planning and management tools and proprietary technology to help run the business and things are growing every year.”
New to the company is a mobile laser-tag experience, that’s currently in ten markets and will be rolled out nationwide in the next year. Plans are also in the work for more sophisticated gaming that people can play as partners.
“Our need to play together is not going away,” Novis says. “There’s something about our reputation and brand that people want. Our real business is delivering excitement and I believe over the next five years you will see us become the company to deliver an exciting event at your home, school, church or business. We want to help people experience an exciting memory that they get to share with their friends.”
For more information, please visit www.gametruckpartyfranchise.com.