Friday, January 30, 2009

PlayCafe update

Hello PlayCafe players,

After producing 250 live game shows, we have decided to hold off on producing shows for now. We are thrilled with the enthusiasm of so many of you - the average PlayCafe user plays for 87 minutes/show and 40% of you have played every week! Unfortunately in these challenging times, it has been difficult to continue our growth.

We are exploring partnerships with companies that can use PlayCafe's technology and give our shows wider distribution. Companies that would be interested can contact Mark at

Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support and we hope to see you again soon!

Mark and Dev


  1. Awwww! I miss this game..

  2. you guys should try to work with
    your basically the same using trivia.
    chad and ian are playing there.

  3. It's over.

  4. That's what they've been saying since last Fall, nothing new. Here's an article Mark wrote that was published recently.

  5. Not surprised. My family (and extended families) used to play most every weekday evening. We all looked forward to it.

    But, after after a short while, they made clear their political preferences by insulting the opposing interests. Listening and watching their more-than-obvious facial expressions to their liberal (read: anti-conservative) stand eventually became too much. I'm sure they turned off MANY other participants as well.

    Not smart business to "pick a political side" with your viewers unless 1) you are confident that they share the same political views as you and/or 2) don't need those that may become offended.

    Were they really stupid enough to think all of their "customers" thought as they did??
    Apparently so.

    Did they learn a lesson?
    Doubtful - I'm sure they still don't get why such a great concept failed.

  6. There were plenty of liberals out there to make it a success. Mark and Dev know what the real problems were.

  7. greg,

    If the business model did NOT include attaining certain levels of viewership, there is definitely an "Eleventh" reason missing from the venturbeat article.

    Viewership will dictate the amount of revenues that could be generated from product advertising/endorsements.

    There are NUMEROUS other factors in the success or failure of ANY business, be it staffing, $$$, inventory, technology, and many many more.

    I was simply addressing one of those factors. Whether it was the primary factor is merely an opinion at this point.

    But, as a business person myself, I can tell you that you want to leverage EVERY factor possible to increase the odds of success.

    Picking and choosing factors is akin to putting your head in the sand.

    Any business that is intended to appeal to the public at large MUST practice a great deal of finesse when addressing the normally taboo subjects such as politics and religion in an attempt to capture as many viewers as possible.

    You can say there were "plenty of liberals out there to make it a success", but there obviously were NOT enough to help overcome the other issues, which it very well could have.

    Mark and Dev only know what they know. Conversely, you must factor that they don't know what they don't know.

    In this particular case, I can narrow down the cause to two critical success factors: 1) lack of planning and 2) business acumen.

  8. They had a constraint on political expression, but the kids couldn't help themselves sometimes. Being a flaming liberal would have been a net attractant. I can't argue otherwise when polls were running <20% pro. Leaving over rolled eyes at Bush couldn't have played into the final result. Other problems crushed that, no mystery with us regulars to what those were.

    The one thing I can't explain is why only 40 of the 1,000-person audience would come over and play in the final days. Why just watch?

  9. greg u obviously didnt watch the show. so zip it. People left because the cast left. had nothing to do with politics.

  10. Politics?!? What are you smoking man? I came to have fun, When everyone left and it became a webcam show it really killed it for me! Chad was good and everything, but the webcam thing was boring and I lost interest! I used to look forward to every week and when the switch happened I came and had fun, but it just wasn't the same. So the next weeks if I was to miss a show, I really didn't care because it just wasn't the same atmosphere. Playcafe was a blast in the past I guess!

  11. I said politics wasn't a factor, Mr. Zipit. "Other problems crushed that..." BTW, Katie sent her love to room 5 a few days ago.

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  13. They were pretty hands-on. They weren't always in the studio for the shows but those were a small part of the workday.

    It was more like $2500 a day, maybe less. You have to pay a pretty penny in the bay area for everything and they must have worked about as many days where there was no show as when there was a show, not to mention when they had a 2nd location in L.A. for however long that lease was. The math works.

    Server problems, game and prize structures were the main problems we saw as players. Structures could have been solved as the crowd grew. The tech still isn't there to solve the server problems.

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  15. I don't think anyone can argue against bad management since Mark goes on and on about their long list of goofs. You're just way off on a lot of the particulars. Dividing by 250 is the biggest one. They had maybe 5 full-timers who worked daily for, I dunno, I suppose a year and a half, then there was the on-air crew, the question writers and Chad.

    Remember when the bad tech problems came up? Promotion stopped, PCLA was cancelled, all that stuff. That's the big clue for what the real problem was. If they solved the tech probs, they coulda resumed building the user base and gone after money. (They did try to monetize earlier, but didn't have a lot of time for that from what Mark said.) They couldn't solve them. Ustream and stickam can't even solve them. Not figuring out tech was unsolvable much earlier was the biggest blunder. It was a dead end that stopped the venture in its tracks.

  16. I forgot to say that state of the art servers don't solve all the tech probs they had. I suspected one was that the software didn't scale well. Flickr had that problem with flickr chat in their early days. They finally junked it, but it was cool while it lasted, kinda like combining ichat with iphoto.

    But what was the deal with that one guy in the Chad days, "Daniella left so I'm going postal on the new host?!" Then he tried to argue that Chad should use his Password winnings (which he didn't have and wasn't guaranteed to get) on keeping the game afloat for a failed biz venture with no hope of getting the money back. yeeeeeee-eah. That was the only player who ever severely tested my fortitude to follow the rules.

    And here's a Daniella story. I won one of those cell phone t-shirt things and I mentioned to Daniella via playcafe chat after a show that I was gonna use it to send her a shirt that said 'Zip up, Pervs!' She said something like 'that's disgusting,' and thought I was a perv. I kept my distance from then on. I shoulda said, "What, you'd prefer that it say 'Zippers down, Pervs!'?" but I let her have her opinion. I ended up giving the code to ChicagoKelly.

  17. The number one reason the show was cancelled(chad even said this) was server issues. Every night there were dozens of people that just simply could not get on the site. I don't know if that was hackers, but many people would complain, and they seemed to ignore those people. Many times they would have to restart games right in the middle. The ken jennings show was the final straw with the server issues. The show had to be stopped early that night, due to hackers messing up the stream. However the night that the crew announced that they would be leaving shortly, the audience was still the normal amount for most nights. They did a poor job of attracting other playes to the site, but even at the end they had their core group of players. I swear even rivalries were growing between pcafe teams. It seemed like over time they would fix server issues, but i guess they had finally had enough, and maybe didnt want to pay the extra amount to prevent hackers better.

  18. and that 630k number is ridiculous, redo ur math. also that vacation story was hilarious, also doubt its true

  19. You need a bit of a sense of humor when reading my posts.

  20. Heh, Wow!! I didn't realize this was all still being discussed!
    Hey, Greg: sorry for misunderstanding you! That would have been a really cool Tshirt, I agree. I was kinda stressed out a little back in the day; doing 2 hour live shows a day left little recovery time for the old noggin. Not that I'm complaining!
    I sure do miss the days of Playcafe, and every last one of you players. You guys made my life a living heaven for over a year. Thank you.

  21. I guess we're both up late tonight. I came here on accident trying to go to and saw there was a 21st message.

    I don't know about the tee. It may have backfired. The misunderstanding was just an 'oh well' moment since you had to have your "radar" on high, so I just went with it. The Room 5'ers got a kick out of the story the next day. I only told it above cuz I was feeling nostalgic and I figured it would clue-in begd1 that I was Berol.

    Gonna be a year since the finale pretty soon.

  22. miss u too daniella, AND berol. this show was GREAT while it lasted, i have no bad memories, whatsoever.

  23. I keep coming here hoping that someone will take this idea and run with it. It was a blast while it was on the air (wire?). Anyway, miss ya all. HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Hope to see you all in 2010!

  24. 2010 i have a feeling it will be back, gotta keep the discussion alive

  25. I just want to say that this is the best Dundies ever! WOOOOOOOO!!!!

  26. looks like nothing new is going on, maybe they should pitch this idea in shark tank show and see if mr.wonderful or cuben would help it