An interview at Checkpoint Konzol
The subject of my interview is the splendid duo of friends, who only like to refer to themselves as Pisti and Tomi. They run a certain business that fascinated me since its humble beginnings, and certainly influenced me over my teenage years. I would buy or rent their products, enjoy them to the fullest extent at weekends and when my time allowed, proudly lined them up on my shelf when I was finished with them, and was happy with my ever growing experience and collection. They were not books, though, but the modern equivalent, video games. So let us see what made and still makes this small shop at Üllői Avenue 218/7 so special, by interviewing half the CEO population, Pisti.
So, Pisti, to start off with the more simple questions, when did you guys open shop?
We are close to our tenth anniversary, actually. It was in 2004, sometime in May.
And out of all the possible options, how did you decide to open a video game shop?
It just happened because it was very convenient. Me and Tamás, we were all over video games back then, and we thought we would give it a bash. To earn a living and build future with something we both tremendously enjoyed.
What games, accessories and services do you exactly provide?
Oh, everything, really! *laughs* You can buy new games, used games and all sorts of accessories here, for all recent consoles. You can also rent them in the sense that you buy a game, play it through, and then we part-exchange it for something else for a little bit of money. You can order just about anything, we get hold of it in a couple of days. If you want an Atari 2600 from 1980, or a professional racing wheel released yesterday in Germany, no problem. We also provide console maintenance and repair services.
It is all very nice, but everything here is „console”. Why aren’t you into PC?
We did PC initially, but we quickly found that for one, the industry is so quickly changing in every way that it is just very hard to keep up. Then there are games which require a code to play and which therefore we cannot resell. It just was not convenient or profitable enough.
How did you gain popularity and what is your popularity like today?
To be honest with you, the first one and a half years were crap. We barely broke even. Then we decided to spend some money on advertising. We printed a shitload of flyers. We gave them to kids, told them to stick as many of them as they can into the mailboxes of the nearby tower blocks, and in exchange we would give them discounts on games they wanted. We also advertised in the Kódmester magazine, which was very popular back then. After the initial struggle, though, word of mouth took over, and we started to get more and more customer without much further advertising. And yeah, right now we are very popular!
What do you think is the key to your success?
Now that is a complex question…I would say that it is most of all, the attitude. If you go to any big gamer shop, like 576 Kbyte, for example, and ask about a game, they might not know anything about it. We do. Furthermore, we can help you set up a gaming system you bought, help you with a game if you are stuck, we are honest, friendly and open with our customers. I think that this is a unique trait that is not much present elsewhere in the business, and people really seem to appreciate it. There are some other factors too, like how we try to keep our prices very competitive, or how our service is reliable and quick, but most of all it is this certain openness to people.
The interior with the ever so friendly Pisti
As veterans of the industry, what do you see in the future of video gaming?
The first thing that springs into mind is the stagnation of graphical improvement. It was so rapid in the past and now it is generally coming to a halt in the console world. What else…new modes of physical interaction are getting popular lately, movement detection and voice activation, getting more senses involved in the experience is a trend which I don’t see stopping anytime soon. On the bleaker side digital downloads are coming in. Excluding the physical disc from the equation saves money and effort, and now you can buy all the major releases online, in a digital form. Now it is currently more expensive, or just as expensive as the physical copy, but if this trend spreads further, or triumphs completely even, then we might be screwed.
It is the first rule of organised crime lords not to get addicted to their own product. Just how hardcore gamers are you?
We used to be much bigger gamers in the opening years, honestly speaking, but gaming is of course still present in our lives. Most of all we like to play multiplayer games with each other online after working hours. We mostly play Call of Duty games and cap each other’s ass in teams. But individually speaking, we also play and beat titles that interest us. I can’t wait for somebody to bring back a copy of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, so I can finally play it myself!
If you could design a game yourself, your dream game, what would it be about?
Well, since we are huge fans of the first person shooter genre, it would definitely be an FPS. Preferably set during the Second World War, on massive, accurate maps, with loads of customisable weapons, vehicles, kill streaks, and several dozens of player slots. A definitive WW2 multiplayer shooter, if you like.
Can you recall what was the strangest or rarest item you ever sold?
Hmmm…I cannot recall anything exact right now. There was a Fanatec wheel set once, very rare in Hungary, worth several hundreds of thousands, then there were various limited edition games which came into Hungary in very limited numbers but we always had them. Call of Duty games with aerial reconnaissance drones and night vision goggles were the most memorable for me.
Thank you for your cooperation. I’ll be sure to manipulate your voice and hack into several highly classified databases of the U.S. Government with it.
Just don’t forget to share your findings with me! I am most keen to learn about Area 51 and the Roswell incident!
by Matuz Bence