Friday, January 25, 2013

Starting an Arcade Venture Conclusion (for now)...

Some of the readers here probably have read a post or two about my up and down trials with starting an arcade. In this post I not only discuss my decision, but I have some great quotes and advice from Adam Pratt over at Arcade Heroes for anyone else who is interested in starting an arcade.

If you are new, here are some links to my previous posts:

1.) So, You Want to Start an Arcade?

2.) Zoning, Zoning, ZONING!

3.) Residential Vs. Commercial Mortgages

4.) Leasing Vs. Buying a Building

5.) Starting an Arcade in the Current Economic Climate

6.) Homebase for an Arcade???

7.) Location, Location, Location!

8.) My Arcade Decision

My last post from over a year ago was about choosing a residence in a rural location that has no zoning laws. I am in a residence in a rural area and am currently in the process of turning my basement into a small basement arcade. I decided to go with a basement arcade that is set up for hosting my own parties/events and possibly accept donations for maintenance. My previous post here covers most of the reasons for going with a basement arcade for the time being. I love the social aspect of arcade gaming and decided that the best way for me to get this would be to set up a basement arcade. I have learned a lot of information about starting an arcade and do plan on using it someday in the future. For the meantime, here are some golden nuggets that I have picked up through an e-mail conversation back in 2010 with Adam Pratt who owns and operates The Game Grid Arcade in West Valley City, Utah. Adam also is the owner of Arcade Heroes, the premier blog for arcade game news and updates.


On the topic of owning versus renting property, Adam brought up some very important points. One point he brought up was that leasing offers a great opportunit to get out of a business as clean as possible. If your business does not work out you are only tied to the property for the length of the lease. However, if you own the property you could be making mortgage payments for a long time if your business has gone under. With the current economy, selling the property could take a long time. Another point Adam brought up was about having a lease that allows one to back out easily. Adam also mentioned that before any decision it is important to check out the property market in the area you plan to open your arcade. This will help guide you in your decision to buy or lease.


Another golden nugget from Adam has to deal with the type of games to fill your arcade. Adam told me that he has seen a lot of people "interested in opening arcades think that it's a good safe bet to fill your place up with classic games". He went on to tell me that based on his own personal experience, classic games bring in only a couple of bucks a week. Adam continued to tell me that "for any standalone arcade I would say they have to have as many recent titles as possible, including ones that have a fanbase behind them." I know this to be true just based on other conversations with arcade operators I have had. You need an experience a gamer can not get at home. Adam mentioned how he has set up an Achievement System that has helped increase popularity with his classic games. Even still, this is not a guarantee to success.


So, what games do you think will bring in money? How about fighting games? Adam says that while newer fighting games can draw a crowd, "the real problem with fighting games are the home ports. It seems that every single fighter has to be ported to home consoles and that's no way to guarantee good long-term business in the arcade ". We all know how quick Capcom and Namco have ported their fighting games recently (6 months to a year).


So, what new games besides redemption games will bring the people? Well according to Adam, racing and light-gun games are the "bread and butter" of the industry. Adam went on to mention how he'd love to see an original game come along and make waves. For now though it seems that wherever you go, people are playing racing and light-gun games.


That's where I am with my own arcade business. I have gone from researching zoning laws and finding loopholes in the area I originally wanted to open an arcade, to having an offer accepted on a perfect building for an arcade, to the city trashing that dream with some more zoning laws. This pushed me out to a rural area. I am now working on turning my basement into my own personal arcade for hosting parties and events. This will suffice for now......


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