Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Happened to American Arcades?

A few days ago Kyle Orland posted an article over on Ars Technica, called, "What ever happened to the American Arcade?" In the article he spoke with Brad Crawford who is in the middle of producing the documentary film, 100 Yen. They speak a lot about how Japanese arcades are and compare them to American arcades today. Adam over at Arcade Heroes also put his own two cents in about the article. Here's a link to both of them, I'll follow up with my thoughts.

What ever happened to the American Arcade?  The original article.

What's happening with American Arcades-My Thoughts Adam from Arcade Heroes thoughts

Since we've been doing Arcade Hunters I've noticed a lot of changes with the way places have been run, what games they offer and just how things used to be. For me it used to be if you wanted to see the latest and greatest games, you got up off yer' ass and went to the arcade. Now that home consoles have surpassed what most arcade games can do, game makers pretty much got out of the industry or offer totally different games. The biggest problem I feel is that most of the newer games are what I like to call "experience" games. Stuff like racing games and light gun games with giant screens and surround sound speakers and others that wouldn't fit into an normal home. Arcade games now seem to want to be larger then life and to be able to give you something that you can't do on a home console.

The problem is a lot of smaller run places don't have the money for bigger games and if they do they'll be putting their money into new redemption games. Redemption games are pretty much where it's at now. Even at the mighty FunSpot, redemption games are starting to fully take over the lower two levels and even starting to creep in more and more to the third floor that's not part of the ACAM center. It's sad but it's true. Talking with the manager Gary he's told me that if certain games go down on the second floor that they could loose a good amount of the day's business. Every arcade I've been too or have visited forums on have people complaining why certain games don't work. It sucks and I've seen it happen, but Gary said it the best. "Do you fix a game that might make five or six tokens a day? Or do you fix the one people are pumping five to six tokens into every minute?"

With the skyrocketing costs of electricity, rent, taxes and other things you need to keep a business afloat you can't do an arcade on coin drop anymore. I still remember when my mother would complain about the games going up to 50 cents (This was back during the early 80's with stuff like the cockpit Star Wars and Dragon's Lair) and now most places are charging more then a dollar for some games. That's not to say you still can't do it but a lot of places have a way to get around problems. With FunSpot they've been family owned and operated for over 50 years. They own the land so they don't have to worry about some landlord wanting to raise the rent. You've got some fantastic bar and arcades now that get people in for some games, nostalgia and some drinks. Since Barcade opened in Brooklyn they've expanded with two other locations and there's also the 1Up in Denver, Ground Kontrol in Portland and lets not forget Insert Coin(s) in Las Vegas.

There's also a lot of arcades that are working around the old business ways and coming up with something new that has been working out. At The Next Level in Brooklyn and also at The Galloping Ghost in Chicago they have been doing membership fees rather then charging games on coin drop. At both arcades you can pay by the day, hour, month or even at Galloping Ghost a yearly pass and all of the games are on free play. This is great because not only can you offer arcade games but console games. Some places do offer console games on timers, like Nintendo Playchoice systems (I'm not exactly sure how legal that is), but this makes it great for games that are meant for arcades like Street Fighter X Tekken and Soul Calibur V that will never have arcade releases. You can simply charge people to come in, bring their own arcade sticks and pads (Next Level also lets you rent them if you don't have one) and gamers get the experience of playing in an arcade and the owners collect the fees.

I could also go on about the attitudes of people changing. I've often said about how much I hate the way people talk online with all the hate filled messages over Xbox Live. If you called people names like you do on Xbox Live in an actual arcade you'd get your ass handed to you. I've seen articles and videos like this pop up all over the place. Somebody says arcades are gone, people like me keep trying to say, "No! No! Their still around!" It all comes down to going out and looking for yourself. Go over to our link bar and check out Arcade Fly and our good friend Dave's site and look for places in your area that might offer pinball or arcade games. If you know of one that's not listed, make an account and add them in. You help out a business by getting the word out to more people on a site they might not know exists and you might never know what's near you that you might pass on your way to work. Just go out and look!

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