Game Over for Arcades?

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mtxblau

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MSNBC ran an interesting article about businesses that won't be here ten years from now. Rounding out the list were arcades:


Coin-operated arcades

With Nintendo Wii, casual gaming online and the Xbox 360, the video game arcade industry is thriving, but not the standalone brick-and-mortar arcades. For those of you who thought arcades were already dead, they still exist — at movie theaters, miniature golf courses and other touristy spots — but it seems only a matter of time before they vanish from the landscape. Ten years ago, there were 10,000 arcades in the nation, and now the number is close to 3,000, according to the American Amusement Machine Association. Revenue from arcade game units brought in $866 million last year, which sounds good until you consider that in 1994, the industry was pocketing $2.3 billion and that the profits are only still high because it costs so much to play a game.


Odds of survival in 10 years: Game over.



http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20873711/page/2/
 

Nadius

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That's too bad. It seems like being online is the new arcade. Besides some of the comprehensive stat features of alot of games, I'm not thrilled with playing online. I fall into this depressing anti-social funk. Also, more than half of the players i've encountered online feel uninhibited enough to spew hateful vomit when they feel like it. I'm debating whether the fees (XBL) are worth it or not.
 

joe81

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eh, last arcade i went to was dave and busters and they were charging like a dollar to play a game from the 90s. the things i'm seeing anymore becoming slightly popular are game stores where people go in and pay like 5 dollars to play like 360 and computer games and stuff together on big screen tvs.
 

ratfish

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As much as I like being 100% cynical about all things, I think arcades will still have a chance as long as there's just enough people willing to contribute time and money back into them if they want them to stay alive.

For instance, I was in Portland, OR last weekend and there just happens to be a great arcade there called Ground Kontrol. They don't have any new arcades machines, but their focus is on purely older games. They call themselves a Barcade, and let me tell you, if I lived in Portland, I'd be all-up-ons every day.

They have maybe 30-40 machines there including some pinball. They also have Super Mario Cart (SNES) set up at the bar table. They also tend to be a venue for aspiring chiptune musicians which is great for the community too, and I had an all around feeling that people cared about the place and were dedicated to keeping it up and running.

Now as for the profits involved, I have no idea and I didn't ask the owners, although I would assume that they make out pretty well based on what I saw there. There were a lot of people at the time (Sunday night).

edit:

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. 1 credit = 1 quarter for all the games there. Best thing ever.
 

mtxblau

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There are places that open and close around here, usually by former Penn students lamenting the need for old school arcades.


The problem is Dave & Buster's around here is quite big, and caters to casual gamers pretty well. They have retro arcades which cost an arm and a leg, but it's hard to compete when you can order a beer or onion rings as you're playing.


The other thing is - it's like how movies aren't doing so well, because you can get a nice home theater setup without leaving your house. You have the VC, PS store and Xbox arcade, with plasmas/lcds, it's hard to compete.


Of course you can't get the social aspect, but online gaming seems to be beating that up as well.


All that being said, I still miss it. The first time I played Street Fighter and Final Fight it was in the arcades, when playing alongside strangers was *the* multi-player. Anyone else play X-Men Arcade with the three screens and eight players? You can't recreate that.
 

dibz

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MTXBlau said:
Anyone else play X-Men Arcade with the three screens and eight players? You can't recreate that.
You're damn right I did. My brother and I beat that game in the arcade. It was awesome.
 

Jeffrey

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I think the death news is premature. I think teenagers will always need a place to hang out and "do things". They are much too hyper for coffee shops. Arcades may just adapt to meet those needs. Look at the success of dance games. DDR on paper should fail with easily embarrassed teens; however, it blossomed because hyper kids need things to do!

The trend extends to the home market with the popularity of many types of music games like Guitar Hero, Donkey Konga, Samba de Amigo. Now the Wii seems to be a profitable system based almost entirely in immersion. Arcades could cash in my making use of that trend. More physically involved games could bring a Saturday night audience back. In Japan, I noticed mostly couples in Arcades. They were doing physical things together. Dance games were far more popular than single player "screen games".

VCRs couldn't kill movie theaters because there is a HUGE social aspect. The arcade should find a new niche as a dating alternative if they stay open late and target the young adult crowd with easy to grasp, physically involved games that a friendly to both genders. Even games like Mr. Driller prove this.

Long rant. Sorry.
 

Kuta

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I always thought LAN game stores were going to kill the arcades. May still happen I guess.
 

mtxblau

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Jeffrey said:
I think the death news is premature. I think teenagers will always need a place to hang out and "do things". They are much too hyper for coffee shops. Arcades may just adapt to meet those needs. Look at the success of dance games. DDR on paper should fail with easily embarrassed teens; however, it blossomed because hyper kids need things to do!


The trend extends to the home market with the popularity of many types of music games like Guitar Hero, Donkey Konga, Samba de Amigo. Now the Wii seems to be a profitable system based almost entirely in immersion. Arcades could cash in my making use of that trend. More physically involved games could bring a Saturday night audience back. In Japan, I noticed mostly couples in Arcades. They were doing physical things together. Dance games were far more popular than single player "screen games".


VCRs couldn't kill movie theaters because there is a HUGE social aspect. The arcade should find a new niche as a dating alternative if they stay open late and target the young adult crowd with easy to grasp, physically involved games that a friendly to both genders. Even games like Mr. Driller prove this.


Long rant. Sorry.

I find your rant interesting principally because intentionally or unintentionally you've changed the unofficial definition of an arcade.


Maybe it's just a generation thing, but arcades were the stand up coin boxes with joysticks and buttons, right? I never really looked at DDR and Guitar Hero as arcade games - tekken, street fighter, soul calibur, pinball were.


But I guess if we change what we are expecting to be in an arcade, I guess they'll never die...


...but, simultaneously, arcades that older people know would be officially dead, yes?


Old guard arcade staples would be pinball, some fighter, some beat em up, some schmup, some driver. Now it's beat and chance games with some sort of VR racing. For me, the latter isn't an arcade - but I suppose that's what it is now, yes?


Good lord, I feel old. I'm only 26!


As for the VHS comment, I think it's misplaced. VHS was of poorer video and sound quality, and at the time trying to recreate a home theater would have cost in the five figures, easily.


Now you can buy a 42" LCD TV for under $600, and a decent surround system for $500 - not only is it cheaper, but you don't have to deal with the negatives of the social aspect - chatter, cell phones ringing, that guy with the annoying laugh, etc.


At least in this area, smaller movie theatres have been closing or finding the need to reinvent themselves (indie arthouses, that kind of thing). Bigger movie theaters have raised prices on tickets and have cracked down on the negative social aspects, making it more for the 'overall value-added experience'.
 

Jeffrey

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MTXBlau said:
As for the VHS comment, I think it's misplaced. VHS was of poorer video and sound quality, and at the time trying to recreate a home theater would have cost in the five figures, easily.

Now you can buy a 42" LCD TV for under $600, and a decent surround system for $500 - not only is it cheaper, but you don't have to deal with the negatives of the social aspect - chatter, cell phones ringing, that guy with the annoying laugh, etc.

At least in this area, smaller movie theatres have been closing or finding the need to reinvent themselves (indie arthouses, that kind of thing). Bigger movie theaters have raised prices on tickets and have cracked down on the negative social aspects, making it more for the 'overall value-added experience'.
Interesting! You must be happily coupled. Because the theatre appeals to people who don't know each other well enough to say "Want to come to my house and watch a movie?" Because a decent person would probably find that too familiar and possibly dangerous. The movie theatre will stay around because people need someplace to casually be active with a new person (a date). Arcades may have a similar function. Couples (and new potential couples) can have a night out without dancing or drinking; both of which could be potentially embarrassing for a first date.
 

mtxblau

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Jeffrey said:
Interesting! You must be happily coupled. Because the theatre appeals to people who don't know each other well enough to say "Want to come to my house and watch a movie?" Because a decent person would probably find that too familiar and possibly dangerous. The movie theatre will stay around because people need someplace to casually be active with a new person (a date). Arcades may have a similar function. Couples (and new potential couples) can have a night out without dancing or drinking; both of which could be potentially embarrassing for a first date.

Bwahaha!...sob. Yes, I've been married for over two years, and have been with my wife for over seven. I forget what it's like for the early courtship.


Though, that is an interesting point regarding the social aspect of movie theatres. Would it then be at the movie theatre's best interest to make movies that specifically appeal to those types of crowds? Kind of how arcades are reinventing themselves?


I suppose this would explain how movies like Superbad do incredibly well and other movies, well not so much. I bought a house in a neighborhood with many old people, and a vast majority have purchased the aforementioned LCD tvs. My next door neighbor's is so big it lights up our driveway at night. More to the point, he mentioned staying in on weekends and watching movies with his wife on his setup (as opposed to going out to the theatre).
 
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