A tale of two cities

It’s another one of those days, as contrasting stories emerge about the health of arcade gaming. Badness abounds as New Orleans CityBusiness is reporting that the original Fun Arcade in New Orleans is closing down after 37 years, leaving no traditional arcades in the area. The owner, 69 year old Jack Boasberg, blames the rise of game consoles and proclaims that “The traditional arcades will go the same way that drive-ins went“. Interestingly, the site of the second Fun Arcade (which closed in 2003) now hosts a LAN centre. The owner, 27 year old Michael Wagner, highlights an important problem with the expectations of those who would visit arcades: “When they make a new machine and it costs the arcade $20,000, people expect to pay a quarter to play it [...]

Elsewhere in the USA, Dallas Morning News has interviewed Brian Ashcraft, regular Kotaku contributor and author of the book Arcade Mania: The Turbo-Charged World of Japan’s Game Centers. While the introduction to the interview is less than positive about the American arcade scene, Ashcraft provides some interesting insights into the differences between US arcade culture and Japanese arcade culture. It’s well worth a read for anyone looking to learn a little more about what is undoubtedly the arcade capital of the world.

[Home video games force arcades to pull the plug] [Dallas native chronicles Japan's vibrant arcade culture in book] [Discuss on the Forums]

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4 Comments on “A tale of two cities”

  1. Nomax Says:

    This perfectly sums up the situation.

  2. Phil Arrington Says:

    I actually was hurt when I heard this. Its really sad but its the truth. You got machines that cost as much as a car and you have to basically wait 2 to 3 or maybe 4 years to make a profit when the game is obsolete.


  3. I’m intrigued as to how true this is. In the UK, it is pretty much expected that any new release game is going to cost at least £1 per credit. People don’t tend to like it, but it’s an accepted reality of arcade gaming. Do people in the US really still expect everything to be a quarter?

  4. Smidget Says:

    I think both of those statements sum of each side of the situation pretty perfectly.

    “The tradtional arcades…” – It will take a new a breed of arcade to be successful in the US. This could mean many things but from the start it’s about being a smart operator. Simply having the games is no longer enough.

    “people expect to pay a quarter to play it ” – If an operator is still running the business with a tradiotional arcade business plan, then of course the price has to almost be at a dollar because they’re not bringing in enough business. I think that a smart operator running an our arcade for todays generation could keep all non-dedicab at 50-75 cents and expensive dedicab stuff like Intial D at $1.00. Using a card system makes it easier to get away with it but when it comes to putting coins into a machine, Americans are not comfortable with passing the $1.00 mark.

    An example of a new breed? Arcade UFO in Austin, TX. Just look at their damn game list! The owners are completely involved in arcade culture and the community scenes for the games they own. They’ve made an arcade as “a building with games in it” but it’s the games they’re selecting and how they’re using them that is making the difference. I’ve just been following their blog since they opened and doing things like “Here at Arcade UFO just one day after its Japanese arcade-only release is the hotly anticipated update to Arcana Heart 2, titled “Su~goi! Arcana Heart 2.″ << That’s what it takes.

    Then there’s the way of completely revolutionizing what an arcade is. Dave and Busters did this in one sense but that’s more of an entertainment center, not an arcade. Using todays technology and knowledge of the gaming scene to bring people to a location is the key. It will take more than just arcade games. http://www.Gamefrog.net is an example of this, just without the arcade games. Add a nice , small selection of arcade games to the mix and you’re off! As it sustains itself, grow it little by little and eventually you’ll have a full fledged arcade. Just take your time.

    If you want just a building with games in it, look at Arcade UFO as one example. If you want to make something completely fresh and appealing enough to people to get them out of their homes, become a gaming center.


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