Kotaku, convenience and laser tag

With the continually growing popularity of home consoles, it’s often easy for the consumer gaming media to marginalise other types of gaming – be they tabletop games for the home or larger experiences, such as arcade gaming. Occasionally however, someone will speak up in defence of these other games. Recently, just such an incident cropped up involving Kotaku, whose editor Brian Crecente penned an article on the issue of convenience. This examined the relationship between the decline of laser tag and Dungeons & Dragons and the rise of Halo and Everquest, concluding that the video games are simply more convenient, and looked to the future by comparing the iPhone’s business model with that of the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

So far, so standard. It’s true that purchasing games for the iPhone is an easy process, given their instant availability and general low prices. But Kotaku chose to run an interesting response from Jason Bock, the director of marketing for LaserTron. It highlighted the busy laser tag location he is employed by, as well as the variance in equipment, target audiences and location quality.  The suggestion is that while laser tag is not a daily entertainment choice for many people, it is still a valid one and opinions on the whole industry should not be formed on the basis of a single location. I’m inclined to agree – just last year, a huge new venue opened up in my home town.

There is a lot here that we can relate to, as arcade enthusiasts. Blanket assertions of a “dead” industry are fairly common, but they are often based on the all-or-nothing premise that if the arcade sector is not leading the video game industry, it has nothing left to offer. Of course, the arcade clearly does not lead the video game industry and hasn’t done for some time, but to call the industry dead is to ignore the companies making good money, and the new arcades which open. Most players may not be spending every day at an arcade, but enough are still heading out to make it worthwhile for all of us involved in the industry.

[Kotaku: Video games aren’t killing laser tag] [Discuss on the forums]

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7 Comments on “Kotaku, convenience and laser tag”

  1. ECM Says:

    Wow, what a surprise: Kotaku’s research boils down to “well, it sucks in my neck of the woods, so it must be terrible everywhere!” And people take these guys seriously, sigh.

    • Shaggy Says:

      that is sadly the exact same rule they apply to arcades. Same goes for some commentators I see in their arcade threads too “I don’t have an arcade in my area so I know it’s dead” etc.

      Besides, real facts wouldn’t give them an outlet to show angst. 😛

      • Phil Arrington Says:

        Damn, I was about to post this. I read this the other day and I found this an interesting topic

  2. Phil Arrington Says:

    On another note, if ppl can say arcade are dead (this might sound ignorant, you can say console are too in a way.

    I mean, everyone got a console, however, only a few games ever make a profit, and more and more companies are dropping the company they acquire after a release of a video game. The company that did the Iron Man 2 video game was dropped by Sega after the release, as well as other companies.

    I mean, the majority of titles people play on consoles are sequels anyway, half of the games are med-core and while the other are not worth the 60 bucks.

    But that’s just my opinion.

    • Shaggy Says:

      Yeah, you can look at the Wii and notice that sure, it has sold tons and tons of units but the attach rates stink and even though they have a huge quantity of titles available, good luck finding a game that’s actually any good. I think I have had more “regret” buys on the Wii than any other console I’ve owned. Between the 360 and PS3, there are a few games there that are cool and I like some of the offerings on XBLA that aren’t ports of classic games but I think I own four disc games for the 360. Granted I buy most new games on PC if they are available, even though PC gaming is becoming more of a headache as everyone puts their stuff on Steam or uses DRM that is so draconian it has a hard time letting legitimate players play a single player game (new Ubisoft games for example). The console industry has it’s problems and it’s amusing to see, as Kevin says, how they often feel threatened by much smaller parts of the industry, such as arcades or even laser tag because of their margins. I know that’s why they focus a lot on sequels, as that’s pretty much a guarantee and is less risky then something new.

  3. editor Says:

    Guys, you know my feeling about the consumer media coverage of amusement – the situation is getting worst, but that is partly due to the downturn in sales in consoles over the last few months.

    I would point you all to GamesIndustry.biz to see the changing state of the consumer scene, and how this will impact the media – as they suffer, so they will lash out at any other industry that could ‘hijack’ what they see as their audience.

  4. Z Says:

    Apple offers a prime example of convenience which can translate to the arcade business model. Most family’s cannot afford to take their kids to Disney World to celebrate a birthday, instead it’s more convenient to head over to the new FEC that just opened up in town. It’s closer, it’s cheaper and probably just as fun for kids.

    Arcades per se are in fact “dying”. A stand alone video arcade simply cannot compete with bigger franchises like a D&B or Chuck E Cheese. The locations that are thriving are those incorporating arcades into their FECs, Bars, Theaters or Laser Tag arenas as attraction pieces. My company has done a tremendous amount of sales to start ups in the past 2 months and if the economy continues its uphill trend that we’ve been seeing I expect many more family oriented establishments to open through out the county.


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