Kevin Williams: "Coin-op is still ahead of console"

AH friend and contributor Kevin Williams, who heads up The Stinger Report has penned a feature article for Computerandvideogames.com and where he is an amusement industry expert, his subject: coin-op games. But more importantly, how coin-op games have stayed ahead of the curve in developing technologies that home console are only picking up on in recent years. The headline is sure to cause some friction – it certainly did if you look at some of the comments on the article’s page but I think that’s because some people are missing the point I mentioned of developing technology in controlling a game. Kevin gets into motion controls and 3D displays, all of which have had a place in the amusement industry in decades past but only now are really catching on for the home market. He also gets into areas where arcades succeeded where the consoles failed (such as with the Terminator Salvation license) and where consoles have crossed over into amusement to take advantage of what a dedicated coin-op cabinet has to offer. That advantage can be the controls, the sound system or the display and not just the graphics themselves.

You can read it all here and let us know what you think in the comments.

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11 Comments on “Kevin Williams: "Coin-op is still ahead of console"”

  1. Crabby Says:

    As expected practically ALL the comments are about how the arcades are dead. The evidence provided by the commenter is well my local arcade is dead so they’re all dead…..

    • Shaggy Says:

      That’s generally how the argument is always put forth. I’m amazed at times how even presenting facts fails to persuade people who have their mind set on arcades being a thing of the past. It might be because arcades sell a few thousand units instead of millions so it doesn’t look as impressive, despite the fact that it’s much more expensive item. If Super Bikes sells 9000 units; golden Tee 3000 units on pre-order; Terminator 1,000 in 30 days; that all seems to imply that there are thousands of locations where you can find a game!

  2. Crabby Says:

    All I can say is if the market is so bad and arcades are so dead, why are Raw Thrills, IT, SEGA and Namco still in the business of making arcade games? Either they are making money or they aren’t. They don’t put out arcade games because it is a hobby.

    • arcades4ever Says:

      I agress with you crabby, everything I looked at in the article sounded true but looking at the comments seems to make it look bad. people sterio type seem to think that once game consoles were released that there was no need for arcades anymore. I still see people play arcade games in the UK and people tend to think that only place you can play arcade games is at the seaside which is not true as arcades can be found anywhere thats in a public busy area such as bowling alleys, cinema, airports, cruis ships, shopping centres etc. I love playing games on wii and xbox but where else can you play games such as outrun 2 spdx super scale or win prizes?

    • Shaggy Says:

      Very true. I don’t know how much profit is built into each sale of a machine, it probably varies but you can imagine that if it were say $500 a unit and you sell just 1000 units, you’re not doing too bad. With some of these games at the prices they go for, I wouldn’t be surprised if the profit made on each machine is higher than that.

      • Crabby Says:

        I can assure you the profit is much much higher than $500. I’ve seen some sites that say Raw Thrills revenue is estimated at anywhere from $30 million – 50 million a year. Are the figures accurate? Who knows….. But they must make enough to stay in business.

  3. shouryuuken Says:

    yeah.. the comments in the linked article are pretty mislead. they seem to be under the impression that consoles just “caught up” with arcades as opposed to the fact that the developers just stopped making games with prettier graphics than console games.

    back in the 90s, the most popular games were fighting games and beat em ups.. nowadays.. its shooters and action games.

    i think arcades could have a huge resurgence worldwide if either sega, capcom, konami, or raw thrills (and whomever else wanted to join) made a standard engine like the unreal engine to make all their games on, and then make unified hardware that was more advanced than consoles to run their games on.

    if they spent the money doing that, then when it came time to develop the games.. theyd spend less time and money and get more profit.

    besides that, they need to try and make games that would compete with whats on the consoles. an arcade style halo or call of duty that focused on multiplayer modes, connected online with other cabs in other game centers, and devil may cry or god of war type games with short time attack/boss rush modes would probably be huge hits at arcades.. especially if the graphics looked much better than ps3/360 games.

    kind of off topic, but i cant stand people saying arcades are dead for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with the reason they arent as popular as before.

    its the same reason people say pc gaming is dead.. there are hardly any exclusive games on the pc, and the developers no longer make pc games that have graphics generations ahead of the current consoles.. all the money is in consoles so the devs are really hurting both the arcade and pc industries.. the two industries responsible for the creation of the most popular games on consoles.

  4. Crabby Says:

    @shouryuuken

    The problem with a standard engine is that there isn’t a one size fits all that would work for the myriad of arcade games out there. How would you build an engine specifically designed for fighting games that at the same time can be used to make a racing game?

    Also you mention Unreal. While using a pre-built engine has it advantages (cost, quicker development etc. etc.) I have noticed that many games on Unreal look and play the same. Not all mind you but quite a few have that “Unreal” look to them or similar feature sets.

    As for needing to compete with games that are on the XBox360 and PS3 in terms of graphic fidelity…. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Look at Nintendo. They decided to not compete in that space and they have sold more consoles than XBox360 and PS3. It’s all about the GAME PLAY and having a good time while being at a competitive price point….

    What the arcade industry needs are fresh games that are fun to play and at a competitive price for the operator. The games also need to appeal to a broad audience not just the “Call of Duty” crowd in order to be successful.

    Ok I am off my soap box…..

    • shouryuuken Says:

      dude.. plenty of non first person shooters have been made with the unreal engine 3.. games as diverse as action games like x-men origins: wolverine, batman: arkham asylum, rpgs like lost odyssey, mass effect, and last remnant, the excellent 2d metroid inspired platformer.. shadow complex, a fighting game: mortal kombat vs dcu, and interesting first person games like the rpg/shooter hybrid borderlands, and the first person platformer mirrors edge… in fact.. gears of war is the only game that has an “unreal look” on the unreal engine when i really think about it.

      main thing is that if you dont adapt then you die.. you mentioned that the industry needs fresh games.. well.. fighting games, light gun shooters, and indie shmups are great and all.. but extremely niche. sure, soul calibur IV, tekken 6, blazblue, mk vs dcu, and any other fighters i dont recall getting arcade releases should have been made for arcades first.. but even then.. fighting games are still niche.

      the arcade industry has flirted with competitive shooters in the past.. segas outrigger was a decent try, but the only other things i can think of ever seeing were a halo cabinet, a cab that adapts mgs online for arcades, half life 2, and some terrible shooter midway got ed boon to work on.. and they arent spectacular games.

      i mean, midway had the publishing rights to unreal.. i think twitch shooters like unreal tournament and quake 3 are perfect for an arcade setting. matches dont last long, and they take lots of memorization and quick reflexes like fighting games. in fact, i see people going “pro” with games like call of duty very similar to the seriousness of the street fighter tournaments of yesteryear.

      and to address your remark about the wii.. so what? nintendo is and has been for years the greatest publisher in the history of video games.. they make truckloads of money on their titles. but statistics show that people buy the wii and then dont play any games on it, so wii fit and wii sports are more of a phenomenon than the wii itself. on the other hand, third party titles on the xbox 360 and ps3 are drawing in crowds with multi million dollar sales.. take halo for example. halo 3 sold 11 million units.. on a console that has little over half the install base of the wii..

      so yeah, theres definitely something that could be beneficial to the arcade industry by looking into bringing competitive shooters to the market.

  5. Shaggy Says:

    I do agree that how a game plays and “feels” is quite important and shouldn’t take a back seat to getting the prettiest looking water effect in a game. And I think that it only takes one great game to change everything and arcades used to churn those out regularly.

    But…

    Arcades should have amazing graphics. They should stand out. They should be the perfect platforms for showing off the latest graphical techniques where it makes sense. Imagine how easy it would be to market an arcade game running 60fps @1200p/1440p/1600p resolution. There are many who would eat that up. An arcade title with excellent graphics will get people to stop in their tracks and want to play, then that’s where you need a solid and fun game to keep them hooked. But if you look at common arguments against arcades is that when they lost their superiority to consoles or when it became less of a chasm is when some stopped paying attention. Sadly, there are those who are that superficial. It is true that the Wii has shown that a weaker system can prevail with the right games but attach rates on the Wii are really bad compared to the other two systems and there is an awful lot of crap on the system. That is a case where the pack-in game helped drive a lot of sales but that doesn’t apply to arcades. If anything some successful Wii games used arcade formulas to their success, offering a simple set of games that were easy to learn, fun to play, difficult to master. In fact I saw today that the 10th best selling game on the Wii was Link’s Crossbow Training, something that’s a bit of a light-gun shooter. Except for Super Mario Galaxy, all of the top 10 games could easily be converted to an arcade title. If they were a graphical upgrade would make sense to push the “hey it’s better in arcades” aspect.

    I don’t think that attempting a first person shooter or a third person hack n’ slash title is a bad idea. It has to be changed somewhat to work right but there are games in the past which have used those concepts, in the late 90’s early 00’s. There’s no reason why you couldn’t make a successful arcade based on one of these genres. Since everyone is familiar with these kind of games anyways, that helps with the learning curve.

  6. Brent Silby Says:

    Its funny how the only people who state that arcades are dead are the people who don’t go to arcades. They’ve made a choice to twiddle little control pads at home, sitting on the floor in front of a TV rather than enjoying full size robust interfaces with surround sound. Of course, since they don’t go to arcades they can’t make any justified claims as to whether arcade are dead or not. If they are not going, how would they know?

    Far from being dead, arcades are very much alive, showcasing awesome new technologies that are not available in the home. Our local arcade is always packed on the weekend. Its great for teenagers. I mean, seriously, what teenager wants to stay at home playing games with their parents when they can spend time away from home in an arcade with friends?

    Going to the arcade to play games has an appeal similar to going to the movies to see a film. Sure, we can watch movies at home, but there are distractions which detract from the pure experience. The same is true of games. Only the purist of gamers go out specifically to play games. The rest stay at home, balancing play with other household activities.

    I’m very happy to see the rise in arcade popularity. Its awesome to see new arcades opening up around the world, and its promising to read about the huge increase in arcade revenue streams over the last few years. Long may it last. Videogames belong in their proper home–in an arcade.


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