Archive for the ‘Arcade business’ category

Tokyo Game Action closes

February 10, 2009

bigtgaIt’s always sad to see an arcade closing, but this one is particularly heartbreaking. Tokyo Game Action of Wichendon, MA has been forced to shut down with immediate effect, with a liquidation sale to be held in May in order to secure as much cash for the creditors as possible. The arcade opened in 2003, but has had problems operating for roughly two months due to constant flooding, causing a massive shortfall of income while bills have been mounting.

The worst part of all this is that it has happened to a genuinely nice team trying very hard to offer a great experience to players. The arcade was an archetype for modern amusement operations – it was community driven, willing to buy new games and experiment with different payment models, and offered a range of services beyond arcade games, such as a bowling alley and unique food service serving Japanese and American dishes.

Keep an eye on the Tokyo Game Action website for details of the liquidation sale, as maximum revenue is required to help keep a roof over the heads of the team (sadly, this is no exaggeration). We at Arcade Heroes wish you guys the best of luck in the future.

[Tokyo Game Action][Discuss on the Forum]

Play Meter Magazine’s 2008 State of the Industry report

January 27, 2009

playcoverEvery year since 1976, the amusement trade industry magazine Play Meter gathers information from operators and others in the industry to put together a State of the Industry Report. When I was researching every aspect I could about arcades when I was putting together my business plan, these came in handy. Play Meter has released their report for 2008 and along with it a bunch of interesting and useful stats on the industry such as the fact that they have 5,000 arcades on record for the US, which is up from 2007. That flies in the face of the constant “arcades are totally dead in the US” talk I see fairly often. That doesn’t include the 3,000 FECs or 168,000 street locations. Thet average weekly gross for dedicated arcade games is up quite a bit too – from $88 avg. per week to $213 – the highest in the past five years. Although even with the higher stats in certain areas, it looks like some of the operators quoted in the margins are pretty pessimistic (but 91% of them think they’ll still be in business in the next five years) but I have noticed that they almost always seem to be. Not all of us are morbidly pessimitic though, there certainly are challenges we have to face but I think that 2009 is a prime year for all of us to turn any bad situations around or at least make the most out of what we have got.

Hit the link below to check the report out

[Play Meter Magazine's State of the Industry Report 2008] [Discuss on the Forum]

Play Meter Magazine's 2008 State of the Industry report

January 27, 2009

playcoverEvery year since 1976, the amusement trade industry magazine Play Meter gathers information from operators and others in the industry to put together a State of the Industry Report. When I was researching every aspect I could about arcades when I was putting together my business plan, these came in handy. Play Meter has released their report for 2008 and along with it a bunch of interesting and useful stats on the industry such as the fact that they have 5,000 arcades on record for the US, which is up from 2007. That flies in the face of the constant “arcades are totally dead in the US” talk I see fairly often. That doesn’t include the 3,000 FECs or 168,000 street locations. Thet average weekly gross for dedicated arcade games is up quite a bit too – from $88 avg. per week to $213 – the highest in the past five years. Although even with the higher stats in certain areas, it looks like some of the operators quoted in the margins are pretty pessimistic (but 91% of them think they’ll still be in business in the next five years) but I have noticed that they almost always seem to be. Not all of us are morbidly pessimitic though, there certainly are challenges we have to face but I think that 2009 is a prime year for all of us to turn any bad situations around or at least make the most out of what we have got.

Hit the link below to check the report out

[Play Meter Magazine's State of the Industry Report 2008] [Discuss on the Forum]

Amusement industry bucking the slowdown trend…in India

January 23, 2009

stinger11

As we know, many different parts of the the world are experiencing an economic slowdown and when this happens, it’s natural for many kinsd of industries to be hit hard. We’ve been hearing of layoffs and closures of many businesses, even in the game world (in fact we have some news on a couple of amusement related businesses in Japan closing which I’ll post later). But historically, entertainment, especially out-of-home entertainment is known to do all right or good during recessions as people look for an escape. Such is the case in India right now, where there is a slowdown occurring in that country too but the amusement industry there is bucking the trend and continuing to grow at a rate of 10% -15%. One interesting note made in the article we’re gleaning this information from is that the sector began to market aggressively and that is definitely paying off.

It does make me wonder about how the amusement industry as a whole is doing in the US and Europe right now – from my small business perspective, things at my arcade have remained steady after December was one of our best months yet and I haven’t been able to really market at all since November as my hands are tied with the forced move which can occur any day now. While I have had a few regulars stop coming frequently due to economic circumstances in their personal lives, I have also gained new customers who come just about every day. Either way, I don’t see my arcade as being a casualty of the recession anytime soon, and when I pick up BlazBlue and Guitar Hero along with the new location, I think that we will continue to grow. I hope that the same can be said for other arcades around the country as well as this year unfolds.

[Via The Economic Times] [Discuss on the Forum]

Paul's Billiards and Arcade opens in Ocean City, MD

January 21, 2009

pauls

stinger11

A small new arcade has opened in Ocean City Maryland and even though it is still relatively small (with 2 pool tables and 19 arcade games total, which includes redemption and pinball) it has already gained a following with the locals. They even have an unofficial mascot, with a dog named Ralph and patrons are requesting more games, including a Nintendo Wii setup.

We wish the best of luck to the success of Paul and his new small business, it’s always good to see new arcades opening up because it has the effect that I have talked about before – the more arcades that are out there, the more customers arcade makers have to sell to, which sales should translate into more development and in turn more enjoyment for players who get more games.

[Info and pic via Delmarvanow.com] [Discuss on the Forum]

Paul’s Billiards and Arcade opens in Ocean City, MD

January 21, 2009

pauls

stinger11

A small new arcade has opened in Ocean City Maryland and even though it is still relatively small (with 2 pool tables and 19 arcade games total, which includes redemption and pinball) it has already gained a following with the locals. They even have an unofficial mascot, with a dog named Ralph and patrons are requesting more games, including a Nintendo Wii setup.

We wish the best of luck to the success of Paul and his new small business, it’s always good to see new arcades opening up because it has the effect that I have talked about before – the more arcades that are out there, the more customers arcade makers have to sell to, which sales should translate into more development and in turn more enjoyment for players who get more games.

[Info and pic via Delmarvanow.com] [Discuss on the Forum]

A tale of two cities

January 19, 2009

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]

City thinks taxing arcades is good idea for their local economy

January 17, 2009

stinger11

Kotaku ran a story today discussing a small shop in Hampshire Illinois called Name Your Game where they sold items like clothes and candy and they had a small collection of arcades there which brought in a bit of business. Unfortunately the city decided that it wanted a piece of the pie from any arcades in their zone and enforced new taxes (which they called “fees”) on arcades in the city, which proved to be too burdensome for

The owner of Name Your Game

The owner of Name Your Game

the small business in question and they had to pull the games.

It’s unfortunate that this is still going on in some cities and it is still common to find such burdens placed upon arcades in many cities in the US and elsewhere – most are holdovers from the old days when arcades could be found everywhere. When I opened my own arcade last year I shopped around the different cities to see who would treat my business the best in this regard. While I could have gone to a city with a higher earning population, I choose not to as the fees they would apply on machines in that city would have been too great for me to bear, especially starting out. In the case of the business in this story, called I think it provides and excellent case for why this sort of thing does not work (which I also think can be applied to new tobacco taxes coming down the pipe). If you punish business, the economy will not prosper – we should have learned that lesson in the Great Depression but sadly most people forget or ignore history and repeat the same mistakes over and over again (on a reverse note, if you reward failures like we have been doing with bailouts, that will end up to be a dismal failure as well – free markets are about sorting out the winners from the losers and without that occuring, it will just cause more problems, in addition to the crushing debt we are letting ourselves get into).

Anyways, enough political ranting for now, I know that’s not what you come here for. I do hope that things can turn around for Name Your Game, perhaps the city will backtrack on their policy at one point or loosen it a bit. Hit the link below for the original source.

[Video Game Tax driving teens from their Hideout - The Courier News] [Discuss on the Forum]

Worried about the economy? Advertise

November 14, 2008

The AAMA has created a very interesting document that is of value to arcade operators and soon-to-be aamaoperators alike – something that deals with making money during a recession. Can such a thing be done? Absolutely, as there are people who make fortunes in recessions.And one thing that the AAMA recommends is marketing. They take a look at certain recessions since 1970 and come to the conclusion that companies that maintain an aggressive marketing posture can also maintain profitablity through and after the recession, so they recommend not cutting back on your marketing budget, if you have one. If you don’t have one then make one! Relying solely on word of mouth where you cannot control the message about your business is a poor way to get people through the door on a day-to-day basis.

You can read the AAMA’s article (PDF format) by clicking here. (Link found on this page)

The article does offer some suggestions abotu marketing, such as monitoring competitors and their marketing, avoid gimmicks, stress benefits and spend carefully (i.e. efficiently) but some of the venues I suggest you consider for getting the message out include: direct mailing (usually coupon deals), phone book ads, flyers, street signs (like political signs but with your message on them), Facebook, Myspace or other social networking sites, online ads with a local news station website, press releases for major events (hold tournaments), your own website, newspaper ads (some are getting desparate as revenues fall, they might offer good deals) and of course if you have the money, radio and TV advertising. You can also consider doing something with other local businesses – trading flyers, coupons, whatever. I have something like that going on with two game stores in the mall I am located at and it has helped.

Personally I think that part of it is having ‘nerves of steel’ – if you panic every time you hear the news media talk about recession then the stress will damage your health. I find it better to not pay much attention to them, I think of the quote/joke that “the media has correctly predicted two out of the last ninety-seven recessions” meaning that they always overhype and exagerate conditions that aren’t necessarily a recession. Of course right now the indicators seem to be pointing that direction but I’ve been hearing the recession drum beat since early 2007 as though some people have been begging for one so I’m always a little skeptic until results of the GDP are in. Either way, I think that the AAMA has given some good advice on the subject and I personally understand that it can be difficult to come up with cash if you are struggling but as they say, you have to spend money to make money.

[Discuss on the Forum]

Say hello to Friction – a new arcade company and a new game UPDATED

September 10, 2008

AMOA is here and with it plenty new stuff to talk about. But today we don’t have just any news to talk about – it’s not every day we get to introduce to you a new company that is joining the fray of the arcade industry!

The name to remember – Friction Game Studios. Based in Los Angeles California, they have been working for some time on their first game known as Friction and soon you’ll be able to see it for yourself, either as an operator or a player.

Friction itself is a light-gun title where the gameplay looks to fit between Area 51 and F.E.A.R. (one the game’s designers is a fan of the latter). You play through three huge levels where you fight against hordes of robotic foes and on top of that there is plenty of destruction you can wreak on the game environment, with many breakable objects (ok, buzzword time: it has “destructible environments”)  and several types of weapons for you to use. From the official website about the game, here are all the features:

  • Real-time dynamic lighting using programmable pixel shaders
  • Fully destructible level geometry
  • Ultra-realistic physics and motion captured character animations
  • Over 14 different enemies with varied attack behaviors
  • Variety of player weapons and powerups
  • Unique transforming super bosses with special attacks

As you can see from the video and screencaps below the graphics are pretty good (much better in person and on top of that the game upscales it’s resolution depending on the monitor), as in addition to the physics involved it also uses specular lighting effects. It’s more impressive when you think about the fact that this has been put together by a small team (of I believe two people sorry, I misspoke there – the company has two founders) as opposed to a team with hundreds of people.

(Click on the images to expand them)

The game’s configuration for cabinet or kit form is still TBD, their preference is to go with a full cabinet. No word on pricing or exact specifications on the hardware yet (they are not ready to reveal that at the moment) but it is sufficient to say that this should be something great for operators to add to their arsenal.

Here is a video of the game in action. There are a couple more videos on their website:

We can expect to see more from Friction Game Studios in the future, so stay tuned and we welcome them to the fold!

[Friction Game Studios Website] [Discuss on the Forums]


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