Death of the arcade being greatly exaggerated by mainstream game journalists

Shaggy August 17, 2007 16

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[Via Gametrailers via Arcade Renaissance]

I caught this at Arcade Renaissance and I’m glad I did. Anytime we can debunk falsehoods that come from the mainstream gaming journalism world I’m happy to line up. Of course the level of incompetency you see in the video is just bad that it’s really not hard to do. Ryan at AR makes several good points which I recommend you read, I’m just going to add my own thoughts to the debate. Let’s begin. (BTW- I’ve updated a few of my comments)

1. Against what everyone seems to believe the arcade is not dead. In 2006 the industry made $6 billion. Last I checked, that means NOT DEAD. OK it’s definently not as much as it was back in the early 80’s and it does show that the number of arcades has dropped, but last year also didn’t see many affordable good games come out, unlike this year. Also how on earth did GlobalVR post its best sales ever this last May if the arcade is dead? Did ON Networks even go to an arcade on the weekend to check it out? Did they bother to ask arcade developers what their earnings are? In fact did they research anything before putting this piece out? Read on.

2. “It’s like a malt shop in the 50’s, it’s not something we have anymore” – OK so I suppose those businesses I see around my state that call themselves arcades aren’t really arcades. They must be figments of my imagination , even though there are several of them and they always seem to be packed on weekends. I guess I should take some pictures or video so I know I’m not going insane.

3. Pong was released in 1972 NOT 1971. At the very least the dates for everything else was right so it’s not a big complaint.

4. Nail in the coffin was the Sega Genesis? You have got to be kidding me. Everyone knew that no matter how nice the home version was, arcades were ALWAYS better and thus people still went out to play. Also talking about Sega like they were the first to come up with the idea of bringing their arcade hits to the system is completely false. Atari was doing that in the late 70’s and is one reason why the 2600 became so huge. Even the NES did that before the Genesis.

On top of this, some very popular arcade games came out around the time of the Genesis that showed that the arcade had some life in it. Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc. They do mention this briefly but state that after this brief era the arcade was dead, completely ignoring strides made by later games including all the motion-based games you never hear of because journalists are too busy having a Wiigasm to notice anything else that was innovative before the home consoles were.

5. I have an issue with them saying that home console games can be a lot more fun than an arcade game. What a load of BS, arcades HAVE to be fun in addition to being hard so they keep making that money. If it’s nothing but frustrating then of course people won’t play it. Yes it’s true that home consoles give away one experience that you can’t get in the arcade but it also works the other way.

6. Using the NeoGeo as a ‘case in point’ is totally ridiculous. It had nothing to do with the games being “boring” as the ‘expert’ says but with the price point that he just happens to mention and then blows off. Not only did the console cost about $600 and was poorly marketed but each game cost about $200. They could have released Halo on the NeoGeo and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference with the game itself costing a third of what the system did. Of course SNK also released more fighters than anything else but saying that it was the arcade style games on the system that killed it is the 2nd most uneducated statement in this entire video. The absolute dumbest comment comes a little later.

7. “Why do I want to spend $54 for 3-minute bursts of fun, nobody wants that” – this is the fault of home consoles, not the arcades themselves – arcades give you those bursts of fun for a quarter or two (and yes on occasion $1 or $2, depending on the age of the game). It was the home consoles that would charge you those high prices for the same thing, which kind of defeats their point about how much better home consoles are for the arcade experience. I find it funny that they keep bringing up how it’s better to have the games at home (but at the same time they somehow suck; of course home versions were never as good as the arcade version but they ignore this) because it’s supposedly cheaper but you could beat the game several times over by the time you’d reach the $60 price tag of the home version. It’s also interesting how they completely ignore the existence of Xbox Live Arcade that obviously shows that some people don’t mind playing games in short bursts and don’t want to spend 60 hours of repetitive gameplay to wade through a story.

8. “How do you play a sports game at the arcade?” – yes they actually say this in the video. Whoever directed this video apparently decided on finding the dumbest person they could to comment on this in desperation to somehow make their point. Sports games have always been around in arcades and they are always a lot more fun on top of that. Pong was a sports game; Atari Football(1978) was huge and only eclipsed by Space Invaders; I could name many others that were great in arcades: Cyberball, Punch Out, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, the entire Golden Tee series (which has been around for a while) and more. I don’t always want to play team manager of a professional team for a whole season, I just want to play the game and arcades give you that and most of the time arcades do it much better than home consoles do.

9. Point about competition and social interaction. (begin sarcasm) Yes the social interaction online is so much better when you hear 8 year olds swearing up a storm at you while you try and play and also while you have to deal with modders and cheaters. The online experience is just SO much better than the arcade (end sarcasm) where it’s about real skill, cheating is next to impossible and people behave themselves better as they don’t have that anonymity that turns them into total jerks.

Finally, don’t tell all those people that go out all the time to DDR competitions that the arcade is dead. Or people that went to CAX that it was only about nostalgia and nothing else. For some reason I think those of us that actually play arcades and who are not paid off to make dumb statements understand this. Maybe one day mainstream gaming journalists will too, once they can get off of their lazy cans and actually go out sometime.

[Discuss on the Forum]


16 Comments »

  1. RyanDG August 17, 2007 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    All great points. I’m just amazed that people out there really had the opinions that these people have. Everything from the fact that arcade games are bad games to the you can’t do a sports game in an arcade…

    I just shook my head watching the video. Its an absolute shame that this is being expressed as the popular opinion now.

  2. HeavyElectricity August 17, 2007 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    That’s a stunningly narrow view of the situation. The portrayal of Street Fighter 2 as a “dead cat bounce” is rather ignorant, and it completely ignores later successes such as Daytona USA. The claim that arcade games lack depth and replay value is also laughable, given the growth of save cards in recent years and the skill it takes to master a game like Virtua Fighter 5. I couldn’t help but laugh at the ludicrous claim about sports games, as NBA Jam was extremely popular and the Virtua Striker series has always done well in the UK.

    Consoles are great to play games on because they are versatile – the home environment allows players the choice of longer games. However, to suggest that nobody wants short games is to ignore the fact that Crazy Taxi sold millions of copies across all formats, and that the PS3 version of Virtua Fighter 5 went straight to the top of the charts in Japan.

  3. Nick August 17, 2007 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    What crock. I tried posting with a link to one of my videos I took at this year’s FunSpot tournament to show them how “dead” the place was. These people have NO idea what their talking about. The crap about the Neo-Geo and the “How do you do a sports game in the arcade” was proof positive that they were full of garbage.

  4. Shaggy August 17, 2007 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    I updated my comments a little – I keep thinking of new things to say as this video made me so angry that it’s hard to stop. You guys also make excellent points/comments – but of course you also understand what the arcade is about. As you mentioned Ryan, the comments you see under that video are also ludicrous. It’s sad to see that many people wholeheartedly accept and believe what this video fed them.

    BTW- Did anyone else notice that the girl with all the tattoos who was commenting throughout the video a few times was labeled as the Guitar Hero player? I find that quite funny as before there was Guitar Hero there was Guitar Freaks…

  5. Nick August 17, 2007 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    What I love the most is when some people see Guitar Freaks at an arcade they think that Konami ripped the game off from Red Octane! I’ve heard once “Woah! What’s that! It’s like a ghetto version of Guitar Hero! I can play the real thing at home!”

  6. editor August 18, 2007 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Let me give this opinion – what do you do when you are blocked from reviewing PS3 and XB360 games because the PR firms than run the reviewers don’t like you. And the Nintendo guys have told you no go on getting any Wii stuff…?

    Thats rights slag off the arcade industry, just before you run a whole lot of features on retro games (yes retro arcade that is so popular on XBLIVE)!!!

    Lets face it guys, we will be seeing a lot more reports like this as the console slow down increases and the crack journo’s of this industry need a dog to kick! (just before they all jump ship and claim to be arcade experts!)

  7. editor August 18, 2007 at 1:22 am - Reply

    “Mainstream”! – yeah they wish. No G3TV for those failures

  8. Nick August 18, 2007 at 2:38 am - Reply

    I keep forgetting another favorite line about the Neo-Geo. If nobody wanted the Neo-Geo then why the hell did it last for almost 15 years making it the longest running console ever?

    *Pssst! Editor, it’s G4, not G3!

  9. Stevie C August 18, 2007 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    We operate arcade games and we make a healthy living out of it, so I guess it is not dead! You will never get the same feeling as sitting in a Driving game (like Daytona), sitting at home playing some half baked cockpit set up with a plastic steering wheel and a set of plastic pedals sitting on the floor! Or House of the dead in an enclosed big screen with full curtains!We also ran DDR for years and had a massive following for it! The players had the PS2 version but said it had nothing on the coin op version and spent heaps. Anyway hello from Australia.

  10. Nick August 19, 2007 at 4:37 am - Reply

    Well the video is gone now. I guess they got made fun of by just about every other gaming blog/news site. Too bad nobody saved it. It’s going to be hard to tell people about this video with a straight face.

  11. RyanDG August 20, 2007 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    The video is up on the ON Networks website. The link that I was given by e-mail was a link to Gametrailers. It seems that someone from Gametrailers “illegally hosted” the video on their network (similarly to what happens when someone puts up a TV show on YouTube!). You can find the video here – http://www.onnetworks.com/videos/play-value/the-death-of-arcades

    I’ve also updated my original post on my blog with the new link/embedded video as well.

  12. Charles Salvia August 4, 2009 at 2:51 am - Reply

    Maybe the journalists exaggerate the situation somewhat, but the truth is that there are DRASTICALLY fewer arcades nowadays than there were in the late 90s. In the 90s just about every shopping mall/bowling alley/pizza parlor in America had some version of Street Fighter you could play. These days you basically don’t see arcades outside of major cities. Even in Manhattan video arcades are rare.

    So, while arcades may not be totally dead, they are certainly not a part of everyday life anymore, and so your criticism amounts to nothing but nitpicking.

  13. Shaggy August 4, 2009 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Well Charles, do you have any idea of how many arcades actually exist out there or are you simply basing the idea on your “observations”? There are thousands of locations that carry arcade machines today, and this has been documented. I know of many places outside of major cities that have arcades and you can find many of them on websites like Arcade Finder and Arcade Fly. I just so happen to own an arcade that I opened up a year ago and this past month was our best ever. While arcades may not be as huge as they once were, labeling them as all dead simply because of diminished influence and numbers is ridiculous.

    My criticism is based on actual facts, something that this video was lacking sorely enough to the point that they had to change face and scramble to regain some credibility in the next video they made about the subject where they had some better fact checking.

    Of course another question I have to make to you is why do you care about this poor excuse for game journalism that this video was supposedly peddling?

  14. editor August 5, 2009 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Well Charles – ‘nitpicking’ seems a strong term when this whole site proves the reality of amusement interest.

    I actually did the calculations and in North America ‘MORE’ video amusement machines are shipped than in 1985! The reason is that unlike ‘dedicated’ arcades, the amusement industry is now split between FEC, cinemas, bowling centers, malls and attraction parks.

    As you are a member of the consumer game software sector I can understand that any critism of your market is bard to stand – but I would caution you to be more open minded and avoid misguided statements.

  15. Charles Salvia August 15, 2009 at 3:49 am - Reply

    I’m not a member of the “consumer game software sector”, and I realize there are plenty of video arcades still in existence. But “plenty” is a relative term here. In the 90s, video arcades were ubiquitous – almost every shopping mall had a dedicated arcade. Today, there are no major shopping malls in New York/New Jersey which have video arcades. Sure, you can still find video arcades – but you have to go out of your way to find them. This is why I used the term “nitpicking.” The game journalists may be exaggerating the situation somewhat, but their point is still relevant: there are significantly less video arcades available today than there used to be, which can only reflect a significantly decreased interest in video arcades from the general public.

    I spent a good portion of my teenage years/early twenties in video arcades, and I have no wish to see them go, but the fact is they are simply not anywhere near as common as they were 10 years ago.

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