The Stinger Report #599 – IAAPA 07 coverage part I

Shaggy November 29, 2007 0

The Stinger Report has released the first part of their IAAPA coverage and it is loaded with information pertaining to arcades and what the future holds for our industry. Certainly this is shaping up to be the best year we’ll see in amusement this decade. The report itself is quite long so I’ll work on slimming it down to something managable for this post.

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Sega Amusement USA – Had two booths, demonstrated Primeval Hunt (90% complete), Sega RaceTV (80% complete), 2 Initial D4 cabinets, and two of Sega’s mid-sized attractions OutRun 2 Special Attraction and Let’s Go Jungle Special. For Redemption they had UFO Catcher, their plush line and Pirate’s Revenge, a new game developed by a developer called TecWay along with IGS. Edit:‘Pirates Revenge’ is developed by IGS and distributed by Universal Space (UNIS) [no word why TecWay had it on their booth!!?] TecWay also was demonstrating a redemption game targeted towards kids called Ghost Hunter. They also showed a BeMani game called Drummer Championship, a game called Revenger a game that had players pounding cartoon characters with a mallet to corresponding clues.

GlobalVR – Demonstrated some of their latest releases including a linked NASCAR, America’s Army and Aliens: Extermination. Otherwise they did not show anything new but attracted large crowds.

IMON – demonstrated a new version of their Panzer Elite Tank title running on the motion based iGO hardware that includes network support and an external screen so people passing by could see what is going on. This version is already available from some distributors.

SimuLine – the creators of Sega’s Cycraft showed of MiniRide 2, which runs a series of special motion ride films based on the unique hanging motion system. They also announced the development of another simulator title called Race Car of Tomorrow: Today.

Incredible Technologies – no new games shown, their standard titles were shown as well as a new cabinet style.

Merit Entertainment – The makers of popular touch screen coin-op games demonstrated their new Firefly platform which is based on Tablet PC technology.

Namco America – Demonstrated their highly anticipated fighter, Tekken 6. Namco is testing the waters with the game in the US, which uses a HDD, IC Cards and the same style cabinet as seen in Japan (a sitdown cabinet with an HD monitor). It remains to be seen how the expensive hardware will do in arcades, especially if the PS3 version comes out soon afterwards. In addition to this Namco showed off their titles that are currently on the market including Maximum Tune 3, Mario Kart GP 2, Pac-Man 25th Anniversary and Taito’s Chase HQ 2. They also are working on a redemption title called Family Bowl 2.

AndaMiro – Showed off DDR’s major competitive title, Pump It Up NX2: Next Xenesis.

Trio Tech Amusement – demonstrated the very popular UFO Stomper that we at AH have show in a few posts. It uses two projectors mounted in the roof of the system. TrioTech is working on other titles to play on the platform.

Betson: Showed off the latest version of Big Buck Hunter Pro that includes innovative online play via the ‘Coin-Up’ system.

Finally according to the Stinger Report:

“Most of the interesting products on the show floor came from major (long-established) amusement manufacturers. However, two notable new developments from start-up developers proved a pleasant surprise, proving there is still interest in new concepts:

SlamBots – Two-Player coin-operated robot combat game, using technology familiar from the redemption car driving market, this new concept builds on an interest for robots in amusement.

Aerr-Ball – Best described as an air based foosball style game, the innovative design and compelling game experience will prove to be a big hit for the first manufacturer that licenses the hardware.”

We’ll see if we can get some pictures of some of the more interesting games mentioned. Hit the post break for the full Stinger Report.

[The Stinger Report] [Discuss on the Forum]

1. TITLE “Florida Cruising – IAAPA’07 Return! Part 1.” (#599)

Stinger REPORT Skinny!

(15/11/07) The 89th IAAPA Attraction Expo returns to Orlando, for a move welcomed by the attractions industry after last year’s weak Atlanta-based show. The Stinger’s first part of an intensive three-part report on this monstrous event offers a close look at the amusement-heavy display, including developments at US factory satellites, developments from the Taiwanese and Korean amusement scene, and the impact of convergence in the distribution sector – and some groundbreaking new concepts.

Main REPORT:

The Stinger team found themselves in sunny Orlando at the 89th Annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Attractions Expo. This show is the trade association’s major bash for the theme park, attractions and amusement (leisure entertainment) sector and the Mecca for the international Out-of-Home leisure entertainment industry.

Founded in 1918, IAAPA now represents over 4,500 members (including facilities, and suppliers across 90 countries) – an industry with 300 million guests entertained on US attractions each year. This year’s event was proposing to attract 25,000 amusement industry professionals, over 500,000 net square feet exhibition floor space with 1,100 exhibitors. In the end the preliminary estimate of actual visitation was an amazing 27,000 attendees.

The Stinger managed to traverse the whole of the vast show floor, as well as sit down with a number of the influential executives who are shaping the visitor attraction and entertainment scene.

– AMUSEMENT

Amusement has become a major component of the IAAPA event in recent years, though it has to be correctly placed in the coin-operated attraction element, with more conventional amusement only finding space in the show because it is worth it. The AAMA trade association has established a successful area for trade members to gather, though amusement also littered other areas of the show floor. Those systems found throughout are listed here.

SEGA Amusement USA (1) –The corporation had actually two booths at either ends of the exhibition hall, offering two different messages. The first booth in the arcade area offered a more conventional presentation – surprisingly, the booth did not have any actual SEGA signage, an omission that was questioned by many.

The booth included games that did not make AMOA’07, but did make Preview’08 – ‘Primeval Hunt’ (LindBergh) was shown 90% complete, with the majority of the game features operational. It’s an impressive shooting experience, but more information to the players on how to operate the touchscreen steering is essential to shine. The new driver ‘SEGA RaceTV’ (LindBergh Hardware) was shown in an 80% complete version to gauge interest by operators to the new driver racing into a crowded field. Other entrants include Sega’s own ’Initial D 4’ (LindBergh), two examples of this cabinet were also on booth. The larger Mid-Sized amusement pieces were represented with ‘OutRun 2 Special Attraction’ (LindBergh) and the ’Let’s Go Jungle Special Attraction’ (LindBergh) system.

Further into the booth, SEGA had their ‘UFO Catcher’ and full plush range on display. The Tecway / IGS-developed ‘Pirates Revenge’ (PC Hardware) redemption game was also on the booth; Tecway officials had limited information on the scope of the partnership with SEGA, and if they would be acting as exclusive distributor.

Informed sources who spoke on a “not for attribution” basis stated that SEGA’s future presence in the amusement sector would be seeing major changes. A strong contingent of UK and US executives made the trip to IAAPA (larger than attended AMOA’07). There was talk of news from the Japanese parents following their Private Show 2007 Autumn on business activities and the final size of their international sales presence, but this was not available off the show floor.

Breaking Stinger News – A matter of days before the IAAPA presentation, SEGA Japan held their ‘Private Show 2007 Autumn’. In previous years these events offered a mixed bag of releases; but this year this show seemed to fixate on a particular genre. Certain titles previously seen in pre-production, appeared here as videos in full production launches. These were ‘Derby Owners Club 2008: Feel the Rush’ (LindBergh), ‘MJ4’ (LindBergh), and the Japanese ancient battle game ‘Sangokushi War 3’ (CHIHIRO). The new medal game series was represented by ‘SNC Ver.2’ (LindBergh) and ‘UNO the Medal’; the company placing Satellite Terminal (ST) gaming in a prominent location (the Stinger covering this sector in a special feature soon).

Global VR – The American powerhouse came to IAAPA making an all-out effort be crowned king of video amusement developers. The company had the full configuration range of their ‘EA Sports NASCAR Racing’ (PC Hardware), with the standard, the deluxe and the new full motion special cabinet. The machines were in link-up mode and made for a very crowded booth full of players during the show; the incredible price point on the cabinet configuration fuelling a lot of interest. Also on the booth, the attractions industry got to see ‘Americas Army’ (PC Hardware) and ‘Alien Extermination’ (PC Hardware).

IMON – The American division of the Taiwanese motion-simulation manufacturer chose IAAPA’07 to launch the latest software version of the ‘iGO’ (PC Hardware) motion hardware package. Running the popular Panzer tank action consumer game experience – this latest version offers for the first time networked tank combat. The new version allows fast-paced action with the players working as a team to race to the next level of action. On display at the event was also a modified version of the hardware platform that included a repeat screen – developed for an operator; the addition has proven so popular that it is being included in the latest designs.

The small motion system market has gained moment since the days of the Tsumo platform. IAAPA saw the launch of a new two-person, low-cost passive simulator. This one comes from SimuLine – the company famous for their Cycraft arcade-simulator for SEGA. The new product, ‘Mini Ride 2’, runs a series of special motion ride films based on the unique hanging motion system. The Korean company is launching the simulator through their relationship with key distributors at a competitive price point. The company was also involved in an announcement to develop the Total Reality Racing ‘Race Car of Tomorrow, Today’ (RCOT), a project receiving R&D funding for the US Army.

Incredible Technologies – An appearance at IAAPA has become a regular occurrence for IT, having read the writing on the wall before many in the amusement sector and focusing on the wider sector of opportunities. The golf, bowling and Bag range of titles were on display – the company attempting to build momentum in their latest releases. Across the booth and spare parts operation Happ Suzko had a sleek design for a new cabinet they will be selling for the BAGS and Golden Tee range of products, the home application of the games becoming as important as the Hospitality and Amusement.

Merit Entertainment – Another corporation benefiting from the popular traffic generated in the amusement association corridor, the company showed its latest version of touchscreen bar-top platforms with game software updates. One new system on the booth was the prototype of the ‘Firefly’ (PC Tablet) system. The use of PC Tablet technology in the Hospitality / Amusement sector is in the preliminary stage. A Merit executive confirmed that though the software transition from bar-top to Tablet was simplistic and 90% complete the actual final external design, docking interface, Card / Bill acceptor and proximity cut-off firmware all need to be nailed down. Merit expects have a workable production prototype presentation next year (just in time for ASI’08).

A number of touchscreen systems were on display at IAAPA – the Canadian VirtuaPlay showed their latest version of the ‘Intevo’ (PC Hardware) – Internet bar-top system. The company has been gradually improving and refining the platform, and had a version of the child based version on display. JVL also came to IAAPA with a selection of their Retro and conventional systems – those guests leaving the Orlando area by plane would have been able to see the installation of JVL terminals within the airport and a new style of entertainment package.

Namco America – The US division of the Japanese powerhouse – the Bandai Namco brand flew high from the company’s booth. Namco chose to use the Orlando event to launch an 80% complete version of what will be 2008’s major amusement and consumer release, ‘Tekken 6’ (PS3 Hardware). The game was a momentous appearance, though squirreled away, and missed (or dismissed) by those operators that populated the show. The list of firsts that the hi-tech brawler represents includes – the first HDD amusement cabinet – the first PlayStation 3 arcade variant – and the first use of Japanese arcade ‘Nori Cabinet’ in North America.

Namco executives who spoke to TSR were using the launch to gauge serious operator interest in bringing over what will be a very expensive and difficult game genre. Many will remember the big revenues they made out of the last Tekken title – but this latest version will be under pressure from the imminent release of the consumer PlayStation 3 release, and the use of complicated IC Cards and Japanese style cabinetry. Namco poured cold water on speculation that T6 would be available as a kit. This will be a HDD only game, supporting a powerful hardware environment. This reasoning means that Namco USA is still testing the waters, attempting to learn how popular the game would be beyond the hardcore player base.

Breaking Stinger News – TSR was one of the first news outlets to break the first USA appearance of the Tekken franchise at IAAPA. Soon after, the Internet got very busy with player forum activities focusing on this news, with YouTube videos posted and detailed evaluations of the 80% version. Namco executives have worked hard to support player interest, with the FAQ for the last game written by a Namco America technical staff member. How much this will force SEGA USA’s hand to launch ‘Virtua Fighter 5’ (LindBergh) to compete – offering a cheaper high profile brawler — is unknown, though this omission will prove telling in player commitment.

Back at IAAPA, Namco gave a major potion of their booth to the driver – ‘Maximum Tune 3’ (System 256). The game in a four-machine configuration was similar to the cabinet setup seen at Preview’08 and AMOA’07. It proved popular during the show. Namco executives said once they get operators to test the setup, the operators never look back. The price of the four-machine configuration is giving stiff competition to the vast driving lineup in the market. Also on the booth, Namco placed ‘Mario Karts: Arcade GP 2’ (TriForce) offering a simple impulse player for all ages. While a twin version of the Taito driver ‘Chase H.Q. 2’ (Type-X+) was also placed on the show booth, there was no information on the current structure of the Taito Namco America distribution relationship. It’s a matter of curiosity, especially with changes to be announced from Banpresto, Taito and Bandai Namco in the coming weeks.

Namco America has achieved more autonomy to develop their own games than any other Namco satellite amusement operation. Along with the ‘Bowl-O-Rama’ (PC Hardware) game title, the pleasantly designed bar-top ‘Pac-Man 25th Anniversary Edition’ (Proprietary Hardware) was seen following its AMOA’07 release. Namco executives were keen to promote the machine, originally only seen as a Rec-Room consumer system, the new amusement version with a Bill acceptor was an amazing piece of retro development.

Breaking Stinger Report –Namco Bandai Games America on Nov. 21 announced legal action against USA company Eagle Distributing. It was stated that a lawsuit had been filed due to Eagle’s violation of NBG Intellectual Properties – especially the Pac-Man brand. Papers were still be evaluated at the time of going to the wire – but Stinger sources suggested that the games the company distribute including the ‘Garagantugame’ and ‘Classicade’ systems, have been running multiple classic games – and in their arcade version have impacted Namco America sales of their own classic systems. This is the latest instance of legal action against those accused of sailing fast-and-loose with IP from the retro scene.

Retuning to the Namco IAAPA booth – in conversation with Namco America, TSR was given a glimpse of the hard work behind the scenes that Namco’s R&D in the USA undertake to create a series of new releases specific to their territories needs. The latest children redemption video game ‘Family Bowl 2’ (PC Hardware) was on display, developed by Universal Space for Namco, the concept was based on a Namco property and via extensive negotiation hopes to be as popular as its predecessor in the market.

Breaking Stinger News – As was leaked in our Preview’08 coverage, Bandai Namco was about to announce far-reaching management and operational changes. The first of these was officially confirmed with the announcement that Bandai’s division Banpresto, which has split its operation between amusement titles and home console, was part of a stock buy-up. The division will now focus wholly on amusement titles. Its efforts will be absorbed wholly into Bandai Namco Games, into BNG’s own game division. This will be the first of a number of new divisions that will be retained by Bandai Namco including Bandai Visuals and Bandai Networks.

Banpresto’s assimilation into the group will also see Namco take control of the amusement venues ‘Pleasure Cast’ and ‘Hana Yashiki’ in Japan. These will be combined with the 400+ Namco amusement facility division. What will happen to the amusement titles in development is unknown at this point, but speculation is that they will automatically be sold exclusively through Namco subsidiaries. However if this will mean international sales was yet to be revealed. The Banpresto operation is the leading supplier of the popular GunDam franchise from Bandai into the amusement scene. These organizational changes could mean a wider deployment of GunDam, including the unique simulator system.

Returning to IAAPA’07, beyond the amusement trade’s own specific floor zone of developers, the exhibit floor also included booths by many other amusement manufacturers. IAAPA 2007 also included one of the largest gathering of Asian amusement developers at a US event, with some surprising developments

Tecway Development – The Taiwanese coin-operated machine developer has been a major player in the Korean and Taiwan market, and some of their original developments have made international landfall. Tecway sees this year as their time to break into the international circuit. The company had their ‘Pirates Revenge’ (PC Hardware) on the SEGA booth, and also on their own, the pirate game offering a compelling redemption package. Another child-based video amusement title was ‘Ghost Hunter’ (PC Hardware) – a machinegun shooter set in various cartoon-style haunted locations. Another redemption product showed the maturing of the development resources from this territory.

A strong BeMani-style title on the company’s booth was ‘Drummer Championship’ (PC Hardware) – a popular and compelling game building off of the success of previous IGS drum based games in the American scene. Another unusual game was ‘Revenger’ (PC Hardware), a game that had players pounding cartoon characters with a mallet to corresponding clues. The company also had a selection of their kiddie rides at the booth. One that stood out was an interactive tank game called ‘Funny Tank’ (PC Hardware). The simplistic tank ride hid one of the best tank simulator games seen since the iGO system – a compelling game that seemed of a higher sophistication than the normal kiddie ride.

Universal Space Amusement – How important the Taiwan and Korean amusement development scene is to filling the stocking of a number of the amusement developers was also illustrated by UNS. The booth at IAAPA was shared with IGS representation, the company’s making a strong showing. It was interesting to see games that were on other manufacturers’ booths that were from UNS. ‘Pirates Revenge’ (PC Hardware) was on the Tecway and SEGA booth – though there was still some confusion on what was owned by whom with IGS’ name on the box. Other new releases included ‘Battle Force’ (PC Hardware) – a unique redemption game using physical tokens that the player shoots at a screen. Game play had elements similar to the Coastal Amusements ‘Sea Wolf’ game. One of the final big shows from the company was ‘Family Bowl 2’ (PC Hardware), straight from the Namco booth.

Andamiro USA – An example of a company from the Asian sector establishing a prominent foothold in the international scene. At IAAPA the company showed their range of interesting redemption systems, but in the video amusement sector it is the success of their Dancing Stage style products that have rocked the market. They had on booth ‘Pump It Up NX2: Next Xenesis’ (PC Hardware), the latest contender for the music gaming crown. Betson Konami claims they will retake the throne with the new Dance Dance Revolution system, but they will have a hard struggle against the popular Andamiro title.

LAI Games – The well known manufacturer of the popular Stacker Prize vending game and other innovative products did not disappointed those visiting their Booth. Out of the number of high Quality games on display such as ‘Stacker & Super Strike Bowling’, LAI also showed a ‘TimeBuster Prize’ vendor, a game that has been reportedly tested in US locations with results that equal Stackers performance. A new Kids Ticket Redemption game, ‘Chuckle the Clown’, developed for FEC locations catering for the 3-6 year old was an instant hit with Operators who brought their kids to LAI’s booth. ‘Little Master Piece’ (PC hardware) is another innovative game that lets Kids draw images on a touch screen and then printout their painting in stunning colors, ready to frame with the artist’s name and the date of their work, the printout frame can also be location customized with Company logo and location details.

American Alpha – The developer and distributor came to IAAPA with a suite of new titles – as seen at ASI’07 and Open Day the children’s bowling game ‘Go Go Strike’ (PC Hardware) was shown – also the children’s shoot-em-up ‘Pirate Pete’ (PC Hardware) both developed by Paoki Electronics. The company also had a number of “kiddie-redemption” games, giving another example of the new areas of development existing in amusement.

TrioTech Amusement – Sitting on the fine line between amusement and attraction, the Canadian corporation had one of the most influential exhibitions in its history. The main push was the launch of the ‘UFO Stomper’ (PC Hardware) video amusement product. As previously leaked in the Stinger, the system uses a Interactive Floor technology (see coverage in Stinger #596) – with children (of all ages) playing a series of 10 mini-games in one, two, three and even four player action, (the four-player game has the players in each corner in an intense experience).

The 70% complete game system uses a special twin-projection, top-down display (to negate shadows), with the players’ movements on the surface registered by a unique under-floor interface. The machine had a redemption dispenser and with the large UFO roof made a unique and compelling platform. In an early package there was concern that the machine only charged for one player in two player games, and that the height restrictions of some venues may play a part in the final platform design – but these were minor concerns about what is widely expected to be a popular machine.

In fact, ‘UFO Stomper’ was hailed by many as the video amusement game of the show. Prominent sales executives of the major amusement factories visited the booth, leading to high-level agreements to test the game, with an eye towards possible distribution deals. Stinger representatives were able to speak with the TrioTech executive team, which confirmed that they were working on a suite of games for the system. They also confirmed that the completed system would be launched officially at ATEI’08, and that they would take their own booth for the second year running. The use of Interactive Floor technology caused some interest regarding patents – though TrioTech as always had worked hard on a completely unique presentation of the application, one that is fully owned by the Canadian powerhouse.

Beyond the amusement projects (with ‘Ballistics’ and the ‘Mad Wave’ units on booth), TrioTech has continued to develop their 3D – 4D theatre business. The company’s ‘The Adventures of Jett & Jin 3D’ motion ride film has now been licensed in two versions for distribution on non-TrioTech theatre systems by the leading film distributor nWave (see a report on their booth at IAAPA’07). TrioTech are still feeling their way in the sector, having installed a number of mid-sized attractions, though still no news of their aspirations for the mobile version of the XD theatre.

The importance of the distributor was still self-evident at IAAPA, though the actual separation between operator, manufacturer and developer seems very blurred.

H. Betti Industries – The Betson operation was represented at IAAPA with a big booth – the games fell into two categories, those developed by Betti affiliates and partners and those to be distributed by Betson. Raw Thrills had the full selection of their ‘Fast and the Furious’ range with SuperBike and Drift, (the company offering an Instant Rebate on the driver at the show). The Play Mechanics division showed the ‘Big Buck Hunter Pro – Online’ (PC Hardware) system running the ‘Coin-Up’ tournament environment and league system. The Stinger spoke with Betson executives about the success of their Big Buck Coin-Up version. Betson revealed strong interest with tavern owners happy with the capital sales generated from the league version – Betson is working on promotion through liquor companies to jointly promote using the tournament element of the game.

Most of this was seen at AMOA’07, but there were some changes. Further back in the booth a Deluxe Edition machine had been shipped of the Konami horror shooter ‘Silent Hill: The Arcade’ (Proprietary Hardware). (A standard upright version had been shown at the earlier AMOA Expo.) The bringing of a full (Japanese) cabinet did justice to the atmospheric blaster, and it was thought the sub-standard converted standard cabinets shown at the amusement show had been abandoned on Konami’s request. Konami also had their ‘Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova 2’ (Proprietary Hardware) – the availability for operators to get their hands on the Konami releases represented by Betson – the BeMani game under stiff competition from Andamiro in the US.

Side Note – PlayMechanix was also represented on the Laser Star Amusements booth, having developed the redemption attraction shooting game ‘Doc’s Interactive Shootout’ (PC Hardware) that took the usual lightgun animatronics shooter and created a video alternative for different venue sizes. PlayMechanix, in its role as a keen third party developer, was also represented on the Global VR booth, having developed the ‘Aliens Extermination‘(PC Hardware) shooter before being merged with Raw Thrills.

Coastal Amusements – The influential redemption and midway manufacturer wowed IAAPA with what many said was the redemption video game of the show. On booth for the first time the company showed ‘Sea Wolf’ (PC Hardware), a 2007 video game re-development that harkens back to the Midway 1976 original. This new took the original periscope submarine B&W game brings it into the 21st Century. A new sitdown system with (with subwoofers in the bench seat), plus a periscope control linked to 3D graphics on a flatscreen, created a wow with operators. Compelling content with redemption was what many operators are looking for, the only cloud on the horizon being sticker- shock from the machine’s high price. The appearance of this game at the ATEI’08 event will be an interesting chance to see if this popularity is transatlantic, and how much of the interest is operator nostalgia or a serious money-generating opportunity.

Brady Distributing – The prominent American operation had a strong showing at the show. A major part of the booth was dominated by the two-person passive simulator from UK-based FX Simulation, and an animated Tecway Dinosaur. FX Simulation having created a suite of films and a simulator package for amusement venue application – Brady is the exclusive distributor. The company also brought to IAAPA’07 some unique amusement pieces from Korea. Previously mentioned in our AOU’07 coverage, the game ‘Pang Pang Paradise’ (PC Hardware), developed by Interpark Games, offers a fast and fun plastic ball-throwing game, the players having to hit opponents on a interactive screen (reminiscent of the Konami ball-throwing game). Next to this was ‘YoYo Baseball’ (PC Hardware) from Vogos, another Korean based company (PC Hardware) – a motion tracking baseball game with the player swinging a special bat; The ball literally floats up and down on air in the strike zone allowing the batter time to hit the ball into the target area for their score. It has an accumulating Jackpot feature for those good enough to tackle the high score. Brady is in a position to test these machines into the market where their Asian manufacturers would find it daunting.

Brady also showed, to much excitement, their new ‘Photo Finish’ which is a three player roll down with a large flat screen. This simplifies and reduces the size of the very successful horse racing roll downs. This piece was one of the best received at the show.

The creative application of new technology into the amusement sector was best illustrated by the development of Color Separation Overlay (CSO – also known as Blue Screen or Chromeakey) technology. This facilitates the creation of booths that allow the player’s head to be superimposed over an animated character(s) that dance to the music of various tracks. The first system to be deployed with this hardware was from Korean developer K-River Entertainment, and jointly developed for application with amusement distributor Brady. The ‘Let Me Dance’ experience has taken some time to get right, being previewed in 2006, but is only now being fielded – but has proven its earning capability.

Let Me Dance, has had a difficult birth, especially in the need for Brady and K-River to get licenses for the use of music properties featured in the game, and creating a reliable and compelling vending booth system. The machine’s completion comes just as the market for this type of systems becomes crowded with new hopefuls.

It is always amazing how one idea will appear on a number of developer’s booths. This year’s most emulated idea was the CSO technology. Systems comprised EuroLink Design’s ‘Dance Heads’, on another there was the ‘Pop Noggins’, on a forth there was the ‘Boogie Boddies’, and on a fifth there was the ‘Videoke Star’. The majority of these systems used a CSO system, with music and dancing Avatars on a screen with a recorded takeaway. Some of these systems were just free-standing attractions used similarly to the park photo attractions, but a number of these systems (such as Dance Heads) were deployed in special coin-operated booths. The ‘Dance Heads Recording’ (PC Hardware) system was brand new prototype (the paint still wet on the show model) – the company claiming the system as “the hottest New coin Operated interactive video booth!”

The question is – with all these similar technologies will we find ourselves in the middle of patent disputes? A second possible legal danger for these systems is the ownership of the music used. As mentioned, Brady has spent considerable time and money to ensure the legal usage of the music. The danger is that improper usage of music could see the wrath of the music industry fall upon developers for violating IP rights, Questions to a number of developers regarding the ownership of intellectual properties received no answers, but will be sure to be addressed in the coming weeks.

…Finally, New Amusement Innovation

Most of the interesting products on the show floor came from major (long-established) amusement manufacturers. However, two notable new developments from start-up developers proved a pleasant surprise, proving there is still interest in new concepts:

SlamBots – Two-Payer coin-operated robot combat game, using technology familiar from the redemption car driving market, this new concept builds on an interest for robots in amusement.

Aerr-Ball – Best described as an air based foosball style game, the innovative design and compelling game experience will prove to be a big hit for the first manufacturer that licenses the hardware.

The Stinger’s second part of the IAAPA’07 coverage – looks at the application in the Attraction sector on the show floor.


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