Namco Entertainment Launching Prototype Eatertainment Arcade Business In Near Future

arcadehero January 3, 2013 10
Namco Entertainment Launching Prototype Eatertainment Arcade Business In Near Future

Newsfeed 1281 via The Stinger Report

Hot on the heels of news that Namco will be opening up a new theme park in Tokyo later this year comes news that Namco Entertainment (which is the division of the company that deals with the various sites that are out there like Time Out and others) has plans in the US for a new kind of Eatertainment style business, one that features an upscale restaurant setting with the elements of eatertainment that fit into how they work with arcade games and the like.

According to the article at Polygon, the concept is still in its early stages so no fixed date yet but when it comes to pass, it will likely find a home in the Chicago area somewhere. I also imagine that it will be one place where you can find some of Namco America’s latest game offerings and could also prove as a facility for testing out other new concepts but we’ll have to wait and see on that to be sure.

namcoproto

[Via DNA Association News]

Also in one more piece of Namco facility news, the Namco Funscape Metroscentre in Gateshead, UK has been nominated for the “Access for All award at the North East England Tourism Awards”. The winners will be announced on January 31st but being on the shortlist for the awards at least is certainly something the staff there can be proud of. (Thanks to Kieran May for the tip on this one).

10 Comments »

  1. Neil Brimelow January 4, 2013 at 12:50 am - Reply

    I’m curious as to how this would differ from a F.E.C. like “Dave and Busters?” Not quite sure upscale food and arcade games in 2013/2014 really mix all that great. Well, at least not modern arcade games… I think the biggest stumbling block to opening such a venture is the arcade games themselves; most of which are watered down racing games with barely passable graphics, light gun games, and child gambling devices (redemption games).

    There isn’t a draw necessarily anymore to go to the arcades. In the past you had to go to the arcades if you wanted to not only play the newest games, but also have the best overall experience. Now that experience can be had on an iPhone, PSP, PS3, XBox 360, PC, Android phone/tablet, or iPad from the comfort of your own home.

    The only thing that would not be the same is Pinball. Pinball you have to play the actual machine. Emulations can be fun, but will never be the same as the real machine.

    Are people really going to get dressed up to go eat at a fancy restaurant and then go play “Big Buck Hunter 2014″
    “Terminator Salvation” and “Golden Tee 2014?” Places like Dave and Busters are good because they have a variety of stuff to do generally, and their food generally fits the overall feel of the place.

    Uprezzing the food quality won’t make the games anymore fun.

  2. editor January 4, 2013 at 6:50 am - Reply

    To try and address the main points Neil – this would no be a Family Entertainment Center (FEC) – even D&B dose not claim to be a FEC, preferring the Adult entertainment center (AEC) or Restaurant and Entertainment chain.

    The games for this facility will be upscale, and like the previous indoor amusement park projects, we can expect to see more attraction based gaming, along with re-packaged amusement products offering a upscale presentation.

    Regarding graphics, I think you are a little out of date – games like Storm Racer offer a racer that runs a 1080p presentation and is stunning – only a very few console games can achieve that and have to do it on a smaller screen format. Big Buck HD also offers a graphical presentation that is “better than home”. Look at TrioTech’s XD Dark Ride theater and compare this to a home game and already commentators are speculating that consumer gaming is now going to have to play catch up.

    I love the fact that already the consumer games media are making excuses for the XB720 and PS4, with phrases such as “…graphics not the only advancement from these planned systems”! Code words for “the graphics are not going to be that much better” – the PC sector is showing major advancements in photo realistic rending that we in the amusement scene are incorporating in 2013 CGi hardware. Where Gen-8 consoles seem to only plan a moderate update focused on connected development (and forcing players to buy online!)

    I think its best to look at the new developments in the Digital Out-of-Home Entertainment (DOE) sector, rather than play in the outdated perception of amusement. We have immersive simulation, high quality graphics, unique interfaces, motion simulation and tournament competition (with money) all to play with – I would argue a much more varied pallet than current console applications (explaining the 17% drop in sales, and amusements recent rise in revenue!)

  3. arcademaid January 5, 2013 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    I think someone just got told~

  4. Neil January 6, 2013 at 6:54 am - Reply

    D&B smartly caters to both the FEC and AEC markets, and their restaurant serves “TGIF” level food at a relatively affordable price. The question is if there enough money to be made in an upscale AEC paired with an upscale restaurant, and would such a pairing even work?

    My guess is no, it wouldn’t. Why? Because it is very difficult to open a successful upscale dining restaurant, let alone pair that with an AEC. There are movie theaters that do indeed pair an upscale menu with either an in theater dining setup, or a VIP area. But the movie is the draw, not the money maker. Profit margins are incredibly thin with upscale restaurants given their much higher ingredient, equipment, and staff costs. With movie houses (generally) the profit is made via the highly inflated popcorn, candy and drink sales.

    There is a dissonance between upscale food and the general attractions that would go into an AEC. That is to say who would this AEC+ cater to? Really rich people between the ages of 18-35 that don’t have kids?

    Furthermore, what games would populate an AEC+? Sure, full on motion simulators, and even “Battletech” mech games would/could work with an upscale AEC, but even if the restaurant quite literally had the best food in the entire food, it would not translate into money being made for entertainment end of the business. Also, such an AEC would have a generally short window to take advantage of both aspects of fine dining and games. A D&B can open at 8 A.M. and close at 4 A.M. and can theoretically make money during that entire time period because they are not pigeonholed into a different class of menu, or establishment. A slightly safer bet would be to incorporate a higher end restaurant alongside a more contemporary restaurant inside an AEC+, sort of like what casinos do.

    As for the arcade games of today, yes, they do make money, but to be quite honest arcades have been in a sort of stasis since the first Playstation was released and the arcade manufacturers realized it was easier and more profitable to dumb down the arcade experience for an easier (if not identical) home conversion. Namco continued this trend with their System 246/256 based on the PS2 hardware.

    Gone are the days of hardware innovation by the arcade manufacturers, and in a way, that’s fine. Other companies have come up with some incredible hardware and software solutions in the past twenty years, and now an (slightly proprietary) but “off the shelf” arcade system can be built and a much lower cost than developing a system from scratch. But therein lies another rub. Arcade manufacturers are NOT pushing the limits and haven’t for quite some time.

    Pushing the limits would be to put an i7 overclocked rig with a GTX 690 setup inside an arcade cab. But then you’re looking at about $1,700 just on the guts, let alone a monitor/speakers or anything else. None of the current arcade games come even remotely close to what a GTX 690 can do graphically, and to be honest, the arcade games should be EXCEEDING that by a factor of four at this point in 2013. We should be at motion picture quality by now.

    But instead we have games in the arcades that although look nice, and are in full HD, with 42 inch monitors, don’t offer anything that (graphically) exceeds the home experience as a whole. Namco’s “Dark Escape 4D” is a very neat experience, but the graphics are abysmal. Think I’m wrong? Go play “House of the Dead 4″ from 2005 and then play “Dark Escape 4D.” Virtually no difference.

    http://www.namcoamerica.com/game.php?gameid=37

    http://tinyurl.com/hod2005

    “Dark Escape” has better shader models, but is done in by very low poly count models that look a hair shade better than those in “Doom 3″. Yes, it has 3D, air blowers, shakers, movers, ticklers, and quadraphonic sound, but the graphics are poor and detract from the experience.

    It is ironic that pinball of all things is going through what appears to be a quasi-Renaissance with three new manufacturers entering the fray. And I have to applaud these manufacturers because pinball is something that has to live and die on its own in the arcade.
    Pinball also is something that is incredibly expensive to develop and manufacture with no failsafe. What I’m not seeing is any other video game manufacturer taking any real risks anymore with either pushing the envelope with graphics OR gameplay. The market is flooded with “mee too” Chinese no-name arcade games that look passable with 42 inch HD monitors paired with motion control, but ultimately have are an immediately forgettable and unsatisfying experience.

    The new home systems are probably only going to be an incremental step up from the previous generation, which is going to be a HUGE mistake for Sony and Microsoft if they release systems that are next gen+1, like Nintendo’s new Wii “2”. But the economy can’t necessarily support another new system launch above $399, so this is actually a chance for the arcades to once again gain some headway.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I’ve ALWAYS favored the arcade experience over the home experience. I love the arcades. I just haven’t seen much headway, or improvement in arcade games since the year 2000 either in the fun department, or the graphical department. Sure, times have changed, and the way people play games have changed, but the arcade should always provide a much superior game experience than one can get on an iPhone, or the home consoles, and that really isn’t the case right now.

    Here’s a slight taste of the (near) future.
    I doubt we’ll see 4K games in the arcades in the next seven years. It’s not the cost of the monitor (which will be expensive for the near future) it’s the cost of development, and arcade game makers barely even use textures and models that take advantage of 1080p. But hopefully that will change.

    http://www.gtplanet.net/gran-turismo-demo-at-4k-resolution-described-as-absolutely-stunning/

    • arcadehero January 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      I agree with most of what you mention there, although as I have brought up before, you are overlooking Big Buck HD. Like the game or not, graphically it stands out well above anything else on the market right now. It is a step in the right direction and I’m hoping that with 2013 others will try and catch up or beat it. At the very least I imagine that Play Mechanix’s next shooting game will look just as good if not better.

      I do think that 4K should be the area we look at but you do make the point that we aren’t seeing 1080p going anywhere yet so that’s a lot to ask. I would rather see 4K games than 3D however by a long stretch.

      As far as improvement in the fun department goes, I would recommend Dariusburst Another Chronicle but not sure what you really mean by that comment since fun can be an arbitrary thing to try and quantify. I mean, I found fun elements to various games like Hummer, Dirty Drivin, H2Overdrive, Operation GHOST, ReRave, Speed Driver 4, Power Truck or Storm Racer. Most of those are driving games which I am not the greatest fan of but they still managed to be fun games – not necessarily innovative with completely new concepts in every example but fun nevertheless.

    • Sam January 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      “Arcade manufacturers are NOT pushing the limits and haven’t for quite some time.”
      I can only speak for my company but we try to push the limits with all of our new games but creating a unique arcade gaming experience costs money. There’s always that line where you can create that unique and fun game but yet still make them affordable. Some things have to be left off.

      “don’t offer anything that (graphically) exceeds the home experience as a whole.”
      Arcade games can definitely have movie quality graphics running on overclocked CPUs but they all cost money. You’re comparing apples to oranges when you talk about PC/console games vs arcade games. They are two completely different business models (business to consumer vs business to business). Let’s play it safe and say it costs $5 million to develop a game. I’m just using simple math and not factoring anything else. At the standard $60 a copy for PC/console, they would need to sell about 83,333 units to break even. 3rd tier titles easily sell more than that in a year. It would take about 1,000 units to break even for an arcade game costing $5,000. Again, I’m taking manufacturing costs, etc. out just to be simple. 1,000 units is a decent number for the life of an arcade game.

      Another advantage that a consumer game has over an arcade game is that the hardware is already there. The player already owns the overclocked PC or 42″ HDTV. If an arcade game were to include all of the hardware bells and whistles along with the development/graphics to complement the hardware, things will start getting up there in price.

      In the end, we are constantly striving to push the limits in creating a fantastic arcade game, but development costs add up and you have to decide what to keep and what to discard to make it affordable. Cheaper games from China will also lower the price expectations.

  5. editor January 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I agree with you both – I am appalled by the low graphics that ‘Dark Escape’ and ‘Dream Rider’ were fielded with. Though I have yet to see 4K, a better than 1080p should be amusements domain.

    You look at the BattleMek ‘Tesla’ cabinets collimated display, and that has still to be bettered.I would say future AEC+ and LBE venues need to achieve that ‘unachievable@home’ performance in display, competition and interactivity.

    • Arcades4ever January 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      What?! Dark escape has lower graphics???? I knew that dream raiders has the crappy low ring wide board but I didn’t think dark escape would be the same. I expected it to have at least the same graphic qualit as dead storm pirates or does it? What hardware does dark escape use BTW

      • arcadehero January 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm - Reply

        No Dark Escape isn’t even close to Dream Raiders. It looked fine to me, pretty much on par with Deadstorm Pirates although not the same in that colors are muted in DE4D. The 3D effect also was pretty good, no blur or excessive scanlines (not the best 3D I’ve seen but certainly not the worst). We have to remember that judging games based solely on screen shots or hand held video is not the same as in person. True, DE4D does not reach the same level as the latest PC game with max settings but it handles 3D well and ran at a solid frame rate from what I witnessed. Not sure of what hardware it uses, I want to say PS3 based hardware but not 100% sure on that. It’s either been that or the ES1 PC hardware that has powered Dead Heat and Tank!Tank!Tank!

  6. editor January 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    DE – has same quality of graphics as DSP, but lowered as it has to create dual screen to support the 3D double render. Think it is the ES1PC system. Nailed down to be suitable for PS3 ports.

    Don’t get me wrong DE s ‘okay’ but not great as promised! And by no means as low as DR.

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