Review 2013: New Arcade Openings/Closures

arcadehero December 23, 2013 11

This has been a slow month for news, although in part I’m sure there are items I have just overlooked as I’ve been busy handling many other things in life and business (and several snow storms). As we reach the end of 2013, here is a look back at some stories that involve the openings of new arcade locations during the year. With over 40 games making their way for sale, manufacturers didn’t design the games entirely with home use in mind.

These stories do not reflect 100% of the openings around the world within this year. It only reflects what I found out about. Sometimes operators have reached out to me. Sometimes I’ve gotten lucky reading about a new place on a forum/Twitter/Facebook. The rest can open and I might not find out about it for a few months – or perhaps a year or two. It certainly is easier when the venue gets a website or Facebook page open. But if they skip that part, it makes it difficult to find out more about.

Openings – Quite a few stories in this category this year.

Namco Opening New Theme Park In Tokyo This Summer; JAEPO Website Launch

Namco Entertainment Launching Prototype Eatertainment Arcade Business In Near Future

Pins And Needles, A Pinball Museum In The Heart Of LA

New Arcade Open Tomorrow In Houston, TX: The Game Preserve

New Retro Arcade In Athens, GA – Flashback Games

New Arcade Opening in LA soon, XLanesLA + Saving Super Arcade

Location News For Goodge Street Casino Arcade, Gemini Arcade, Galloping Ghost, Arcade UFO + more

Sandy Hook Arcade Center Looking To Open Soon in Newtown, CT

Article: A Trip Through the London ‘Arcade Corridor’

News Blender: Chaos Generation, Sandy Hook Arcade opens, JAEPO 2013, Sega Racing Infographic + more

Begin the Week with Saving Rusty Quarters, Arcade UFO Re-opening & Mario Kart Arcade DX Footage

The Arcade Scene In Israel

Location News Europe: Heart of Gaming Opening In London, UK; Looking at Arcade Street & La Tête Dans Les Nuages, Paris FR

Location News USA: D & K Arcade in IL; Maks Family Fun Center in TX; 3rd Round 1 USA opening soon

Namco To Open 200 Amusement Centers For Teenage Girls 😉

Hunger For Amusement Proven At The Heart of Gaming In London, UK

LOADING SOHO Gaming Cafe Added To The MADD Bar In London

X-Lanes Launches In LA

Open In Ohio – Arcade Legacy

The Place Retro Arcade Opens In Cincinnati, OH

Backstage Retro Arcade Now Open in Ludington, MI

High Scores Arcade Relocates To Alameda, CA

The Museum Of Pinball in Southern California Launches A Kickstarter Campaign

New Round 1 USA Location Open In Lakewood Mall, CA; “Smaller, Badder, Meaner and Uncut”

Route 66 Arcade Museum Now Open in Atlanta, IL

Route 66 Arcade Museum Now Open in Atlanta, IL

16-Bit Bar+Arcade Opens In Columbus, OH; Asheville Pinball Musuem in Asheville, NC

Soon To Open Ann Arbor Pinball Museum Reaches Funding Goal

Two New Venues For Arizona: D&D Pinball Opens in Tucson; Flipside in Gilbert

Free Gold Watch Offers Classic Pinball and Video Arcade Gaming in San Fransisco, CA

The Sega Active Zone In Westfield Derby Shopping Centre, UK  – It’s not a huge location but its a little arcade goodness nonetheless.

Closures – Why a place closes can be due to many factors, of which we usually do not hear about in any great detail. Businesses are complex creations to build and manage and with anything complex even what appears to be a small issue to bring the whole operation down. Most businesses on average are lucky if they make it a year. When an arcade closes, reading into it as though it means certain doom for all locations everywhere is ludicrous, as though every arcade everywhere is in the exact same situation, with the same laws, same customers/demographics, same management, same games, same local economy, etc.  Either way, when an arcade closes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the concept at large can’t work. You can sink $1 million into a location but if it is poorly managed/maintained then it will fail. And that is true of any type of business.

Here are a few places that unfortunately bit the dust this year, that I have heard of at least.

Sega Park Southampton – This is an example of a situation that was really out of the arcade’s control – the landlords went bankrupt in 2011 and after a while, everyone was closed down, including Sega Park.

Goodge Street Casino – Not exactly sure on this one, it was sudden as far as I know.

National Pinball Museum – Closed due to issues with rent and landlords

Sandy Hook Arcade – When this opened as a “healing place” for families, they also made the unusual announcement that it was a temporary endeavor. It closed this same year.

Rusty Quarters Retro Arcade – Couldn’t pay rent. RQ made some headlines as they had a few events where they asked for donations to help handle those expenses but donations can never take the place of solid revenue. The reviews were mostly positive but a few did seem to indicate an ongoing issue with the operating hours which can also damage a reputation quickly when it is a consistent problem.

Japan Arcade – I just found out about this one today, thanks to reader CD ageS for the tip. The famous Japan Arcade closed about a month ago and it’s not exactly known why – just chalked up in rumors about it being the typical situation that seems to close arcades down in SoCal – lease is up and the new one they wanted too much money for.

So that’s it for now. I’m sure there will be many more places that are working on opening their doors in the near future, we’ll just have to wait and see what they have in store for us!


11 Comments »

  1. Arcades4ever December 24, 2013 at 4:29 am - Reply

    So all in all it’s been more positive in the arcade industry than bad. As soon as one arcade closes down then it’s an immediate indication and fact that arcades are a dying breed and no money to be made BUT what they seem to fail at (or rather shun them) is the mention of new games and new arcades opening up or even then least facilities that have arcades within the business establishment e.g. Bowling allies, family entertainment centres, shopping centres/malls, holiday/vacation places etc

    • chaos December 25, 2013 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      If you think the arcade industry is doing well overall then I hate to break the news to you but the arcade industry is on life support. I want arcades and coin ops to survive just as much as any other reader here but arcade games alone aren’t paying for the rent. If it weren’t for other things like redemption machines then most arcade manufacturers would have been out of business a long time ago. Most FECs and arcades would have closed without redemption games, pizza, mini-golf, etc. As much as I can’t stand most redemption games, I realize that they pretty much saved video arcade games from becoming extinct.

      • arcadehero December 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm - Reply

        Depends on where it is (customer base) and what the game selection is. Will 30 year old games pay the rent? Probably not, unless you have 300 of them (or rather, enough that keep people interested and you just happen to have a lot of games that potential regulars want, the exact version that they want and so on). I’ve said it over and over, but brand new games can and do make money and with several units, pay the bills. But they are much more expensive to get. And it seems some people don’t like hearing that Crystal Castles or Double Dragon won’t pull in $200 a week but maybe $5/mo if you’re lucky. Whereas something like Terminator Salvation will do $200/wk or at least it did (its starting to slow down a little but still strong, for me at least). Batman would have pulled more than that if it didn’t have the technical issue. Classic games are the comfort food of an arcade – I’ve had multiple people come into my arcade, look, comment on how cool it is that I have old games, and walk out without bothering to play and I never see them again. Or they will come and tell me how awesome it is that I’m doing something like this but they do the same thing – don’t play the games they think are cool. While that’s not a huge number of people that fit into these categories, there are indicative of a majority that are not going to come to a location on a regular basis to relive old memories. Most of the money that will be made is for making new ones. Classics can still play a little part of that but I think you have to rely on more than nostalgia to make it all work. Most locations have picked redemption/attractions to do that, a few others tournaments and such. Then we have other issues that make arcades suffer, its not just the games – landlords, local laws, management, maintenance, weather events, etc.

        • chaos December 26, 2013 at 7:42 am -

          I agree with you that it does really depend where the arcade location is. I really think its great that your arcade is thriving but I would say that your situation is more of an exception rather than the norm. The truth is that with any product, business or service it should be able to survive in almost any market. I know my posts come off as being very negative but I feel this is the reality that some people just don’t see. I personally would love to see a revival of arcades and co-op video games but so far nothing lately has convinced me that this will happen any time soon.

        • arcadehero December 26, 2013 at 10:16 am -

          Oh I get where you’re coming from on that and I recognize that the industry has massive hurdles to overcome. Plenty of those are of its own making. I think video can do well in any market but when it is given the backseat of the van to other attraction, of course it suffers. But when redemption takes the back seat then video has a chance to shine.

          Another problem too is that any of the real creativity, innovation or risk is happening in the redemption space. Almost none of it is taking place in the video-only market. If that were reversed and the arcade industry at large would actually like to market their wares to the public then the situation would be different, more favorable to video.

        • arcadehero December 26, 2013 at 10:44 am -

          Funny, right after I posted my last comment, a group of kids came into the arcade. They wanted tokens but then asked where the “prize games” were. I pointed out that we didn’t really have anything like Chuck E. Cheeses. I got the “awww” and they walked out – but came back a few minutes later and bought some coins. Maybe it was a little reluctant but they so far are now discovering games they enjoy. It’s a teeny-tiny victory for video but its something I suppose. Also it shows to me that kids can find entertainment in video if redemption isn’t distracting them from that with flashier lights.

  2. Dave_K. December 24, 2013 at 10:56 am - Reply

    In the SF Bay Area we had two unfortunate arcade closures this year: Gamecenter in San Mateo, and the long lived Starbase in San Rafael. 🙁

    • chaos December 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the updates. I didn’t hear about either of these closing and had them on my list of arcades to visit. Sad that I never made it to either of them especially StarBase since that has been around since the early 80s.

  3. Rick Medina December 24, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

    We had Final Round Arcade close in Miami, Florida this week.

  4. rickswove December 24, 2013 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    What the f***?! Japan Arcade included on closures?!?! unbelieveable, this is really terrible and I only been there once! such a terrible shame.

  5. MrsAnnee75 December 24, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    It’s a moot point now…but the link you included in the Rusty Quarters post takes you directly to the filtered reviews on Yelp…and the first filtered review was written by a person who created a fake Yelp account for the sole purpose of trashing us. He and his wife had a some wild hair up there butts about us from the very beginning. Even though he and his wife NEVER ONCE set foot in RQ they created fake accounts and wrote fake reviews on Yelp, Four Square, Trip Advisor and Google.
    As I said, it’s a moot point but seeing two years of killing ourselves summed up as “couldn’t pay rent” really stinks.

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