We have been following the progress of the Eugene Jarvis and Housemarque collaboration since it was first announced. That collaboration turned out to be a Robotron 2084-like game by the name of Nex Machina. Nex was released last week to PCs and the Playstation 4 home console and has been earning some glowing reviews from the home console game press and users alike.
About a year ago, Housemarque teased that “The Jarvis Project” (codename for Nex Machina) would be finding some sort of arcade version – at least they were testing the concept with no promises made. Fast forward to April this year and a preliminary mock-up of a Nex Machina arcade cabinet appeared in an Engadget article as well as the tweet I linked to there.
This week, Housemarque continued to mention the possibility of an arcade version, as we saw with this tweet:
While we keep dying and retrying at the face of Nex. Eugene is in his basement thinking if hardcore cabinets could still have a market…? pic.twitter.com/lNfd3GAVMV
— Housemarque (@Housemarque) June 26, 2017
(Quick, who can spot the rarest game in his collection? 😉 )
To that I brought up pricing and kits, to which Housemarque replied that they are looking into options as well as a possible Kickstarter or pre-orders.
Then today, the Housemarque team and Eugene held an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit where users could ask the crew whatever it is that they wanted.
For our interest in arcades, Twitter and Reddit user Dahrkael asked “Will you release a dedicated cabinet version for use in arcades (maybe partner with raw thrills?)?”. For Eugene’s response:
I followed up with a question about the arcade version of the game along with something more personal and he kindly responded:
So, there you have it. Nex Machina, in some form, will be popping up in arcades. We’re not sure when it will happen yet but if they have got the cabinet design figured out then I can’t imagine that the software side will take a terribly long time to complete given that the console version is finished. Best guess until we hear otherwise – we’ll see it at IAAPA 2017, which takes place the week before Thanksgiving.
The big question though, as discussed above, is this something that the present FEC-focused arcade market would go for? Arcade games have become very casual in recent times, to the chagrin of many of us who were weaned on skill, difficulty and challenge. They’ve become casual and easier (or if you will, dumber) because that is a guaranteed way to make money. Places that are more into retro/classic arcade games either won’t touch anything that is recent out of dedication to their theme or they don’t want to spend the asking prices that new games tend to go for (average at the moment I would say is around $8500~). Some classic remakes like Galaga Assault have sold for decent prices (around $6000) while Space Invaders Frenzy goes for twice that…a hard thing for some locations to swallow.
I personally think that price will end up playing the biggest role here – a kit option would be a great way to hedge the bet although there aren’t too many modern upright cabinets that would look good as a conversion in the US market. Most of the upright stuff out there are JAMMA cabs from the 90s.
— Housemarque (@Housemarque) April 14, 2017
(The only potential cabinet design we have seen of the Nex Machina Arcade cabinet. As Eugene mentioned on the AMA, it still uses large flight stick style controls)
Still, I don’t think that it is an impossible feat for a hardcore game in today’s market to be successful. Raw Thrills has great brand recognition in this business at the moment. All of their games that I have owned have paid themselves off and then some. An outstanding cabinet design can make a lot of difference for any title and the game will have some name recognition thanks to the home release. We’ve seen quite a few games make the console-to-arcade leap in recent times and they’ve seen varied success – my Blazing Angels by GlobalVR is amazingly consistent on how well it does despite having been released 10 years ago. I do hope that the arcade software to Nex Machina will also be different enough to also stand out but at the end of the day it’s about offering fun. A fun game with a good cabinet tends to be a recipe for earnings.
Enough of my rambling about it – what do you think? For those operators out there, how do you feel about seeing a new Robotron-like game on the modern market? Would you buy it?