(I tried to put a picture up but WordPress is having issues yet again and it’s not working)
Here is an interesting contrast we find about the arcade scene in it’s current state from two different news sources. The first talks about an arcade in Toronto called Funland Games and the decline in business they’ve seen over the years and the second discusses recent news from AOU and how developers are adapting to the situtation to bring new blood on the scene. The 2nd article even begins with the line: “Step aside Wii, it’s time for telescopic fist simulation” (referring to Konami’s new title called Byon Byon Action). In one article it appears that there is no light at the end of the tunnel for arcades while the other states the opposite. What the first article fails to mention is the existence of new games to the scene as well as new developments around the globe that are finding ways to combat the supposed “Anti-Arcade Wii-effect” (which I believe is way overexaggerated seeing how the games that are arcade ports or arcade-like in nature on the Wii tend to suck with the exception of something like Wii Sports). Of course from the arcade mentioned in the 1st article it appears that they don’t have any new games – just a lot of classics and a few games from 6 or 7 years ago. They also have a government that like too many other cities enable anti-arcade laws because of baseless fears and backwards thinking.
Of course it’s not something so simple to discuss when it comes to the situation as a whole in the industry. It’s important to remember that the arcade is not dead. That is something we say pretty much every day here because it’s true. If there was no arcade market, there would be no arcade game development. Events like ATEI and AOU would have been completely empty. Take pinball as a good example – a market that remains alive despite the fact that pinball hasn’t been well-marketed to the masses. Many people have no idea that new pins hit the scene. The 1st article mulls over the fact that no one comes into play the pins but that causes me to wonder – does this particular arcade business market itself in it’s local area via TV, radio, billboards, mailed flyers, the internet or any other means on a regular basis? If they do, do they hold competitions and advertise those? This is a nagging issue I see often – a lot of arcades that are run by people who were running them back in the late 70’s and early 80’s seem to think that while times change their market strategy should not. Every arcade has benefits for gamers no matter what line-up of games they own – whether it be social or competitive. You cannot let arcade developers market for you like they did in the early 80’s when all you had to do was put the latest game in your arcade and every one knew about the game already. As operators WE have the responsibility to get the word out now – relying solely on word-of-mouth is not a smart strategy anymore. Of course the developers have a part in helping the operator – they might make an entertaining, original and innovative game but that means nothing if the only business that can possibly afford it is a large FEC or if the only way to get one is to import it (which is even more expensive). The trend I see however is that developers are beginning to understand that – GlobalVR, Raw Thrills’, Incredible Technologies and Sega (to a smaller extent) have begun bringing prices down. I just saw on a distributor site that the brand new Silver Strike Bowling 2009 is going for a decent $5000 and this is a game that most certainly will not be showing up on the Wii a month from now. I still believe that there is room for improvement on pricing but either way it’s becoming more reasonable and fewer games are seeing ports over to the game consoles than they used to.