We are at an interesting crossroads in the arcade industry at the moment. The argument about the role of the distributor in the industry is nothing new, as proof Play Meter Magazine asked operators the question of if they would prefer to go completely direct or not a couple of years ago when gathering information from them for The State of the Industry annual report. And according to that report, a number of small operators liked the idea of going direct and now with certain games becoming difficult to find through official sources (such as Tekken 6), those operators that can foot the cost need somewhere to turn to to obtain these games. In keeping with Arcade Heroes informative style, Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report lists the three most popular routes to get your hands on… the three most popular amusement releases!
Filling the Void! – Buying Direct!
We are at an interesting crossroads in the arcade industry at the moment. The official powers of the amusement distribution network in North America seems to have abandoned the independent operator for a the gamble of enticing the large chain venues – in this climate the Japanese factories have found it impossible to entice any interest in their core (hardcore) titles, in particular with fighters to hit the market in recent times. Of course much of this hindrance comes from the high costs of these games, but if an independent operator wishes to get their hands on one of these games, where are they to go?
If you want to (as an operator) to cash in on the phenomenal earning potential of some of the hottest amusement titles in recent history, you will have to forego usual amusement distribution chains and go direct! Here are three popular sources to go direct with:
CoinOp Express – A well known amusement only online distributor of international products. The Hong Kong based operation has placed the cat amongst the pigeons by being one of the first to have Capcom’s ‘Street Fighter IV’ available for Pre-Order: http://www.coinopexpress.com/products/pcbs/kit/Street_FIghter_4_kit_7558.html
The operation has been supporting the underground amusement scene by making available ‘Tekken 6’ kit Pre-Order, the majority of new T6 machines in the USA coming from this source: http://www.coinopexpress.com/products/pcbs/kit/Tekken_6_kit_7205.html
While the company has also had on sale the ‘Tekken 6’ full cabinet available for acquisition: http://www.coinopexpress.com/products/machines/dedicated_machines/Tekken_6_Arcade_Machine_7426.html
Finally they also will be carrying kits for BlazBlue and KOF XII, which are listed for release later this year.
National Console Support – Not all of the movement in kits of the hottest games comes from amusement manufactures – companies such as NCS, based in America offering a handle to consumer buyers wanting all things Asian has know found a new market and have started to take orders for ‘Tekken 6’ kit Pre-Order: http://www.shopncsx.com/streetfighterivpcbkit.aspx
The Stinger recently approached the owners of the company and discussed what difficulty they had found in operating in the amusement sector. They confirmed that they mainly supplied to private players, though amusement venues had suddenly beating a path to their door when it was revealed that Namco in America was not selling T6.
NCS also revealed that they were looking into the opportunity of selling other highly anticipated amusement titles that would normally not get a look-in. These could include the Capcom release of SFIV and also the SNK-Playmore releases of the recent King of Fighters.
Arcade Shock – Stockist for the hardcore gaming sector, previously ignored by the amusement scene have suddenly become extremely popular. However as the hardware in question for the latest releases is extremely specialized the more the operator who wants to cash in on the opportunity needs to specialize.
The American Capcom and SNK-P private collector specialist is a good example. The company has been selling a large selection of the original arcade platforms for home players to have authentic versions of popular amusement pieces – now the company is finding an interest in the current hardware.
AS is now in the process of selling Taito Type X² hardware and is positioning itself to sell the Capcom and SNK-P new fighters seen at AOU this year to operators and home gamers: http://www.arcadeshock.com/items/taito-arcade-hardware-and-software/taito-type-x2-hardware-with-kof-mira-ttypex2kofmira-detail.htm
Finally, the question has to be asked – that if a large enough amount of operators decide to go direct – buying their hardware from Hong Kong and Asian shippers, and a steady market grows for these games, that had previously been turned down by conventional amusement distributors… why do we need distributors?