Who plays at the arcade in Japan and why? (UPDATED)

arcadehero November 30, 2010 15

Club Sega, Akihabara

(UPDATED: thanks to one of our readers who translated a couple of the charts for us into English, they are posted below).

Market data for the amusement industry is sometimes hard to come by, but it’s not impossible to find. Trade magazines such as Replay Magazine or Play Meter often carry useful data about the market whether it’s machine earnings or overall data as we see in Play Meter’s State of the Industry reports which show thousands of locations operating arcade equipment in the US alone. There also was a German study about the US amusement industry that suggested $10.5 billion in sales by 2015 and recently amusement industry expert Kevin Williams reported that he figured that more arcade titles are in operation in the US today than were running in the “Golden Age” of arcade gaming in the early 80’s. Despite that some people continue to believe the myth that arcades are dead everywhere except Japan but perhaps when enough facts get out there, that perception will begin to change.

Sadly the poll we’ll discuss today won’t be helping the argument for arcades outside of Japan very much but it’s still interesting to look over. This was published by a Japanese internet research company called MyVoice, who gathered data from nearly 12,000 people earlier this month on the subject of arcades. Some of the details are not translated by the online interpreter but we can get a pretty good idea of what is going on. For starters, of the 11,830 people questioned, 39% play games in arcades with 11.3% attending an arcade more than once a month. Looking deeper into the numbers, younger people will head to the arcade more often but a large majority of respondents in this poll are over the age of 30 (as a side note, Taito has stated that one reason they are doing Darius Burst Another Chronicle is to bring players from the 30-40 age range back into arcades). Only 191 teens were questioned out of the 11,830, which seems a little disproportionate, even given Japan’s older population. I think that point is worth highlighting as the story spreads around the internet – it would be equally interesting to see how console gamers treat that medium as they age and whether their interest in games holds. Here is a chart showing how often respondents visit Japanese arcades.

Players who do go to arcades there love crane and “medal” games which is something that is prevalent pretty much anywhere you go. Reasons why they go to the arcade are interesting for the insight as well: 46.2% go to kill some time; 46.1% also go for the social interaction found at the arcade. Some negative impressions about arcades were also given by respondents – many thought that arcades are “too expensive” and “noisy”. It certainly doesn’t help operators in Japan that some games cost over a million yen either. I’ve heard before that the reason why arcades do so well in Japan compared to elsewhere is location and culture but these responses could probably be found anywhere else in the world, regardless of the culture in a given geographic area. Here’s a chart showing what games are played the most with prize redemption coming out on top, just like it does everywhere else.

If you want to check the poll out, along with some charts, here’s the link. And if anyone can give us a translation of some the lines on the charts, that would be greatly appreciated.

So what about you? If you go to the arcade, why do you do it? If not, then why don’t you go? What would drive you to go?

[Via AM-Net]


  1. RJAY63 November 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Here’s an important, but less obvious reason why I still visit the arcade: I don’t drink. Unintentional, but they’ve helped me stay completely dry throughtout my teenage and young adult life. Why didn’t I move on to bars and clubs like my peers?….because I was having too much fun in the arcade!

    • arcadehero December 1, 2010 at 8:36 am - Reply

      I’ve had people try and convince me to turn my place into a bar since before I started. But I’ve never had any interest in opening up a bar, I wanted to own an arcade.

  2. editor December 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    What a surprise – information on a downturn in attendance and it gets more coverage than the news of SEGA’s increase in amusement business!!? Any chance you guys will cover the Namco news of amusement business up?

    Let’s call a spade a spade – the news of the AG version of Tekken7 and CvT (TvC) – the news about GRID, and the news about the ‘secret’ Konami AG release, all impact downward sales of consumer games and news of crumbling studio employment situation internationally.

    Do you guys really think that openly slagging amusement will stop the slide – or is there just anger that AG may make a comeback?

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