UPDATE: Arcade Infinity will NOT be closing on Jan. 15th and will stay open for now. Read the details here
I am always happy when I hear about a new arcade location opening their doors somewhere around the world (as we reported about in the post previous this one with two new Timezone locations opening up) – on the flipside I dread reporting an arcade closure for a couple of reasons. One reason is that it means people loose their jobs, players loose a place to play at and hang out, and someone’s dream comes to a close. It’s also depressing as often it seems that some in the gaming press are happy to jump on closure news while ignoring news of places that open.
This particular closure is bad news for arcade fans in southern California as this location has some history not just in the area but also in the US arcade scene at large. The location is Arcade Infinity, an arcade that was among the first locations to import Dance Dance Revolution to the US, something that changed the scene overall for many other locations and players. The have brought many other Bemani games to the US, such as Beatmania, they kept the games up-to-date and overall offered a unique experience to players. They also had games like BlazBlue and DJ Max Technika. Kevin Williams gets into more detail on the history of AI after the break. I offer a salute to the fine folks at Arcade Infinity and wish them the best of luck in future endeavors, whatever those might be. If you live in the area then the people of BemaniStyle.com are hosting a big get-together to celebrate everything AI has done over the past 10 years. Here is a video made by Jared Rea which gives a tour of the location from not too long ago.
Not all is lost however as close by a new company has opened their doors called Round 1. They offer a large selection of games and like AI they offer unique Bemani games. They are the only US location I know of to offer the latest versions of GuitarFreaks and DrumMania, along with specially made software for US users. I don’t know if the opening of Round 1 this past September was the final nail in the coffin for AI or not but at least players won’t be completely left out in the cold with them so close by.
Kevin Williams of The Stinger Report
News broken by the bemanistyle.com – that Arcade Infinity would close in the New Year. This famous So-Cal arcade venue is the latest arcade facility to close in the So-Cal territory – most recently the ‘Tokyo Game’ center, or the historically important ‘Southern Hills Golfland’ that closed a few years back. All these were ‘old school’ arcades that had a loyal following of players. No more than at ‘Arcade Infinity’, which was among first US location to import and operate a ‘Dance Dance Revolution‘ cabinet from Japan when no other distributor would consider it, responsible for starting the phenomenal rise of the genre outside of Japan – unsupported by the trade.
While many will point to this news as continued proof of the death of amusement – the reality is that amusement still plays an important part in the heart of the So-Cal entertainment area – one of the many venues that now captures the Out-of-Home entertainment hunger for the social gaming experience – is the ‘Round 1’ bowling and entertainment complex – less than a few miles from the Arcade Infinity location. Opened this year in So-Cal, a facility based on the Japanese model that comprises more arcade pieces in one place than the three or four older closed arcades combined and is incredibly popular!
But also in the catchment of where the Arcade Infinity stood is a Speedzone, Chuck E Cheese, Gameworks (still operational), and Nickel Nickel 5 Cent Games amusement chains; along with another major bowling facility (AMF) and countless cinemas – all these sites comprise an amusement component – not matter how small. It has been calculated that though the ‘dedicated’ amusement site may have dwindled – the reality is that there are more amusement / redemption products in circulation than ever before.