1up.com is doing a “What if” series of articles and videos that covers their idea of what life would be like if some sort of situation in the game industry were different. They decided to look at if arcades were the only thing that existed and I can’t help but think it’s all tongue-in-cheek since it certainly doesn’t take a serious look at what it would be like. Not that I haven’t thought up some “what if” scenarios in my head before about video games when I have some down time and nothing better to think about. Here’s the video if you are interested:
For some serious thought on it and not lamenting how it would suck to be a game journalist that has to *gasp* get out to play a game to review it (aka #1stworldproblems), I think it would be a lot like what you find in countries around the world where home consoles aren’t easily accessible due to cost. I have lived in Brazil for a few years and there a console like the Xbox 360 costs somewhere around R$2500-R$3000. I knew a lot of people that made about R$500-R$700 a month so such an expense as a game console is out of the question for many. As such arcades are fairly popular there as it is a much cheaper way for a consumer to enjoy their games. I imagine that it is also similar in China, where a lot of new arcade development is taking place and there isn’t a console in every home. There are inherent problems that come out of there, particularly with piracy but there are some who are trying to make their own unique games to appeal to players.
Spending quarters or the equivalent on arcade games is much easier to come by in a lot of places and that’s also not taking into consideration the other costs of a game console. Anytime I see arguments that arcades are too expensive, I haven’t seen comparisons of how much people spend on home entertainment as you have the cost of the console, accessories like the controllers, the games themselves at $30-$60 a pop, and the DLC for those games. Add in the cost of a new TV if needed for an HD game console or a surround sound system if desired; maybe even the cost of your internet service or Xbox Live subscription. That’s the thing that gets overlooked with arcades – when you have a cabinet, it has everything the game needs built into it already – the HD screen, the sound systems, the unique controllers and the game. Considering the effects of inflation, even paying a $1 for a game is not so bad when you look at it as a total package and we have to remember that markets only support what people are willing to pay for as well. That’s even more striking when a game uses some sort of expensive new technology like an autostereoscopic 3D screen like with Let’s Go Island 3D, a large multi-touch screen like TouchFX or ReRave has or a seamless multi-screen like with Dariusburst Another Chronicle. You are probably not going to fork over several grand to get that sort of stuff at home for a small selection of games. Of course with no home games, what would be out there would be different, to fit into the arcade model. But who knows, with all the development dollars being spent there, some variations of the model would certainly appear and the market would adjust to please the players.
Speaking of costs, how much do you really spend on an arcade game to beat it? I’ve spent about $15 before to clear out a newer game but as I get better at it I spend less for the same amount of entertainment afterwards. Anything I spend time on watching first that prepares me for what is to come as well. And if I don’t like a game, spending $1 to find that out (although usually more like 75¢) is much better than spending $60 for the same thing. Of course there are rentals for homes but I have been burned before on buying into the hype for a game only to really not like it afterwards. Again, that is a lesson for rentals but when you look at the arcade industry, it’s a rental model as it is. I should also add that arcades don’t have ridiculous DRM that requires an always on internet connection for you to play single player. That is what modern PC DRM is turning into, pricey rentals that are a bit more than what arcades will charge.
I’m not against home development by any means, I own over a dozen consoles myself and I play both home and arcade games frequently. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy both but if all you did was arcade gaming it’s not like it would be a dreary world of soulessness either. It’s not like the world of home gaming is a sea of roses either. Recent earnings reports from Japanese companies show Sega and Namco doing better in arcade amusements then home amusements. Sega cut back on their home developments quite a bit, Atari is facing continued pressure and rumors of cuts Sony is facing a potential disaster over the Vita which is not selling very well in Japan. A lot of development is moving to mobile platforms of course and costs for games will change as more shifts to the digital domain.
Well observed Adam – in Latin America this “what if” scenario exists and they are very happy with the dependance on amusement for their gaming. It is sad that the 1up team do not recognize this.
I just wonder if the consumer game media is in the right frame of mind to logically look at amusement afresh. The collapse of their business model leaves a bitter taste in their mouth to look at any other form of gaming, especially as this sector dose not support spoon feeding media coverage! – Thoughts?
I would say that is a big no. As this shows, as well as other occasional arcade coverage, they seem to have a limited bubble and are unwilling to venture outside of that bubble to do simple research. That’s why we’ve had to argue for getting arcades into e3, because they ignore them otherwise. It should be a simple task to find out that there are many areas of the world where getting to play the latest Halo or CoD game is not as simple as it is for someone living in LA, or working a job where games are sent to you for free as it is. But where they don’t do that, I think it damages their credibility. How many of their readers will recognize that though, probably none.
I worked in the game media up to 2001, and I can assure you that just about nobody else in the biz, at the time, cared about arcade titles–they simply didn’t exist, even then, and it’s 100% guaranteed they care even less now.
(We actually covered them pretty heavily, when possible, going so far as to put the Spawn arcade machine *on the cover*.)
There have been a couple of places that have – Gamefan, Hardcore Gamer Magazine, on occasion EDGE. But yeah, the rest of print and online media can’t be bothered about it, unless of course CoD was attached to it. There is some culpability from the arcade sector in this regard on a few levels of course but you can tell some organizations really like video games on all levels when they do try to cover arcades.
I have the pleasure of supply EDGE magazines coverage on new amusement releases – I also have been asked to write a couple of state of the market features but to be frank this is a up hill struggle to get recognition.
The problem we had, then (which is probably the same issue now), is that we actually had to *buy* PCBs to cover them, which was kinda weird (granted, it didn’t matter to the reader who wasn’t going to be able to read about this stuff anywhere else), *or*, in the case of dedicated units (like NAOMI Spawn) we had to fly to the company in question to play the game–it wasn’t quiet as simple as dropping a rev in the mail and popping into our dev boxes.
I do wonder if the manufacturers themselves reached out to the likes of 1UP (ugh), Destructoid (double ugh) or Kotaku (this is a family site, so I’ll refrain on this one), if they could, perhaps, generate some coverage?
Again, you do run up against the wall of either having a local arcade with the machine on offer *or* flying to view it. (I’m reasonably certain that nobody, these days (ah, the good ol’ days), is going to pay to fly their indentured servants ‘just’ to cover an arcade machine. But, perhaps, offering to cover the flight might get somebody out there, wherever ‘there’ might be?
(Granted, it’s entirely possible the manufacturers don’t care–Kevin and AH could speak to that more than I could–so this might be moot, but it’s certainly worth a try, I think. Certainly somebody like NAMCO must have some room in their budget for PR/marketing purposes?)
That is a good point and it probably would be more economical to get them hooked up with a location test in California or something over providing a setup that would work for review purposes. I think that a manufacturer or two has reached out on occasion but nothing too in-depth.
I was covered when I went down to cover Dirty Drivin’ though. I guess I really should do an arcade review section on the site.
Aaaaand there go my paragraph breaks!
The core issue was that the amusement trade association was charged with the job of promoting the industry and blew about $40k on not doing anything like encouraging reviews and better coverage.
I once worked in the UK for a arcade distributor that supported CVG with chances to review new PCB’s. I was interested to hear EMC had to buy your boards! I am concerned that getting consumer media coverage is not on the amusement trade radar.
Let’s be frank, the amusement trade is the only entertainment industry I know that dose not directly promote to its customer base – seeing the operator as their customer rather than the players! For me this is lunacy, but as direct marketing would cost money, the trade dose not like to think on this.
I would go further and state that amusement is not worth promoting – I would propose a new sector digital out-of-home entertainment that WOULD promote to the players and have a special marketing drive to do this – totally alien to how the amusement trade works today.
I though excatly what you mean arcadehero. I have many consoles and little devices like the 3DS and ipod but I still love visiting an arcade that has good games even the classic ones that are like 30 or 20 years old. I’m just one of those people that loves old and new video games. It’s also like I said before about releasing ports on home console, if people are saying arcades are dead and that you can play nearly all the games at home then why don’t they manage to sell millions and millions of copies like CoD for excample or super mario kart? For me ceratin games like RPG are much better off at home most of the time and games that are you can easily get stuck into like racing, shooters, fighters, rhythem do better out in public. People like to be surprise and find something that they don’t come across at home that can’t be done properly in their home setting, much like a snooker/billiards and air hockey table etc
What if 1-Up didn’t exist?
Guy can dream, right?
@EMC, not sure that is such a fanciful concept – from the state of the consumer media scene you may get to see exactly that!
“When you wish upon a star…” 😉
What’s funny is that (most of) the gaming press missed some major resurgences in the arcade, such as the DDR craze… (shameful that i saw more coverage on mainstream media like the today show than in the gaming press) and what’s worse they missed opportunities to fan the flames of smaller crazes such as Drift based racing games like Initial D and Wagan, Derby Owner Club etc… not to mention being able to champion games that should be bought over to the states (ahem… BORDER BREAK, SHINING CROSS lol)
@60hz – not really that they missed them, just that they felt they were not worth covering. The DDR revolution was rammed down some journo’s throats and they did everything to ignore it. I know of one mag that attempted to claim that Guitar Hero was not similar to BEMANI only to have to drop that claim in the face of the law suit.
This fundamentally underlines the attempts to blinker their views over amusement by the console mags – that said some are now coming round desperate for something to cover in the current console drought!
Amusingly, the man ripping on trashy web sites is the man who was responsible for not only turning a reasonably decent magazine into utter crap, and, later, being personally responsible for creating one of the largest single-issues of crap ever published.
Alas, I digress. Getting back to the article in question, it’s certainly an interesting question to consider what life is like in markets like South America and Asia, where it isn’t practical or affordable to own a console and the necessary equipment. In these markets, it is possible for an arcade to thrive; yet, there are still other factors to consider that may make such an endeavor impractical.