Here’s a few things that have piled up that might have been able to go to posts of their own but let’s compile them into one here.
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One important aspect of business and economics is that of certainty. Generally speaking of recessions and depressions, no matter where they happen, some uncertainty hurts production while too much can kill it outright. One thing that is consistent about the coin-op industry is the usage of coins and in any given country, they will usually have coin types and sizes pre-defined in a way that keeps things certain. When that country makes changes though, it throws the situation into a state of flux and it can end up hurting those who really have to foot the bill.
Such is the situation in the UK, which is going to change their £1 coins in a bid to thwart those ever sneaky and adaptive counterfeiters. Unfortunately that design is so unique that anyone who is setup to take such coins have to foot the bill for modifying their machines which could equal as much as £20 million in costs to the operators. This covers a wide range of machines from parking meters, trolleys and more but for any arcade operators that charge such a price for their machines. Granted I do not know how common it may be to charge £1 per play and this also depends on the machine (I imagine this would be more common with brand new machines as opposed to those with a few years on them already).
When those re-designed $1 coins were introduced in the US around 2000, that caused some tumult from what I recall but it never really has caught on as the primary method to pay for a game. Of course there was a market slump in arcades around that time so I doubt that many operators were keen to charge that much, at least from what I have seen. Personally I’ve not seen any machine setup to take those particular coins – it is either quarters, tokens or they are card based and eschew coins entirely. One of those ideas might work in the UK for a venue that may not be using them already but again it’s difficult to know how many businesses this might affect (existing or future). (Thanks to Nik Thorpe for the tip)
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A little more from GDC2014, which ends today. Eugene Jarvis of Raw Thrills was there to provide insight into how he made the classic arcade title, Robotron 2084. Quick quote:
Jarvis said that, as a programmer, he was most interested in “creating freshness” so that the rich variety of enemies could always deliver new experiences. In his career, he said, there were many projects that didn’t work out as expected. But with Robotron, which took six months to develop, “everything turned out right.”
UPDATE: More from the Jarvis event here @ Edge Online.
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On Facebook I saw a post from someone who was approached by a guy trying to sell a “super rare non-working Ms. Pac-Man machine”, basing off of some of the ridiculous prices one might find on eBay. Now I have suggested people use eBay before when trying to get an idea of the price but this is something you need to be cautious about as shown by the Ms. Pac-Man phenomenon. It is true that prices are generally more reasonable than they used to be, being a little more driven by demand. But you can still come across people trying to get amounts for these that just do not make sense. I’ll pick on this listing. We’ve all seen them. “rare” original Ms. Pac-Man arcade cabinets from 1982! But it now for only $2400! It’s been said before but its worth saying again as a friendly word of advice to potential buyers and sellers out there – this is a crock. Collectors in many fields try and add value to their item by using the word “rare” but it has been so overused in game sales for so long that it has lost that meaning, much like the word “epic” in pop-culture. Ms. Pac-Man is the LEAST rare arcade video game ever made. Pac-Man is also pretty close. If an arcade game sells about 10,000 units, then that is pretty good and would be considered a success. Back in the late 70s and early 80s, many hit sales numbers of 20,000-40,000 on a regular basis. That would be really good. But Ms. Pac-Man had over 115,000 units made for it. That is more than twice the amount of average sales for other popular games and it defines market saturation. That also doesn’t include bootlegs and it does not include official re-releases of the software in compilations such as the Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga 20th and later the 25th anniversary machines (strangely enough, the 25th has been discontinued but they still make the 20th) and most recently the 30th anniversary arcade cabinet with Pac-Man’s Arcade Party (non-coin units only; I’m not sure why the coin version doesn’t get MPM). These re-releases have done quite from my understanding, being among some of the top sales to homes that arcade distributors see around the holiday season. So overall, if the value of Ms. Pac-Man should be tied to rarity, then they are at best worth 5¢. Over $1000 is laughable; realistically maybe a couple of hundred just due to the name and quality of the game. I think the $800 range a lot are selling for on eBay right now is too high. But the market will ultimately determine the value by what people are willing to pay for. Just don’t get caught up in the rarity charades, because it simply isn’t. (Picture from the Arcade Hero archives – no idea where it came from :P)
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Here is something my brother pointed me to, he being a huge EVE Online fan. Last year when Evefest 2013 rolled around there was news that an EVE “Offline” arcade game was there, which turned out to be a sidescrolling shooter game based upon the EVE engine and assets. If you were curious to see more about this project, here is a video that is a post-mortem of sorts that shows the development process behind the game. It is a mostly dry video with little footage of the game in action but if you are curious or a fan of anything EVE then here you go. I think it would make a great low-cost kit game.
For SF Fans, I’ve seen this clever tattoo making the rounds in the social media space. When it was shared with me the original source seemed to be buried in loophole links and I’ve seen it on Twitter as well so I’m not sure who it is that had this done or which blog should get credit for it originally.
New coins are not that much of a problem here in Europe since most games since the middle of the nineties use electronic coin controls. Some countries like France had them even earlier due to two versions of the 10 Francs in the late eighties.
You just have to teach them the new coins.
And 1 Pound is normal in the UK. I have already seen games like Dark Escape for 2 Pounds per credit.
The modern European coin-mech is able to take a wide selection of coins, and programing (re-programming) older systems to take the new smaller One Pound coin should not be a big issue. But there may be a concern that this added “support” issue could prove challenging to some more traditional operators.