As we knew from a report earlier this year, Bandai Namco had planned to release a new level for their Star Wars Battle Pod arcade this Summer. That would be based on a battle from the recent Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens film. Thanks to a press release sent out from the American arm of the company today, that update can now be ordered from your distributor.
A couple of things that we learn from the PR:
-This update is only available for the Deluxe/dome version of the game
-It is only available for pre-order for a couple of weeks
It’s not clear why no update is being made available for the Flat Screen Edition of the game at this point or why such a short order period is being offered. I would think you would want more time to get more sales.
I’ll get into the price but first, here is the release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Star Wars™: Battle Pod™ / “The Force Awakens” Upgrade kit now available for pre-order
ELK GROVE VILLAGE, IL – BANDAI NAMCO Amusement America is excited to announce that the new Star Wars™: Battle Pod™ / “The Force Awakens” Upgrade kits are now available for pre-order!
This latest upgrade kit for the very popular Star Wars™: Battle Pod™ arcade game features the brand new and exciting “Battle of Takodana” level. This exhilarating level lets you repel the first order’s attack on Maz Kanata’s castle located on Takodana as seen in Star Wars™ Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Jump into the cockpit of an X-wing fighter and fly alongside Poe Dameron to help the rebel alliance defeat the villainous first order’s TIE fighters.
This action packed level will require that you use all your senses to pilot your way through the battle that unfolds around you while you’re seated in the cockpit of the enormous projected dome screen of the Star Wars: Battle Pod. The upgrade kit includes “The Battle of Takodana” level software update and cabinet graphics for your Star Wars™: Battle Pod™ Dome Edition.
This kit is available in a limited supply and is only available currently for standard dome edition Star Wars™: Battle Pods™. Contact your distributor to pre-order now and make sure you reserve your upgrade kit; all orders must be placed by July 15th 2016.
About BANDAI NAMCO Amusement America, Inc. BANDAI NAMCO Amusement America, Inc. (BNAA) is a subsidiary of BANDAI NAMCO Holdings (USA) Inc. BNAA uses cutting-edge technology and advanced electronics to take their coin-operated video games far beyond traditional entertainment. BNAA is the premier manufacturer of coin-operated arcade games & attractions ranging from the hottest video games like Star Wars: Battle Pod, Time Crisis 5, and Mario Kart DX to popular redemption games like Goal Line Rush, Jumpin’ Jackpot and Whack’em Funky Gators. For the greatest arcade gaming fun, BANDAI NAMCO Amusement America is your answer!
By that, the update will likely be available on eligible, upgraded units by August. What are your hopes, thoughts or expectations for this new update?
It is great that new content is being made for the game – while we appreciate quality over quantity, having both is attainable, given the right amount of investment into a project. Japanese games generally do have fewer levels than American counterparts but from my observations, American audiences seem to gravitate towards more content/levels.
As for the price, I have confirmed with one distributor that they are selling it for $4995. This combined with the extremely short lead time to order has me scratching my head. I get that it wasn’t free for Namco to produce this level so some cost was expected. But the price puts it well above updates for arcade titles like Golden Tee or Big Buck Wild (the latter offers a software upgrade that has content for 3 games for $1999; you can buy them separately for less); or indie music games like ReRave or NEON FM which offered free content updates. I’m not really sure what the compare this cost too except for maybe Street Fighter IV AE 2012.
Where I do own an eligible SWBP unit, I’ve seen the earnings on the game drop hard after Episode VII fever broke. That combined with an expensive lamp that dies after about 10 months of operation, the game needs to be an earnings powerhouse for a good, long time to have reasonable ROI. I get that because one spends $35k on the game that $5k is “chump change”. However, after watching the game’s performance over a year, it really needs more than just the Star Wars name to make the money back. Yes it is the hottest of hot licenses out there. But a name alone doesn’t guarantee success. This is what grates me about the license mentality that our industry is cotched with these days – the “Build It (i.e. slap a familiar name on it) and They Will Come” approach. There is a key element to that thought that is often forgotten or ignored: “Make it satisfying and they will come back for more”. If there is no real substance there, you don’t get the repeat play, which is even more challenging when you’re talking about a single player game. When games drop in earnings its because players are not re-buying into it. It is also noteworthy that the game has about a 30% continue rate, even though it is cheaper to continue your game. To think that game magazines used to rate “replay value” in their reviews…how far we’ve come from that being a consideration.
To be fair, I knew it was a very high risk going into this because of the price. I didn’t have to roll the dice on it but I did as I figured it being Star Wars was a great marketing opportunity. If I’m lucky, earnings will go up the next time a Star Wars movie is released. But it is disappointing that I have to hope on Hollywood to make the game earn (and given that Rogue One is garnering negative reviews from early tests, that doesn’t fill me with confidence).
Fingers crossed that this additional level is what the game needs to get a second wind – I’ve asked about earnings reports to see if it is worth the cost but am waiting on an answer for that. It’s also unfortunate that the window of opportunity is incredibly short here, which benefits chain buyers but not more independent operations.
Of course, I could just be an isolated case. Do you replay the Battle Pod and why? Do you think the game needs adjustments or is it fine to just have these single level updates? Are you looking forward to this level?