It’s the last day of June so let’s check out some of the newest arcade businesses that have opened their doors out there.
Cineplex Rec Room Now Open In Toronto
The first location we’ll take a look at today is the opening of Cineplex’s Rec Room in Toronto. Cineplex owns various companies throughout Canada, including the recently rechristened Cineplex Starburst (now known as Player One Group, which operates and distributes new arcade games in the US & Canada).
The Rec Room serves as a new concept for them to be tackling, aiming for that high end, ritzy FEC. Game maker Barron Games was there for the grand opening (click here for some photos). By looking at the pictures there and on this article about the opening from Blogto, the games are heavy on redemption but there is some video entertainment to be found. That includes: Aliens Armageddon Dlx; Cruis’n Blast x2; Daytona Championship USA x2; Jurassic Park Arcade; Mario Kart Arcade GP DX x4; MotoGP x4; and more. One significant part of the opening is this marks the first international opening for the out-of-home VR entertainment experience The Void, which is headquartered out of my home state of Utah. They fell quite short of their goal of having 300 locations open by the end of 2016 (they now have two I believe) but marketing hype aside, The Void does offer one of the best VR experiences I’ve come across out there thanks in great part to the use of in-game mapped walls.
Gatti’s Pizza Open Today In Mesquite, TX
Bringing the ‘pizza buffet’ experience to Mesquite, the newest Gatti’s Pizza has opened their doors there, bringing with them 4500 sq. ft. of arcade gaming entertainment. Corporate chains like this usually don’t publish games lists and from their Facebook page they have this slideshow video which shows a strong focus on redemption gaming. (Direct link if the embed below doesn’t work for you)
EXPO Food Market in Buffalo, NY Adds An Arcade/Bar
As a part of an upscale food market that brings a few different related small businesses together, the Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar (or GBGB) has opened their doors, adding a small selection of arcade machines to the side. From the photo on this article, that is only 5 games strong – Big Buck Safari, Donkey Kong Jr., Hydro Thunder, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders – but it’s not always about the quantity for locations when an arcade may not be their primary focus.
Buffalo gets a funky fresh bar with an old school arcade attached. https://t.co/G78n8Z8rHo
— Ryan Cravens (@ryancravens) June 27, 2017
TILT Arcade/Bar Coming To Greenville, SC “This Summer”
This tweet below briefly mentions a new arcade/bar aiming to open in Greenville this Summer. Even looking at their Facebook page, details are scarce at this point apart from them appearing to probably having a focus on classic games like Donkey Kong. This is not related to the chain known as Tilt Studio which has a number of locations setup across the US.
— FOX Carolina News (@foxcarolinanews) June 19, 2017
Round1USA In Hicksville, NY Open Tomorrow
I think we’ve mentioned this one two or three times now as the opening has been put off but the latest R1 location is finally opening their doors tomorrow. Just in case you are in the area and hadn’t heard.
— bemanistyle (@bemanistyle) June 26, 2017
Dave & Busters Coming To Utah
I once was told that the last state that would find a Dave & Busters would probably be Utah but with news that the company has set their sights on opening a location at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City, UT, it looks like we’ll be beating out several other states in that ‘race’. That new D&B will be opening sometime next year, which just so happens to be when Round1USA will also be opening up at the South Towne Mall (which is about 15-20 minutes south of Salt Lake City’s downtown). To make things more exciting for me with my location that is right in the middle of those two malls, I’ve been hearing rumors that the empty Macy’s bulding in the mall I’m at is going to be filled by an unamed FEC that will have “bowling and laser tag”. Fun times – but I’m not too worried. I’ll keep stepping up my game as I can afford to and roll with the punches as I can.
For those interested into some ‘inside baseball’, I can comment further, touching on things that article doesn’t mention since I’m a local and familiar with some of the business history apart from the geography of the area. The Gateway Mall is owned by the same company that owns the mall where my arcade is at. All malls across America have been struggling in the era of internet shopping dominance and digital products so it is no surprise to hear that the Gateway has had a challenging existence. They already have been home to a few different arcade businesses – the aforementioned Tilt Studio had a place there, there was an arcade/bar called Skybox and Gameworks attempted a location there too, only to close after six months.
The new management is focusing on revitalizing The Gateway to bring businesses back and landing D&B as a client is certainly a good score for them as I think they have the strongest brand recognition of the bunch that have tried and failed in the area. From the sounds of it, D&B is going to become a major attraction for the mall by taking over the old food court area so that will certainly be a benefit.
That said, there are tough challenges for The Gateway in general. It’s not just the upper class City Creek mall being a few blocks away – City Creek has a retractable roof so that you can wander the area in mid-February without trouble while The Gateway is still 100% open air (whoever came up with that brilliant idea for Northern Utah must not have been a local. We’re not Minnesota but we still have more cold days than warm ones).
Then there are security problems with the hot-button issue of a homeless shelter in the area that has caused a bit of visitor drain; that shelter and the crime ridden Pioneer Park finding themselves closer to Gateway than City Creek. Gateway is trying to address the security problem as best they can while the city and county are attempting to come up with a solution to the wider problem the city has been experiencing with the shelter.
Granted, Salt Lake and the businesses there get treated with much better media coverage regarding crime then surrounding areas so it won’t be an insurmountable task for them to convince people to come back. I’ve never been able to get my business mentioned by one of the local major networks (of the CBS/ABC/FOX/NBC variety) while they have covered similar businesses “on the East side”. There’s a silly local myth I’ve heard for as long as I can remember that considers everything West of a main street called Redwood Road to be worse than Biff Tannen’s 1985 from Back To The Future II while everything East is a utopian Eloi paradise where people don’t even know what crime is. That permeates into news stories and what they cover. The reality as you can imagine is nowhere near that but usually the dumbest misconceptions are the ones that tend to stick around.
Overall, 2018 is going to be a great time for the FEC market in Utah. It will also allow me to check out some of those exclusive games that D&B or R1USA tend to get their hands on without having to wait for a show like IAAPA. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on these developments as they unfold.