2019 is upon us, which means that it is time to take a look back at the arcade, pinball and other amusement news of 2018.
The State Of The Industry 2018
2018 has been a great year for arcades, to the point that long-time industry figures are saying that they’ve “never seen it as vibrant as it is right now.” I would agree with that sentiment – the industry is on fire right now, with growth to be found among every sector of the amusement business. In the past, most attention was focused on bar/arcades, but that has certainly shifted this year as FECs have exploded in growth.
One type of post that we love to do around here are new locations. Such locations tend to get coverage in local media and not national or international ones (with odd exceptions). This year we have mentioned dozens of new locations opening their doors around the world – most of these locations opening up in the USA. Granted, what I manage to find and mention does not cover 100% of the new arcade locations to open out there – just what I happen to find out about. Some location posts this year include:
- New Arcades: Neon Retro Arcade #2 (CA); Appalachian Pinball Museum (NC); The Arcade (KS); Keg & Coin (FL); Pinz (MA); State Of Mind (CA); The Game Works (OR)
- New Locations: Walt’s Bar (CA); Punch Bowl Social (IL); Dave & Busters; Sega Prize Zones (UK)
- New Arcades Open: GameOn Berlin; Round1USA (OH); Game On! (NZ); Quarters Arcade Bar (UT) & More
- Open For Business: Another Castle: Arcade Edition (WA); Xplore Kids (NY); GameTime #4 (FL) & More
- Location News: Subpar Mini Golf (CA);1985 Arcade Bar + Grill (KS); Ryan Family Amusements (MA); & More Upcoming
- Location Watch: Spare Time (SC); Arcadia (NZ); Plaza Lanes (IN); Scene75 (PA & OH), Prince Arcades (IL) & More
- New Locations: EightyThree 2.0(OK); Outer Orbit (CA); Andretti’s (TX); Malibu Jack’s (KY); GameTime (FL) & More
- New Arcades: Gamestate (NED); Lost Levels (CA); Colonial Soldier Arcade (NJ); Aunt Ethel’s (WI); The Pinball Dudes (FL) & More
- New Arcades 2018: Japan Update; Babylon Park (Israel); Save Point (MD); Starcade (NJ); Prince Arcades (IL); & More
For my own arcade business, I celebrated 10 years in operation this past June. While 2017 was previously the best year I had seen earnings wise, 2018 beat it out comfortably as the economy continues to roar along. Looking at percentages, we’re 8% up over 2017. Thanks to this, I have been able to enhance my game selection, adding a pair of NBA Hoops games, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Raw Thrills), a Joust, a Galaxian cocktail, The Addams Family pinball, Redline Rampage, a Raiden II and a paid of Maximum Tune 5 cabinets. I also have come across an opportunity to begin a route by supplying arcade games to a tech company that setup operations in the state earlier this year.
For my top five performing games, out of an arcade that currently stands at about 70 games strong (as a note, all of these games below have been present in my arcade for the full year, while a couple of the newer ones above have only been there for 3-6 months):
- #5 – Star Wars Battle Pod (Bandai Namco)
- #4 – Aliens Armageddon (Raw Thrills/Play Mechanix)
- #3 – The Walking Dead (Raw Thrills/Play Mechanix)
- #2 – Jurassic Park Arcade (Raw Thrills)
- #1 – Cruis’n Blast (Raw Thrills; combining earnings of both cabinets as one)
Without getting into the numerical specifics, there is a massive disparity between positions #3 and #4…I’m not really sure why there isn’t anything that falls in-between those two in earnings. All of the games above, excepting Aliens, is 4 tokens ($1) to start. Obviously, my clientele really enjoys Raw Thrills content.
As a small data point, the mall where I’m at no longer has any retail game store in operation, with The Game Pedler having sadly moved out of the mall to make space for an upcoming Old Navy store. The GameStop here closed down due to a Ross coming in several years ago; so this means that an independent arcade has outlived two retail game stores. Yes, this is only one example in a market that is not a bell-weather for everywhere else, but one has to admit that it turns the typical narrative on it’s head.
Arcade Heroes – Site Stats
The first post of the year was Pump It Up Prime 2 2018 Update Released To Arcades. The first major story to break this year was “Sega To Begin Testing House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn This Friday.”
We surpassed 7 million total site visits in the fall, accumulated since the site was launched back in December 2006. The busiest month for the site was October, with 38,447 views. I visited three trade shows and one collector’s event (CAX), which kept me plenty busy and provided our video channels with some new content.
76 videos were posted to our YouTube channel this year, starting with a direct capture of Crusi’n Blast on Jan 1st. Our most popular video of all time is the Aliens Armageddon unboxing, although the most watched video this year was a direct capture of The Walking Dead (guess I should do more of those 😛 ). Granted, many other YouTube channels have many more views and subscribers, but I’m glad that so many seem to be enjoying the content that has gone up. The channel should hit 6,000 subscribers some time soon.
July also saw the release of my second book, the Arcade Heroes Arcade & Pinball Gaming Almanac 2018/2019 Edition. My sincere thanks to everyone who grabbed a copy!
Top Ten Posts – 2018
Now here are your top ten posts of the site, based on total views since publication:
#7 – Rabbids Hollywood Released As Tomb Raider Comes To Dave & Busters & Dave & Busters Officially Rolls Out Tomb Raider Arcade – While these were two separate posts, they were made the same week and cover the same subject, so counting them as one.
#3 – Stern & Ka-Pow Pinball Reveal “The Beatles – Beatlemania Pinball” – While it is rare that The Beatles offer up a reason to post about within arcades, the reveal of the pinball machine came as no surprise
#2 – Rampage Returns To Arcades As A Dave & Busters Exclusive – Admittedly I was a bit surprised by this one as the movie just didn’t do well, but this and the #1 post shows that there is interest – to a degree – in classic game reboots.
#1 – Taito Testing Head-To-Head “Space Invaders Pinball Jam” In Japan – As a late-comer to the pack, the story that has interested you the readers the most in 2018 was this surprise out of Japan where Taito is testing out a Space Invaders head-to-head pinball machine. Will Taito test this one out in the States or in Europe? We’ll see…
What is in store for 2019?
Nothing but good & prosperity from what I can see. You can see which games are known to be coming next year on our updated 2019 arcade releases page. This industry still has tons of potential, much of which will be tapped as we can see there.I’m particularlt excited about the possibilities that will be opened up as systems like the Exa-Arcadia and possibly NESiCAxLive 2 become available.
Sure, things can always go “south” so to speak, but I think those who prepare by carrying little to no debt will be in the best positions to take advantage of any eventual downturns that take place (as that is how economies work – things go up, things go down. People just tend to jump into PANIC!!! mode when things go down, as opposed to taking things with cool-headed calm like they should). I personally do have a worry as I’ll have a huge FEC open up in the same building around August/September, but I can’t really know how bad that will affect things until they are operational and the initial grand opening euphoria wears off.
If you’re an operator then I also wish you the best of continues growth and prosperity; if you’re a player, then there is plenty of fun to be had.
What are you looking forward to the most as we go into 2019?