UPDATE: Some new details have come to light about this game over the past few hours, so I will place corrected text where needed.
[Original]One game that really stood out at IAAPA 2019, was the Western arrival of Taito’s airsoft gun target shooting game, then known as Gun Arena (soon renamed to OnPoint). This primarily stood out for its use of real airsoft pistols that fired a pellet/BB at the screen, which was then recollected by the game, assuming said BB didn’t ricochet off. The game was originally created by Taito and released to the Japanese market back in 2018.
While this game did draw attention to the use of this technology, not everyone was convinced that the safety system, which is made to deactivate the firing mechanism if the gun isn’t pointing at the screen, would be 100% failproof. Between that, a high price tag, and really bad timing on the release (the game was supposed to launch in March/April 2020), it doesn’t seem like OnPoint has really been picked up by many locations out there.
What if you were to remove the airsoft/BB pellet firing feature and keep the rest of the game intact though? That’s what a distributor out of the UK has asked, and is now bringing to the market there with the generically named Skill Shooter. Designed by Electrocoin
in conjunction with Taito (the two companies have a strong relationship going back many years), this maintains the same software of the original, and even keeps the basic design of the gun intact with a hefty looking pistol and strong recoil – but no BBs or safety system required.
CORRECTION: The original story had the incorrect info about Taito being involved with this title. Kevin Williams, who does not work for Electrocoin, informed me that it is an original work that was heavily influenced by OnPoint. More details on this stupid situation are down below; My sincere apology for the error.
Unfortunately, Electrocoin has since removed the original video, but I’ll leave the embed in case it shows back up, and post an image I grabbed of the cabinet:
[Original Story] Well, let me say that I think there might be some changes to the software too – I don’t recall seeing a fruit rolling stage, and the bottle/can stage also had different backgrounds than the version that UNIS had. This also mentions that it can operate as a straight video game, ticket redemption game or there’s a prize vending feature.
[Deleted paragraph that also mentioned both Taito and UNIS]
What do you think about this variation on the OnPoint concept?
Post story rant
So how this correction came about was done in a not-so-common way. Generally if I get something wrong, I get an email or message from someone at the company, filling me in where corrections need to be made. But in this case, someone named Ian Eason flipped out on Facebook, claiming that I was “spreading fake news,” that this has “nothing to do with Taito, On Point, or Gun Arena,” and that this story was negatively “affecting business.”
Unfortunately, getting him to provide more details proved difficult; I’ve also sent a 2nd email to Electrocoin to see if there’s any clarification needed, but as of this moment, no response. Ian didn’t provide any evidence to this statement when tagging me on Facebook about it at first, only to later state: “you clearly said it’s a Taito machine that Electrocoin is marketing & it’s not.” He then refused to answer follow-up questions that I posed to him. If he is working at or with Electrocoin, then this really wasn’t the way to approach a correction.
Fortunately, Kevin Williams reached out and informed me that Electrocoin did commission a 3rd party to design the game, but since it is similar to OnPoint in several aspects, and Electrocoin did not make it clear when they went public about it, this has caused some issues behind-the-scenes.
This is not how I should have found out. This sort of thing happens with frequency in this industry; Not always here at AH, but in some other work I’ve done or am doing in the biz on the side. The main issue: The manufacturer releases some info about a new game, but it’s incomplete, so they get upset when the wrong info gets out there about it.
When this happens, the manufacturers have no one to blame but themselves, as they are the ones who did a dismal job at getting the info across. In this particular instance, instead of a quick message filling me in on an important fact to get a correction, they sent some guy onto Facebook to call me out, without stating what the “bullshit” and “fiction” are. You guys paid for and made the product and you guys promoted it on the biggest video site in the world. You should’ve been better prepared to reveal it. While it’s on me to present the facts in a correct manner, I can only work with what I’ve got. All we had, in this case, was a video. I had to extract the cabinet image from the video since there wasn’t even a product page for the game yet and I got no response from EC via email. It’s possible it went to spam and that’s unfortunate but so often my inquiries are ignored, then I hear from someone later on after publishing or months later at a tradeshow, as though I’m difficult to get a hold of. Frankly, I’m tired of anyone getting pissed off at me for their mishandling of a new game rollout. It’s the kind of thing that makes one ask “why do I even bother?,” since crap like this takes the joy out of something I otherwise enjoy doing.
I should reemphasize though that it’s not everyone that does this. Just a select few. For those that do, I really don’t get it. Some arcade companies act like they don’t want people to find out about their products. If I had just spent a few million bucks on creating something like this, I’d want everyone I could think of and then some talking about it. But that’s not always the case in the arcade biz for some reason. We have to act like we’re dealing with national security secrets instead of entertainment devices. Yes, there are reasons to not jump the gun too early on something. But if a game is pretty well locked in, then good marketing can set the correct expectations for it.
If you want the press to present the correct info when talking about it, then you should have a complete press package ready to go before you even put the game out on test, or pay someone to make a sleek YouTube video about it. It isn’t 1982 anymore and this isn’t a print magazine where info takes weeks or months to reach the public. You put something on YouTube or on test and people snap pics of it and share it on social media instantly. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something like a new game online, but I haven’t talked about it because I am waiting for more info, while the rest of the internet discusses it freely. Often, I never get a response or no one seems to know anything about it. I can’t wait forever, so eventually, I post. Having some guy online to send me on a treasure hunt to discover what your product is all about, instead of just answering the questions, or sending a message via email, the contact form here, or one of the social media platforms I use (I use pretty much all of them, even obscure ones), is not the way to do it.
Along those lines, if you’re going to design a game that is thisclose in appearance to an existing arcade game, then you have to know that people like myself are going to make comparisons. If the game is too close to an existing one, like Skill Shooter here, then you need to do a better job at distinguishing the game from the get-go. More than a few times I’ve seen devs get a little upset when I make comparisons, but if I notice it, others will too. You cannot expect people to not notice and not say anything when they see things that are only slightly different from the original game or notice that some of the original’s assets have been reused. Skill Shooter still uses the 301 Darts level…how else was I supposed to know since the video was the only source of data?
I recall when a company called JET got really pissed off a few years back when Wilcox Arcade had pointed out that their Gum Drop game was using the Mario Kart 8 theme song. I’d noticed it too, and so would millions of other people. I mentioned that to them at the tradeshow where the game first appeared, but they just blew it off. With Wilcox though, things got into a heated online argument. Wilcox was 100% right, but JET acted like it was his fault for pointing out that they were using music that they didn’t have the rights to use.
Arcade Heroes doesn’t exist to screw any arcade company over. Maybe that makes me a total shill, but I’m certainly not sitting here plotting how to sink the next game that comes along. On the contrary, I’ve provided arcade makers with tons of free advertising over the years, with a rare thank you to go along with all that work. Lol to anyone who thinks I’m making bank off of this. Most news sites and blogs out there could care less about your product and won’t even mention it unless you pay them to or it has some mega license attached to it. Yeah, it’s a labor of love for the most part, but I still endeavor to get all the facts right.
Anyways, that’s the update on Skill Shooter. Again, apologies for the bad info about Taito going out. But next time, answer my email or send me a message on social media before you go bitching about it to everyone else.