RIP GameWorks

arcadehero December 23, 2021 3
RIP GameWorks

[Thanks to everyone who sent me the info]

While we have not mentioned the arcade chain GameWorks as frequently as some other chains out there, they have had a presence on the scene since the original location opened its doors in Seattle back in March 1997. That location opened with a star-studded event, which was quite unlike anything we’ve seen in more recent memory.

Despite the strong running start, the arcade depression of 2001 didn’t just affect manufacturers, it wreaked havoc among locations too. Dreamworks (the animation company) sold off their portion of the biz back in 2001, then a few years later the company declared bankruptcy. While it had been saved by Sega Sammy Holdings in 2005, that failed back in 2010 when Sega declared bankruptcy on the location a second time (which could be attributed to the economic hardships around then) and some locations closed or transferred ownership. The company has exchanged hands a few times until ExWorks Capital (which has such a basic website that it’s kind of weird) acquired them in 2018.

Word started to spread on Twitter earlier this week that GameWorks was shutting down all of its locations.  I don’t doubt those tweeting about it – I just was striving to do my due diligence on chasing the details down of a story, especially where it affects a lot of people across many states. As such, I did endeavor to reach someone in the company, both at ExWorks Capital and GameWorks itself, including several phone calls to the different locations as well as the corporate number, that either went nowhere or to a voice mail; I also attempted a few emails just to cover my bases.

Right before publishing this article, I did receive an email from Darren DesRoches at GameWorks with the following statement:

Thank you for all the love over these past decades. As we all know, the pandemic has not been easy. We, unfortunately, cannot continue in the environment it has spawned. We hope you remember us fondly and wish you all the best.
No further comments. Happy Holidays.

That unfortunately sums it up.

Update: Here’s some pics from @Sharerika of the games at the Seattle location before and after:

Some who live in the Seattle area such as Kelsey Lewin are working to preserve some of the history at the location, which brings us to the next question:

What about the locations?

The last time that GameWorks went bankrupt, some locations were able to stay open under new local ownership, saving the jobs and the equipment therein. They weren’t called GameWorks anymore; I visited one of those around 2013 or 14 (sorry, things are starting to blend together in my Old Man Memory these days 😛 ) down in Florida called GameRoom. They still had plenty of games and fixtures from the old location in place, including a 2Spicy setup, which is the first time I came across that unique game. Overall it kept the same vibe but showed that the concept was still viable as long as it was being managed correctly.

Can that happen with these remaining venues? I hope so, but it will depend on someone with the money to invest in each separate case (unless a company with deep pockets steps in and takes them all over). That sort of happened with the GameWorks that used to be in Salt Lake City, although it was just a different arcade that came in and tried to do their own thing in that space (they ultimately failed too – currently, there’s a Dave & Busters in the same mall where GW was, just a different spot. But they have seemed to be making it work).

At this point, only time will tell, but for now, RIP GameWorks. :/

That said, don’t write arcades off just yet. Some of these locations may be preserved and live on; Other arcades have also been opening their doors, even now.

What is your fondest memory of GameWorks?


  1. Tim Crowley December 25, 2021 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I took my best friends, “Jay” and “Tee” there for their wedding party in like.. 98, I think? It was rad. Seemed to predate D&B’s.

  2. Joe (Indie Arcade Wave) December 30, 2021 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    7th grade field trip to DT Minneapolis where there was a Gameworks. It has since moved to the Mall of America in Bloomington. That was my favorite field trip in school.

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