Welcome to Location Watch, an occasional series of posts that focus on brand new arcade businesses that have opened their doors recently. We cover them from any part of the world, splitting the news up between different world regions. It has been quite some time now since the last one in September… but the IAAPA news grind and an unfortunate slightly slower rate of openings in recent times have meant that it’s been put on something of an extended break until now.
The reasons for the latter are of course multifaceted and complex depending on your region, but broadly speaking, setting up and running an arcade is not one of the cheaper business endeavors to plunge oneself into in the present day and age. It’s kind of always been that way, but it is especially now – so as a consequence, a great majority of the openings covered here and in other posts are from pre-existing big chains with deeper pockets (although there does seem to be particular growth from smaller-scale examples here, which is good). Still, there are a few independent joints being established.
Find the last Location Watch here; Big thanks to everyone e.g. nsm, jdevy, and Ted that have helped compile this post sending in links about these places via our comments and the Arcade Heroes Discord chat, as well as the rolling updates from Replay Magazine and InterGame Online. If you have a new venue that recently opened that we haven’t covered before, please let us know!
And yes, this will serve as the last Location Watch of the year (happy holidays!).
Though openings have seemingly slowed from what they once were here too, there are fortunately several more fresh arcade launches to talk about in North America than other territories. There is some sad closure news as well – both Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbour, MI and the much-loved Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum are set to be forcibly demolished – but let’s not dwell too much on those when these new arcades are trying, even if the authorities might not want them around at some point in the future…
Arcade Monsters (Orlando, FL)
One of the highest-profile NA openings of late has been Arcade Monsters’ sixth location, based in International Drive, Orlando. Some did pass by this one whilst driving in the area for IAAPA, but didn’t quite have the time to visit. It seems to have a vast variety of titles though – proclaiming to be the largest arcade in the whole of Florida, AM boast over 100 games, ranging from the retro classics to more recent major releases from both the East (Beatmania IIDX, Sound Voltex, and Maximum Tune) and West (Super Bikes 3, Mario Kart Arcade GP Deluxe, and even Drone Racing Genesis). Here’s CEO Gaming’s tour:
Arcade Time (Miami, FL)
In more good arcade news for Florida, fellow small arcade and restaurant chain Arcade Time have also opened a new spot over in Miami at The Falls Mall. This one was a long time coming, having been originally announced for a tentative July date reported on here, but postponed to the start of December due to the mall itself needing more preparation. They appear to be slightly more redemption-heavy than AM, yet do have an even higher game count of 180; notable examples including Stern’s newly-released Venom. There are also some nice bespoke touches in the décor here, like this big neon marquee for Mario Kart:
Cidercade #5 (Arlington, TX)
Continuing the clear ‘bigger is better’ trend on show, despite its attendant costs, is the latest Cidercade from Texas-based craft brewery business Bishop Cider. Beating both of the above two to the punch with 300 games, their fifth venue in the state is a whopping 25,000sq freeplay barcade. As per Intergame, they are definitely going for the all-ages approach, with numerous party rooms and event spaces that can cater for everyone. In terms of games, it’s another varied blend of the old and the new, blurring the line between retro and current generation arcades further. Interesting to see this approach proliferate.
Rally Point Bar & Arcade (Wilmington, NC)
North Carolina is also seeing some new opening action with Rally Point Bar & Arcade, an independently-ran barcade in downtown Wilmington. Apparently its owner was inspired to open his own after frequenting many elsewhere during his time in the military! Regarding their machine lineup, there’s yet more from both the past and present; apparently one of the most popular games so far is Hyperpitch by LAI. That may change soon though as the place also has a yet-to-be-opened upstairs lounge area that is currently being renovated; this is slated to be finished next year, so that should keep some interest in it going.
The Arcade (Atlantic City, NJ)
Now for a new arcade without a bar attached (yes, they still exist), one has recently opened as part of a Harrah’s resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Designed by Aria Group, the 5,328-sq.ft location is one of the more pedestrian examples here. AH reader and Discord chat participant S1ckH4nds dropped by and kindly went out of his way to send a quick run-through clip of the spot, though as shown, it is very redemption-heavy besides a select few fairly predictable videos (F&F, Mario Kart, Jurassic Park etc). There is at least a Breakout from Coastal Amusements, which has never seemed particularly common:
Neon Dreams (Largo, FL)
By way of contrast, here’s a new independent location that will surely please core players of rhythm and fighting games. Neon Dreams opened in Pinellas Park, Largo at the end of October, and specialises in both of these genres, featuring a very import-heavy line-up of Japanese titles as well as a selection of other games. It’s also more good news for Florida-based arcade fans as this is now the third new joint to open there in recent months… dunno what might be causing this burst of openings, but it’s nice to see.
FEC Openings & Updates
Lots of news from D&B, with no less than four of their openings over the past few weeks alone as of writing:
Dave & Busters Open Their Latest Location In Atlantic City, NJ – S1ckH4nds was invited to a VIP soft launch event for this one, and helpfully provided us another walkthrough of the pre-opening.
Europe started off 2023 fairly strong for new arcade business openings, but has sadly slowed down drastically going into the second half, despite existing places still doing well and their IAAPA in September being a resounding success. As proof of this, only one location was mentioned last time for the whole continent (although a couple were admittedly missed), and there are only a few more to speak of here. With the EAG trade show in London coming up during January, hopefully next year is kicked off by a return to prominence though.
Funbox (Liverpool, UK)
One of the notable growing arcade-adjacent chains in Europe is Gravity; though they started off as trampoline parks, their business portfolio has expanded more recently to huge mixed-use entertainment centers under the ‘MAX’ sub-brand. Alongside go-karting, bars, and other interactive experiences, FEC-like arcades are also part of the offering. These are ran by Funbox Entertainment, who were bought out by Paul Williams of Sega Amusements last year, so expect to see much of their produce at them… including their latest Liverpool one, where it is joined by bigger attractions.
Sega Prize Zone (Stafford, UK)
Another Sega Amusements-associated joint previously missed (both this and Gravity MAX opened towards the end of the summer) was their newest Sega Prize Zone location, as part of the Superbowl UK chain of bowling alleys. Superbowl aren’t one of the bigger bowling alley franchises over there from the sounds of it, but they have been growing over the past few years, with this new venue in Stafford and others in the pipeline making up their current count of 15 branches, all with arcades ran by Sega.
Though the arcade name may suggest redemption-only, there is a selection of some of SAI’s latest video games to fortunately stop it from being a total prize wash-out. This includes Mission Impossible Arcade and the aforementioned Drone Racing Genesis, proving that one really does exist out there on location at a few places now. A much more curious choice however is the original Storm Rider game rather than its recent sequel – perhaps they already don’t have any more stock of that one on hand?
Gamestate (Netherlands, Germany)
Outside of the UK and a familiar name to LW followers should be Gamestate, who have quietly became one of the biggest chains across multiple mainland Europe countries. They have opened a couple of new locations since we last spoke about them, including one in Gent and another in Antwerp (this being the biggest that they’ve opened yet; pictured below).
FEC Openings & Updates
Taito Station (Hong Kong)
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of Asia recently is Taito’s return to the global stage on location operations. Never especially known for their international presence in this area of the industry, Taito have of course been as influential as the likes of Sega and Namco in managing their own facilities over in Japan over the decades – but unlike those two, have been historically much more lukewarm on expanding elsewhere. That seems to be changing though, as for the first time in 11 years they now have a Taito Station outside of Japan in Hong Kong.
Now this first place does seem to be very crane-heavy, which should not come as a surprise. But Taito have installed some other traditional amusement pieces, including air hockey and basketball hoops, as well as a few tailor-made electromechanical machines of games that are popular in HK, which appear to have been made inhouse at the company itself. Most interesting of all though, this bit of coverage seems to suggest their expansion sights are not just set on the rest of Asia for the first time…
Tecmopia Zama (Kanagawa, Japan)
Who remembers that Koei Tecmo are still involved in the arcade business? News may have been slow from them on this front in recent years, with the disappointing cancellation of their Tecmo Bowl 2021 revival alongside Raw Thrills, but KT nonetheless continue to maintain a small number of ‘Tecmopia’ locations in Japan. And this new one can be added to them:
Though there are the usual cranes and medal games, a selection of video titles does place this one firmly in the ‘something for everyone’ category, a philosophy not completely ignored in spite of the industry there focusing more on the former. With it being a Koei Tecmo location, Dead Or Alive is indeed playable, via 6’s inclusion on the Sega APM3 cabinets there.
Game Enoki (Takamatsu, Japan)
Another Japan opening here, this one notably being a smaller independent. These do still appear over there from time to time but have understandably became scarcer than before, especially since the pandemic. Going against that grain though are Enoki Takamatsu, who opened just as we published our last Location Watch at the end of September:
Largely running various rhythm games by the likes of Konami and Sega without even a single UFO crane or gatchapon dispenser in sight, this place goes to show how that genre has probably came to occupy the space that fighters once did in terms of core game players popularity. It’d still be nice to see somewhere new like this for exA-Arcadia one day.
Timezone (Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand)
Continuing their vast expansion previously mentioned in the last LW, Timezone has opened further locations over in the Philippines. From their Linkedin page, these are located in Robinsons Galleria, Manila, and Ayala Malls Trinoma, Quezon City. They have also opened a location in New Zealand in conjunction with Zone Bowling.