Supple Think: Arcade Survival

Arcade Survival

by BrentoBox

Posted on Tuesday, February 3, 2009 Recently a few friends and I have been discussing what makes a great arcade. It's no secret that arcades are effectively dead in America, and the discussion has been done to death as to why. Consoles with superior graphics and online play are generally considered the culprit, and are the reason why they aren't likely to make comback. But was there ever something more that arcades offered, and can still offer to gamers? I believe so, but it would mean a complete shift in how arcades have traditionally operated.

I believe the only things arcade have left to offer if they are going to survive is community, and that is what they are going to have to push and promote if they are going to remain at all successful. They can't get by just offering a place to play games anymore. Everyone has that now for free.

Evo 2008

What gamers don’t have is a place to meet other gamers face to face; a home away from home for playing games and meeting with friends. Arcades have always supplied this and it’s the one thing they still have above console. But up till now, community has been a byproduct of people coming to play games. It hasn't been focused on as something that should be replenished and upgraded, the same way you would do upkeep on a cabinet or get the latest releases. I think it needs to be taken to a new level in order to be a great business model. Arcades are going to have to make community building and support the most important thing they offer, above games and cabinets.

This could mean a lot of things. Organizing and holding consistent, well advertised weekly tournaments. Maybe sponsoring a team and sending them to major comps (I know this might be expensive for start-ups), or even organizing a league for your city/region that is run through your establishment. I am not saying any of those things are easy to do, but I think they are the one thing that arcades can still supply that no other business can, and it’s something I have not seen any establishment do. Places like lan-centers seem to be attempting to be a place for gamers, but they are usually too expensive, and don’t offer anything beyond a comfortable place to play with nice chairs. I can’t go to a lan-center (at least in the Seattle area) and know for sure that I will meet the kind of people I want to meet, and compete in the games I want to compete in.

As far as cost models and how much to charge goes, that is something that would have to get worked out. I personally believe that a quality Bubble Tea shop with a 25cent Marvel cabinet would ruin me.

To sum up, it basically comes down to this. Arcades used be profitable because they supplied games to gamers; which couldn't be played anywhere else. Now, they need to supply community and purpose to gamers, because that is something they aren't getting anywhere else. Article Permalink



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