What’s the Future of Arcades?

Arcades haven’t gone anywhere, you just forgot about them. There’s one in every town. Some towns have a single game sitting in the back of a dusty convenience store; others have sprawling warehouses filled with classic and next generation games. The problem arcades face nowadays isn’t location, it’s the growth of online gaming.

Once upon a time, the arcade, like the soda shop of old, was the place to hang out. It didn’t matter if you had one quarter, or a hundred, there was always something to play, watch or experience.  Afternoons were spent standing back and watching another player master the intricacies of their favorite game. There were no cheat codes or walkthroughs. To get to that next level required either practice, or picking the brain of the wiser and more-skilled gamer. Rivalries were born when high scores, marked by three-letter abbreviations, were taken down. Nowadays, hitting a couple buttons connects you to server-filled portals of friends and strangers, all self-proclaimed masters in their game of choice. Social gaming involves typing with a keyboard or using a microphone. In the good ol’ days, arcades were the only place to play social games.

As the future becomes the present, and technology advances, people have become accustomed to instant-gratification and fingertip convenience. Look no further than the NFL. For years, stadium ticket sales have decreased, as people begin enjoying the experience of watching a game at home more. At home a person has their TV(s), their computer to check their fantasy team, a fridge full of goodies and the Red Zone channel. All stadiums offer is a live game and uncomfortable seats. Hence, many stadiums are attempting to create the “at home” experience while at the stadium; adding more screens around the stadium, adding free Wi-Fi and posting fantasy stats on the scoreboard. To bring it all back around, perhaps this concept is what has made you forget about the arcade. Should the arcade environment be more like playing games at home?

Going to an arcade has always been the difference between watching a blockbuster action movie on your computer a year after it was released, and going to that same movie, opening night, in IMAX. The arcade has always provided a unique environment and atmosphere you just couldn’t duplicate at home. Is making the arcade feel more convenient and comfortable the answer?

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