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Sports & Play, Tech

Arcade Games Dead, Says News

Posted by Jeremy / February 19, 2008

video game arcadesWhile reading about the slow, steady death of Toronto's video game arcades today on CityNews, I couldn't help thinking of the hours I spent in my own childhood pumping coins into those sleek machines, my eyes transfixed by glorious destruction in that flickering gloom. I never frequented arcades myself, but remember vividly going to birthday parties at some of the cleaner ones, and having to be literally dragged away from games like Terminator 2 and The Simpsons. The joys of all that candy-coloured, marvelously addictive fantasy still linger.

Yes, arcades are on the way out. Why go to Yonge Street to a dingy place that smells like BO and ramen noodles when you can stay home and play Halo in the privacy of your own room while your mom makes you sandwiches?

I wonder, though, if CityNews' Michael Talbot has been to Pacific Mall's Playscape recently, or any of the other, newer arcades that dot the outer suburbs. On a recent trip there I was amazed at the popularity of games like DanceDance Revolution, GuitarFreaks, and DrumMania. While the shooting things games and driving around games were mostly empty, there was a steady parade of Asian teenagers dropping tokens into these music and dance-type machines, and pulling out the most insane moves you've ever seen.

While home console games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band are beginning to draw even these diehards away from the arcades, it will be a while before anyone will be able to make a DDR machine as satisfying as the ones in the arcades. Also, the most popular games at Playscape were not electronic at all, surprisingly enough, but old-time favourites like foosball and air hockey. Go figure.

The arcades of Yonge are over, but they were never really that nice anyway. The future of arcades, if indeed there is one, is bigger games with more complicated interfaces like the ones at Pacific Mall. The future of arcades, too, is in the suburbs.

photo: Lost Tulsa

Discussion

24 Comments

Jordan / February 19, 2008 at 04:23 pm
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There's a few arcades here in London that are still pretty busy - there's one in Soho constantly filled with 20-something's dancing it out in the window. Besides - I'm pretty sure there still building chucky cheeses around ontario - someone must like the places...
bart / February 19, 2008 at 04:23 pm
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Also, if you consider the internet cafes that cater to multiplayer video games there's probably a lot more "arcades" today than ever. I just think the form of the arcade is changing as the games themselves change and so obviously the old style arcades are on the way out. Nevertheless, I'm willing to bet that if someone were to invest in creating a Playscape or Playdium type place downtown with lots of newer interactive and group oriented games (like ddr, foosball, pool, and air hockey) it wouldn't have any trouble succeeding.
J / February 19, 2008 at 04:53 pm
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Super Sprint, Chase HQ, Badlands, then SF2 and Mortal Kombat.. at the local strip mall. Although heading downtown to play that Sega holographic game was pretty fun too.
Ry Tron / February 19, 2008 at 04:58 pm
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The thing with arcade cabinets is that they are extremely expensive, both to develop and for arcade owners to purchase. It takes a lot of coin to get a worthwhile ROI and companies just aren't seeing it anymore. Sega/Sammy used to have a thriving business, and nowadays they post consistent losses.

"bigger games with more complicated interfaces" are hardly needed at all. The more complex the interface the less likely the person will A: understand what to do, and B: Drop another loonie for a second try. I think what you might've meant instead are more grandiose looking arrangements. Heck, the cabinet in the photo, The Simpsons Arcade Game, is still heralded as one of the best beat-em-ups ever, up there with Turtles in Time, and it only had two buttons (jump and attack).
Chris Orbz / February 19, 2008 at 06:09 pm
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"I'm willing to bet that if someone were to invest in creating a Playscape or Playdium type place downtown with lots of newer interactive and group oriented games (like ddr, foosball, pool, and air hockey) it wouldn't have any trouble succeeding."

I guess you don't realize that concept failed exactly where CiRCA now resides?

I was at Pacific Mall yesterday, their arcade was rammed no problem. Downtowners would rather be in the Apple Store though, it seems.
lance / February 19, 2008 at 06:55 pm
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of course the funland is dying. they have only few machines that's actually fun to play. name a few on top of my head. wagana maximum tune, DDR, street fighter III. I've been waiting for them to get "Initial D 4" like forever, but they never gets it in. they can't expect the same old machines to make them money forever. there are newer and much better arcade systems out there to attract players in. just go look at Playdium in Mississagua.

like all business, if you don't keep up with the trends, you are doom.
Keith / February 19, 2008 at 09:36 pm
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I agree with Bart that there are probably more "arcades" now that ever before, just the physical location have been moved to the convenience of the bedroom or living room instead of an actual store.
The Pladium concept was always going to be short lived. The moment that you start paying the same prices to play video games that they charge at Wonderland I think the concept was doomed. I remember going to Playdium and walking out an hour later with $40 dollars less in my wallet.
I will always remember playing Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, NBA Jam, Lethal Enforcers, or Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I remember when there was this pizza place around the corner from me that had Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam and $2.00 two slice/pop combo.
terence / February 20, 2008 at 12:40 am
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time crisis 2 will never be surpassed.
Stevie C / February 20, 2008 at 04:57 am
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Arcades r now redemption and a handfull of really good video games.We operate games for a living and redemption is the new kings of the arcade. Simple as that
Sean Galbraith / February 20, 2008 at 08:42 am
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The storefront next to my gallery is being used solely to store arcade games. I'm dying to get in an play.
Joe Howell / February 20, 2008 at 11:08 pm
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From the CityNews story:
"Have something to say about video arcades? Join the Blogto.com discussion here."

Is this a regular thing? I find it absolutely amazing that a major outlet would link to a blog for comment. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing - just a surprising sign of the times. Anyway, I wanted to mention the X-Men arcade game, which was incredible. I remember turning 10 bucks into quarters (a fortune for me at the time) so I could play all the way through it. Those were the days.
funland regular / February 20, 2008 at 11:19 pm
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they should do an aricle on the staff at funland.

everytime i go there the black guy, or the tall guy with glass, or the big white guy ALWAYS smokes. they have a sticker sign "no smoke zone" on the front counter yet they smoke themselves AT the front counter.

i used to go to funland almost everyday but now i'm limiting myself to once every week because of all the second hand smoking i get from funland. no wonder the kids aren't going there anymore.
Videogame Fan(atic!) / February 20, 2008 at 11:37 pm
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Funland is the poster child for why arcades are failing. Dark, dirty, smelly enviorment .. old-ass games with graphics worse than what you can get at home .. non-upgradeable systems that you basically throw out when it's time to get a new game.

These days you can even buy arcade replica controllers that are pretty much the same as what they have in the arcades, so even that is covered.

Arcades fell behind the times and refused to catch up, and now it's showing, badly. I think they have nobody to blame but themselves for their failure. They ran out of compelling reasons to go to an arcade, and didn't make any new ones.
LB / February 21, 2008 at 09:45 am
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I loved funland as a kid. it was "The PLace" when summer came along , it was a gathering point for kids on Yonge street. Kind of sad to see it now. me and my fiance still wander in the odd time when downtown to play a little centipede. But the one thing funland still offers that most dont anymore is PINBALL. if you love REAL pinball machines and balk at those lame ps2/3 and xbox classic pinball simulations, then head down to funland, play a few games, take a few pics, cause its gonna be history pretty soon. (funland hilights for me - Pinball , Tron (in the corner) ,Marble Madness, Music video jukebox, and of course centipede with my better half more recently. cheers all. take it easy
mc / February 25, 2008 at 10:40 am
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I agree with Lance's statements. Hoenstly all you need is a crash course in marketing to see what's wrong with the picture. You become "a dying breed" only because you don't change to what your customers want. If your customers aren't going to play your old stuff anymore, that's a clue that the old stuff isn't working. The occasional people that stop in for a game? Do something to make them come back. Gaming in arcades still is popular, take Pacific Mall's arcade for example. The DDR/Drummania machines are ALWAYS loaded with friends playing and watching each other, and DDR Extreme isn't even new anymore. What people want is the experience it offers them when they play DDR outside versus at home (because DDR IS available at home, and quite cheapy, and even FREE if you download it on your computer and buy a mat for it -- but people still spend $$$ on it).

What's not in is games where one person sits down and plays until their quarters run out. There's more excitment in palying games in public where the music is booming and lights are flashing and all your friends are on some high with you. As for shooting games, you can play in your own home and concentrate better, even. My brother can sit for ages infront of the TV playing those sort of games, but I'm sure he wouldn't do so in an arcade.

So, what should arcades do? Make games that bring people together and attract friends. Update the place so it doesn't look like some place stuck in the 70s. Is it so hard to figure out it's not "new games" you need (the ones people can rent for $8 at Blockbuster) anymore to keep up with the game?
John M / March 4, 2008 at 05:45 pm
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The Arcades Extinct?! Never. Sure they may be diminishing with a Ms. PAc-Man game in the background, but it's what we grew up with. And you just can't kill off the arcades, just because we have powerful home gaming consoles and pc's that enable us to play those games at home.
There are still hundreds of unsung arcade games that should be explored and discovered. But the arcade was a place to chill out, have fun. Sure there were problems of gambling, loitering, and even tapped out gammers, but in a sense the arcades could be brought back to the community with heightened security and cameras to prevent suspicious activity. The games would have a major update of the classic home games that won't be available to play at home. In other words, they have to come to the arcade to play it. Plus there would be no way to emulate them, for the games wouldn't be programed on the system. But accessed by the company's main pc, that would send the game to the unit and make it playable by them only. In other words, If you want to play my games, you have to contact me with the game unit that would send off a special signal to give the company the ok to make contact and play the game. And you wouldn't be able to do this with the internet and the home pc.
tye-on / February 15, 2009 at 12:54 am
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Anyone know where I can buy the x-men arcade 4 or six player machine?
Meh / July 30, 2009 at 08:37 pm
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Judging from the pic, their machines/games look quite old and outdated. When you're in the arcade business, no one likes to play the same old boring games. If you dont have fun and new multilayer games (& keep up with the trend), then you will run out of business.
People go out to arcades with friends and want to have a good time (and play new stuff). Instead of only having games you can also put in photo booths (sticker photos), plushie machines (which really eat your coins), and tossing coins and getting prizes (you cant do that at home). If you cant keep up with the trend (b/c this is a business targeted to youngsters), then you should find a new business (like bingo).

Just look at the arcade in Pacific Mall, there are always people in there playing. And arcades are definitely thriving in other countries - its time to ask what you are not doing or doing wrong, instead of saying people are not into arcades anymore.
Prayedybrence / November 29, 2009 at 09:30 am
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I just received a bluetooth headset and cannot get it to turn on. I have it charging and connected to the playstation. It shows that it is charging by flashing red but when I try to turn the power on nothing happens. How do I fix this? Thanks!
Sharptooth T-Rex / December 19, 2009 at 05:08 pm
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I assure you that video arcades are supposed to be fun and amusing. I am a big arcade fan and I never get enough of video arcades. There might be a video arcade at the Canadian National Tower which I use to play those games. I know the X-box; Playstation 2; Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo Game Cube have famous arcade hits from Midway; Namco and Capcom. I have those games for those systems. I think there should be a Twin Galaxies Tournament in the Mississauga Playdium which is why I would go there.
maragay / January 4, 2010 at 05:26 pm
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So that said, is there any place downtown where you can play foosball and have a beer and maybe play some video games? There used to be a place on Richmond I think? Now it's pool halls or nothing. Anyone know of a foosball hall?
gissanoTall / January 17, 2010 at 04:06 pm
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please excuse my english, it is not the very good...

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Simon Tarses replying to a comment from bart / June 29, 2012 at 09:42 am
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The 'smart people' that ran Playdium Toronto would have had much better success in that sphere if they'd bought a building a Yonge & Dundas and built it there; if they had, Playdium Toronto might still be flourishing.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from tye-on / June 29, 2012 at 11:16 am
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You can buy the game in question on the Play Station Network or X-Box Live.

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