The Death of the Arcade

As someone who spent many a wayward afternoons wasting both time and money at the arcade, it’s been depressing to think both advances in home gaming and their lack of profitability have essential made them endangered species. The biggest factor in their demise, however, is America’s reliance on the quarter.

“My feeling is that this really had a negative impact on the arcade business. You go to the arcade and there was such a range of games. It was amazing when we had this golden age.”

What remains today, Cerny says, is Japan as the single shelter for arcade gaming. And that boils down to their 100 Yen coin.

“Our economy is based on the quarter,” he said. “We lobbied Washington several times to get a dollar coin because we felt if it was just pocket change, it’s in your pocket, you put it in a machine. If you need a dollar to play you can have a ten minute experience.”

Of course, there efforts didn’t really come to fruition. While in Japan, arcades were able to standardize the 100 Yen coin for their machines.

It was that single change, moving from 50 Yen to 100 Yen, that revived the Japanese arcade industry, Cerny said.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hymanator May 8, 2011, 8:59 pm

    Out of all the things to blame the death of the arcade industry, the best thing you can come up with is the American quarter?! As soon as the 16-bit consoles arrived, we started seeing home ports of popular arcade games such as Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II. People had less of a need to visit an arcade because they could just play the games at home. Arcades used to have a "movie theater" business model where games such as Mortal Kombat II would hit arcades first, and people would flock to the arcade to play the game many months before a home version was released. Imagine if game companies still did this practice today, people would come to arcades in droves if they could play AAA blockbuster games before they are released for home consoles. The other factor that made arcades die off is the insane price tag to purchase an arcade machine. It's hard to charge people 25 or 50 cents a game and make a profit when the arcade machine costs over 5,000 dollars by itself. The US government also charges a high tax for running an arcade business on top of that. The final nail in the coffin for the arcade industry is the internet. People want achievements, trophies, and online connectivity.

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