Fading lights: the rise and fall of video game arcades

Is the arcade parlour dead or just pining for the fjords?

So is converting to a family-friendly focus really a step in the right direction?

“As far as a step in the right direction, I would have to ask, to what end; for families, or for the industry, or for players?,” Wolf said. “It all depends on what you have to offer... If public places can come up with new gaming situations, especially ones you can’t duplicate at home, they will flourish.”

Survival of the fittest

Arcade games like Dance Dance Revolution boast increased physical interaction, but consoles are gaining pace and threatening to overshadow arcades once again.

The Wii continues to climb the popularity ladder, Sony is bringing out the Move for the Playstation and Microsoft is pushing Project Natal — now called Kinect — all of which aim to be interactive and keep families at home. Arcade gaming may lose its edge yet again.

To rub salt into the wound, Microsoft recently launched its Xbox LIVE Game Room, which is pretty much a virtual arcade loaded with retro games delivered straight to the home. You can even wander around its virtual playground as a spectator — just like the parlours of yore.

As for face-to-face interaction with other human beings, it doesn’t seem to be much of a concern for modern gamers.

There are more than 20 million Xbox LIVE users, the PlayStation Network has 17 million and Valve’s Steam now boasts over 25 million members. So many people favour the online multiplayer experience.

Game over?

From cutting-edge graphics to multiplayer games, everything that made arcades unique has been replicated on our PCs and consoles. So the question is: do we still need arcade parlours? I'm partial to saying yes.

Don’t you want to be able to beat somebody in a game face-to-face and be able to shout “in your face” while simultaneously doing a happy dance to shame them? To a complete stranger? While a bunch of other strangers watch on?

I think that arcade parlours still have a role, as a way for gamers to network on a more personal level; where the opponent beating you in Street Fighter IV isn’t just some disembodied voice streaming through a lopsided headset.

It's nice to have a place to meet likeminded people face to face without the pressures of making awkward conversation. Just pop some coins into a game cabinet and let the fingers do the talking.

So it is comforting to know Hankin is optimistic. He knows the golden years of arcades are well and truly gone, but there is definitely improvement.

“I think the market has shrunk but it starting to pick up momentum,” he said. “The industry has rationalised; we know the formula that works. It is a combination of the right machines and the right location.”

Uribe was also adamant the arcade business will endure. “An arcade might die, but the industry will not die,” he said. Now as before: its life force is in our change pocket.

Follow GamePro Australia on Twitter: @GameProAu

Tags games

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Spandas Lui

GamePro Australia

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?