At one time, video game arcades could be found in every town and city in the world, this of course was pre-internet days and the atmosphere of an arcade was unlike any other gaming experience around. Crowds gathered around machines to see their favorite local players perform, and there was a general buzz of anticipation when a new game was wheeled in and installed.
Today the video arcade is almost extinct but there are still pockets of resistance that are bucking the trend and staying open. These arcades follow new business models and are turning a once defunct business into a thriving success. One of the biggest changes has been to move away from a coin-based business and other forms of payment are now accepted.
The Traditional Town Arcade
Believe it or not there are still some old school arcades dotted around the world, normally owned by people who live and breathe arcade games and who would rather die than to close the town’s only gaming arcade. They mix old ‘80s and ‘90s cabinets with new more sophisticated machines that have cup holders and other useful additions. These arcades have changed from pay per game to paying for a set amount of time, which invariably gets extended. The fees levied are around $5 for thirty minutes playing time and $7 for a whole hour which encourages the players to opt for the longer time. Many such businesses have to supplement their incomes through other complementary sources. This often includes incorporating arcades with bars, that way the laid-back atmosphere remains the same, but the arcade remains solvent.
Booze and Arcades
Alcohol and gaming are not always the best of companions, and one reason is that arcades and bars need different licenses. This means a district that will allow you to operate a bar will not necessarily allow you permission to open an arcade. In San Francisco, there has been an arcade prohibition that has been in place since the 1930s, as arcades were just seen as extension of gambling. And even as time progressed things did not get any better. Arcades were associated with truancy and there was a ban on arcades being based anywhere near schools or churches. The new name for these arcades that also sell booze is Brewcade, and these businesses tend to still operate on the old coin system. The reason for this is the business model is based around nostalgia and by feeding a machine with coins brings back many happy memories.
Serving beer and other alcoholic drinks whilst keeping an arcade running sounds like a tall order. But the main income is obviously from the bar take. Having said that the new Brewcades are making their own niche in a saturated food and beverage industry. Having a quirky gimmick may make all the difference if your bar stays open or not, and video gaming might just prove the allure to bring patrons through your door. Video arcades are having to drastically change to keep alive, but they still exist serving the community as they have always done so.