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Issue Date: Vol. 43, No. 11, November 2003, Posted On: 11/11/2003


Secrets, Scapegoats And Schedules


Marcus Webb

Official Washington, DC, roiled and broiled in October, thanks to an overblown scandal about anonymous White House sources who leaked the identity of a CIA agent. Coin-op officialdom also railed and roiled over its own leak controversy during October. Leaders of the Amusement and Music Operators Association and the American Amusement Machine Association asked themselves: "Who told the trade press about the impasse that is blocking efforts to unify AMOA Expo with AAMA's Amusement Showcase International?"

At this writing, the leak controversy has been resolved. The source of the story stepped forward and - in an act of class, courage and conscientiousness , identified himself to his colleagues, with an apology for any unintended consequences. As it happened, the true source was not the person who had been universally assumed to be responsible.

A word about keeping secrets: it cannot be done in this industry. Secrets that are not leaked deliberately, are spilled accidentally. However, it is possible to keep sensitive material out of the trade press. How? Simply tell the media, under the condition that the information is confidential and cannot be printed unless and until it becomes general knowledge. Information is power, but if that power is going to be exercised, then the information has to be used strategically. Just sitting on a hot story and hoping it won't surface, is not a strategy.

The coin-op leak controversy was a sideshow to two larger tempests over AMOA's 2004 show dates and the possible merger of AMOA Expo with ASI. The 2004 question was resolved because AMOA demonstrated flexibility and responsiveness by changing its dates twice in a single month, to avoid conflicts with religious holidays and other trade events.

By the way, one of AMOA's earlier proposed dates (since changed) drew some sniping from European trade members. The Europeans want to see Japan's new games at their shows. They fear that if prototypes are scarce and dates are tight, the new Japanese games will be shown in America, not Europe. It's an understandable concern. But the Europeans need to do a better job of communicating their show dates in advance. We found it impossible to locate the relevant information anywhere on the Internet (only a plea for help to our Ireland-based columnist Martin Dempsey cleared up the confusion).

Controversy over the AMOA-ASI show merger idea continues to rumble. Part of the impasse to merging the shows arises from timing issues. Spring show backers cite several reasons for their preference. ASI and Fun Expo exhibitors say their buyers do their heaviest buying in the spring. They say if there's going to be a single national coin-op amusement show, it should be positioned as far as possible from that fall juggernaut, IAAPA, which so many of amusement exhibitors see as mandatory.

Supporters of a fall show have advanced two main arguments: street operators do their main buying in the fall, presumably because that's when players move back indoors to taverns and other street locations. And, fall has long been AMOA's traditional season (this tradition began decades ago, apparently because back then, fall was when jukebox manufacturers introduced their new models).

One observer close to the merger talks told VT: "The single biggest obstacle to a merger is unanswered questions about money. Would a combined show generate the revenue now made by one show? If so, that's not enough to support the current budgets of AMOA and AAMA. Would a combined show generate more money, as organizer William T. Glasgow Co. says has happened with show mergers in other industries? Maybe, but there is no guarantee."

More than one party close to the talks has also said: "With all the egos, obstacles and questions to a merger, it will only happen when one side or the other , or both , suffers enough pain to make them take the leap." We've heard that prediction before, and so far it has always come true.

Topic: Editorial: Music and Games

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  • Lessons Learned From The Life Of The Mad Mogul Felix Dennis
  • Can Operators Cash In On Heavy Summer Traffic?
  • Are Vendors Adapting Too Slowly To Changing Retail Landscape?

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