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Fans, Not Traditional Operators, Power 'Second Wave' Of Video Arcades

Posted On: 2/26/2012

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Video game, videogame arcade, Seth Killian, Capcom, Namco, Japanese video game, arcade video games, coin-op video game, classic video game, family entertainment center, Game Center Arcade, Arturo Angulo, Simong Truong, Cameron Berkenpas, co- Southtown Arcade

SAN FRANCISCO -- Capcom's director of online and community strategy Seth Killian said that the original generation of videogame fans from 30 and 40 years ago are powering what he termed a "second wave" of video arcades.

According to a copyrighted story in Wired magazine, these aging players are opening modern-day versions of the "hole in the wall" arcades that flourished in the 1970s and '80s, before being largely replaced by family entertainment centers. | SEE STORY

This second-wave arcade phenomenon has led to "gritty little storefront" arcades in San Francisco, New York, Austin and elsewhere, the publication reported.

The new breed of arcade owners includes people like Jared Rea, proprietor of the Game Center Arcade in San Francisco, and Arturo Angulo, Simong Truong and Cameron Berkenpas, co-owners of the nearby Southtown Arcade. Rea said he decided to open his site after traditional video-based arcades become "almost nonexistent."

Angulo complained that when the new breed of old-style videogame arcade owners attempt to purchase products directly from Japanese manufacturers, "they've been less than responsive to say the least." Small videogame arcades often "can't get the games" that players want because these products are largely confined to Japanese distribution channels, he said.

U.S. subsidiaries of such Japanese factories as Capcom and Namco have been far more helpful, Angulo said. But he lamented that the cost of coin-op product can run as high as $12,000 for an upgrade PCB. The new breed of arcade owners, much like traditional operators, find this pricing difficult to accept in an era of $50 home videogames.

Wired said that most U.S. players believe that videogame arcades are "completely dead and buried" and that the second wave of the old-fashioned, coin-operated videogame storefront operations remains "a well-kept secret" so far.