A discussion about a northwest arcade


#1

I just wanted to talk a bit about, how it would be possible to run an arcade in the NW (well, washington, but i’m sure there’d be some OR love here and there).

I think that, each arcade in Washington has strengths and weaknesses, and I was wondering if you guys could post what you LIKE about each arcade, and also what you dislike, or wish they could do differently. ALSO, welcoming ANY ideas of what YOU would like to see at an arcade, or what you think the public in general would like to see, and if a balance could be struck (because if it was up to me, it’d be like a row of 30 Astro City sitdown cabs and then 10 Wangan Midnight cabs, haha).

Tacoma Narrows:
Pluses: Ran by Bill, who is a class act and actually cares about what we gamers think. Has SFIV, Wangan and a few other cool machines there, all well maintained. PHO!!! PHO!!! PHO!!!
Minuses: No freeplay for tournies (haven’t been in a minute, correct me if wrong), Kinda ghettoish Japanese/American hybrid layout, Tacoma location is HORRIBLE for the majority of us to drive to. Also, DA WOLF!!! David Alverez is the only Tacoma Native I would like to be seen associating with, honestly Tacoma is grimey as hell.
What I would change: Honestly a lot of those cabinets seem like wastes of space. I have never seen ANYONE play that goofy looking paintball game. The Marvel controls are ass and that cab is RIDICULOUSLY small, no one plays on it, it’s a waste of that board.

Gameworks
Pluses: Decent, centralized location. Comfortable interior, Nate (their tech) is a tourney player so he is ONE OF US. You can get food there (haven’t eaten it myself but it’s a plus).
Minuses: PRICE, it is pretty expensive to play at Gameworks. NO fucking parking, even at like 10:30pm me and Mike parked at fucking PIKE PLACE and walked cus there was nothing closer.
What I would change: There are some shitty filler games I see never getting play there (that ugly graphics taxi driving game…) Also, I fucking HATE the credit card system where you can never tell exactly how much in DOLLARS you are paying for a goddamn game. It feels like they are trying to “cheat” you out of .13047575 of a dollar out of your confusion, which is not how customers should be treated, IMO.

Also, I have a lot of anger towards GW for how I was treated by the employees when I was around 12-14 years old just trying to play games. Mainly, the assumption that I was a criminal not spending any money, and annoying older people who actually mattered. I’ve been kicked out of GW with no explanation whatsoever from the staff. This was about 10 years ago, and now that I am older I am treated with respect by the staff, but I will never forget.

ACME Bowl

Great little place, also owned by Bill (mvco on SRK), so you know it’s professionally done and classy.
Pros: GREAT GREAT GREAT location. Bajillion parking spaces. CLEAN interior with plenty of staff available, drinks and food. Some good games in there. Very decent prices, you can play a while here, they have the right pricing in that, you are spending money, but not enough to notice. Also I LOVE it when machines run on actual quarters instead of tokens, it means sometimes I can raid my change jar and go to the arcade without having hard cash on hand.
Cons: Not enough redemption games ( I LOVE redemption games), has Blaze Blue but no other fighters worth mentioning, which is too bad, if it had SFIV it would be THE SPOT, I am not SHITTING YOU. I really don’t think Bill is appreciating how much more business he would get from northsiders at Acme if he had an SFIV cab, but I think the Narrows management doesn’t want him to have one there, or something.

Gametown
Ahhhh, Gametown. A LOT of NW players have a lot of fond memories of this place. There was a lot to like: Marvel, CvS2, ST, and an MVS cabinet. However, the controls were usually useable to borderline shitty as fuck, never, EVER approaching excellent. Also, the owner guy REFUSED, POSITIVELY REFUSED, to slow down the timer on KOF '98. When KOF 98 is on the fastest and second fastest settings, literally EVERY round ends in timeouts, so you never actually “beat” your opponent. When we complained, he said that he didn’t want people sitting on it in 1player mode all day on one credit. I lived literally 4 minutes from Gametown in Seatac and was there all the time, but when he said that I stopped going until he closed down. I literally felt like he decided my enjoyment of the experience was worth less than cheaping people out of a few minutes extra play before they beat 1 player mode during the day.

To their credit, they often would fix shit if you asked nicely, and they treated us pretty well, but the timer issue was inexcuseable, and he lost two regular customers in me and Nate (XTG) because of it. We were ONLY there to play KOF '98.
Pros: Decent location though somewhat Seedy, parking lot was pretty annoying to try to navigate cus of angled slots on a sharp little incline. Good game SELECTION without great cabs. GOOD assortment of food and drinks for marathon sessions, PC access, clean convenient to use bathroom.
Negatives: C- grade controls, never any NEW latest and greatest games or “deluxe” games. Not the most appreciative customer service.

Now closed arcades, just for discussion’s sake:

FUNPLEX

As Mandel will Attest…FUNPLEX WAS THE FUCKING SHIT. I remember every saturday, going there. They had a TON of space. I never bothered with mini golf or lazer tag after the first time, but it was there. Lots of parking space, TONS AND TONS of games, from deluxe Sega stuff that probably costed more than a Lexus, to classics like Punch Out! and Karate Champ. Also TONS of fighters with AMAZING controls, and REALLY NICE attendants who would RUSH to fix any problems. Only place I knew where if a machine ate your quarter and you were 8 years old, the attendant would smile and give you a credit or two on the machine, instead of give you a cold stare like you were trying to steal a porkchop from his dinner plate. Great, great memories of this place, and the only reason why I am on this site at all.
Pros: Everything.
Cons: That it doesn’t exist anymore. One day showed up and the front door had a piece of paper taped to it that said “We’ve moved to tacoma!” as far as I know, they never did? edit: I forgot, since Funplex was at the trainyard, you could often smell diesel fumes, but who cared when Marvel Super Heroes vs SF was new??

Command Center:

IMO this is the type of arcade I would emulate should I make one. This was a small place in Renton, right off of Ranier (right next to the Panda Express in front of Fred Meyers). Had MORE FIGHTERS THAN YOU COULD IMAGINE COULD FIT IN AN ARCADE THE SIZE OF A RICH WOMAN’S CLOSET. VF2, KI 1 and 2, MVS w/ random SNK fighters, MSH, COTA, XvSF, HOLLOSEUM (If any of you remember this RARE GAME!!!) The owner was a kinda crazy looking old white guy, but super nice and would run to fix any problems or give credits or put more quarters in the change machine. This place also had a lot of kewl non-fighters too. Not enough room for any deluxe cabs though.
Pros: CHEAP to play, “homie” location (I hate lots of space in my arcades, it’s an arcade not a minimalist modern highrise apartment).
Cons: Not enough big racing games or WOW 3-D type titles. Was around for some time though.

Quarters:

This place was right down the hill from Preppy’s place, where the Taco Del Mar and a few other businesses are now, they split Quarters’ property into a couple different businesses.

Pros: SHITLOAD of room and games. LOTS of deluxe cabinets, as well as multiple HUGE projection SF2 cabs around 1992 and LONG LINES for each of them. Good amount of pinball, redemption, and lightgun and racing games. Short lived “Virtual Reality” game that costed 5$ for 5 minutes and had an human operator there who would tell you how to play. (BAD IDEA haha)

Cons: None, this was IMO the perfect arcade along with Funplex.

Silvercoin:
The heart of Seattle Marvel. A place where people would get their faces smashed into the monitor for winning too much.

Pros: Good management (?) who supported the tourney scene. Random ass DBZ fighting game, LOL. Good controls generally, nice looking clean cabinets.
Cons: NO VENTILATION, literally smelled like ass half the time. And I like “homey” arcades but this shit was WAY too small for their player base.


Thoughts on what a good arcade needs:

I don’t see why EVERY arcade doesn’t just invest in an MVS 6-slot. It’s the ULTIMATE in economical hardware, there is pretty much NO chance that you won’t have people playing on it constantly if you have a good supply of KOF’s in there, should your arcade location have enough Mexicans around. I even think an MVS dedicated for fighters, and one for random other SNK games is a super economical use of floorspace to profitability. No idea why more American arcades don’t do this.

I also wonder what you guys think about japanese cabinets and controls. IMO they are great, but I wonder if they would turn off “casual” gamers that you would need to survive?

Obviously, this is Seattle so a marvel stand up cab with P360’s and Happ convex in a straight alignment is a MUST.

What about DDR, do you guys think DDR still attracts people and keeps arcades open like it was claimed to a few years ago? What versions?

Anything else you guys can think of pertaining to the business side of arcades, I would love to see. Portland guys, please let me know what you guys think as well. :tup:

edit: Another idea I had. Arcade Ops constantly have more working games then are out on the floor. I am wondering why you couldn’t have a little placard next to your MVS and CPS2 and Naomi dedicated cabs that says “Also available, games X,Y, and Z. Just ask us!” or something, so if on a slow day, a person sees say, ST on the CPS2 cab, but they don’t like ST, and they would LOVE to play Aliens vs Predator Beat 'em up, why can’t the Op take five minutes to switch out a board and make some money??


#2

How dare you talk about closed arcades, but don’t talk about Silver Coin. Do you even know your Seattle history?

And mac at GT was the shit, he’d let me put on all my trance CD’s that I would buy at SouthCenter, and the I’d let him copy them them on to his computer for future use.

The sticks from what I remember were awesome, of course this was when we had tournaments there.

Quarters was cool, on the fact that Silver Coin was no more.

Did I mention the Silver Coin arcade? And the tournaments that Rat and Sean would run?

I remember they had at one point, Marvel, CvS2, SC2, GGXX, Tekken Tag, that random DBZ fighting game, and some DDR version that hella ppl played on. Plus a bunch of other games but yeah.


#3

Ah yes, I was just trying to get that posted before my fucking browser crashed on my POS computer, Frank. Lemme update.

But also remember, I played CvS2 at the time and was training for when CvS2 and Marvel were both ran on the same day, then I talked to Ratt one day and asked him when CvS2 was starting, and he said that the previous one was the last CvS2 tourney… so I didn’t get into the scene in earnest for years later, unfortunately.

edit: Edited, could I get your input now Frank? I think you’d have some really thoughtful comments on this topic.

I am also wondering, do you guys think PC internet cafe stuff is good, or branches out too much? How important is food in the arcade to you? What would make you be willing to drive out more?


#4

Silver Coin is where it all happened.


#5

Also if you’re going to get DDR, I’d rather suggest Pump it UP. At least that way you could get mandel and I up in that bitch or evern super joe’s corny ass.


#6

Seattle Funplex was so raw. I have so many fuckin memories from that place. I remember seeing cabinets for Punch Out, Ring King, Mace, Vampire Hunter, Run N Gun, Rival Schools, Spiderman adventure game, the old skool X-Men game, just to list a few. They even had Marvel 1. They did move to Tacoma and I visited that location one time, but it was a graveyard. Nowhere near a shadow of it’s former self.

I think food is great, if there aren’t any food places in the area. I think computers would be good, could attract more people there. I definitely think any arcade that sets up in our area, should bite Lanwerx for the console room. That was a dope ass idea. Especially in this day and age with all the new console fighters and stuff. Also I have no issues with Japanese cabinets.


#7

I never go to go to lanwerx.

Did they have their own consoles there, or did you bring your own in and rent the tv useage or something?


#8

I always see a shitload of people play the new In The Groove 2 games and also you can load your own songs onto that shit via USB drives.


#9

that would probably explain why i heard these 2 white boys playing along to soljia boy…or however you fucking spell his name


#10

If you want successful arcade i suggest getting a bunch redemption arcades…Those are the ones that make the most money…

Also when there is a new game, i think you should make a big deal out of it…Maybe like New Arrival flyer over it…Maybe raise it up like podium, then people circle around it…That might give a fresh exciting feel to it…

Monthly Tournaments? Will probably get people to practice more…Have good constant arcade scene…Maybe have like a Champion Board, showing who’s the current best player…People like to feel special/ be noticed…

Instead of quarters dispense tokens…$1 for 5…Since most games are 50cents, they would always have that extra token, so naturally they would have to use another dollar to use that extra token…

When i was in the PI, there were Karaokee machines there & those were the ones that were full/brought people in…Im really not sure how americans will react but i think it might draw random people who normally dont go to the arcade…


#11

I don’t ever want to see a “good” arcade pop up, because we all know it will fail horribly in the end.


#12

This is one of the reasons why Silver Coin’s owners (at the time) bowed out and closed the SouthCenter location. They thought it would be more economical to close the one that BRINGS IN THE MOST BUSINESS and keep the Silverdale and Burlington locations open. But ideally, like most of the mall arcades in America, they switched to redemption/ticket games because those brought in everyone and thus turned arcades into the dying mall daycares they are today. Oh yeah, they spent all their money (that SHOULD have gone towards repairing their arcade machines) on redemption prizes that you could get from the Dollar Store. :looney:

With the exception of a handful (denjin, AI, and Arcade UFO), almost every arcade owner is looking for money above catering to the players. Dudes get greedy.

If an arcade opens up here in the Seattle Metro area, it will HAVE to be for the players, and by the players. Yeah it’ll have the non-fighting games, but it’s got to have nothing BUT arcade machines. Screw redemption games. Seriously.

EDIT: Lanwerx had the right idea with their console room. Rent out a room with a projector in it, have some consoles in it and peeps bring their own games. Their arcade in Bellevue was co-ran by the dude who owned Kicks, if I remember correctly. And both Damien and owner dude (name escapes me at the moment) both knew how an arcade should be run. Catering to the guys who play the game and actually listened to the requests from the players instead of just doing “what would look nice”.


#13

there was a brief moment in time when siu-wai from kick’s hobby rented from the bellevue lanwerx and had a kickass arcade going for a short while. arcade + japanese toys = win


#14

I think the only things arcade have left to offer if they are going to survive is community, and that is what they are going to have to push and promote if they are going to remain at all successful. They can’t get by just offering a place to play games anymore. Everyone has that now for free.

What gamers don?t have is a place to meet other gamers face to face; a home away from home for playing games and meeting with friends. Arcades have always supplied this and it?s the one thing they still have above console. But up till now, community has been a byproduct of people coming to play games. It hasn’t been focused on as something that should be replenished and upgraded, the same way you would do upkeep on a cabinet or get the latest releases. I think it needs to be taken to a new level in order to be a great business model. Arcades are going to have to make community building and support the most important thing they offer, above games and cabinets.

This could mean a lot of things. Organizing and holding consistent, well advertised weekly tournaments. Maybe sponsoring a team and sending them to major comps (I know this might be expensive for start-ups), or even organizing a league for your city/region that is run through your establishment. I am not saying any of those things are easy to do, but I think they are the one thing that arcades can still supply that no other business can, and it?s something I have not seen any establishment do. Places like lan-centers seem to be attempting to be a place for gamers, but they are usually too expensive, and don?t offer anything beyond a comfortable place to play with nice chairs. I can?t go to a lan-center (at least in the Seattle area) and know for sure that I will meet the kind of people I want to meet, and compete in the games I want to compete in.

As far as cost models and how much to charge goes, that is something that would have to get worked out. I personally believe that a quality Bubble Tea shop with a 25cent Marvel cabinet would ruin me.

To sum up, it basically comes down to this. Arcades used be profitable because they supplied games to gamers; which couldn’t be played anywhere else. Now, they need to supply community and purpose to gamers, because that is something they aren’t getting anywhere else.

Just my 2cents on where I think the industry should focus.

Edit: This is just a general take on the arcade business as a whole. Ground Kontrol and Bill’s participation on the forum are good examples (IMO) of community support in a business model.


#15

Honestly, there hasn’t been enough drive in this scene since Lanwerx arcade in Bellevue. A lot of us are just the end-user and really couldn’t fork out the cash/upkeep money for opening something like this.

If there was someone among us with the extra startup/upkeep money and the will to actually contribute to an otherwise dying and low-reward/high-risk mission like opening an arcade.

With that being said, I’m sure that a lot of us would love to donate our spare time just to work there to keep the place going. Hell, if I had a free weekend and that place was open, I’d work there for free.


#16

It didn’t help that consoles surpassed arcades in terms of graphics and game accessibility. Appearances kill. Not only that, but greedy arcade owners played a huge part in it. Why should I ever have to pay 50 cents to play MvC2, CvS2, or 3S on subpar controls? Honestly. Those games are as old as dookie. That was where Lanwerx excelled, 25 cents for everything except T5 as it was hella new and was expensive to buy. Along with the fact that the equipment there was on point. Not only that, but late hours was great as well.

There was a lan type place I remember reading about in the LA area where they had numerous XBox 360s and tvs dedicated to players that wanted to meet up and play console fighters. That kinda lan/console/arcade hybrid is what would be necessary for an arcade to survive these days imo. That way you could lure a good number of potential players with the newer games, while at the sametime, having the equipment necessary to expose them to the older games that are worth playing. I do think though, that online play and the anonymity it offers has spoiled and pussified a lot of potential players. You can’t pull an ethernet cable in a public setting, or at an arcade cabinet. They don’t make players like they used to.


#17

I think what really kills arcades is the lack of passersby. It’s frequently a damned-if-you-do/don’t situation, because if you want to open up where there’s foot traffic, that probably means high rent, and if you don’t, that means few customers.

Arcades are perfect examples of a business that’s not a destination for most people, but a lot of people would consider stopping by if they were already there, and had some time to kill. I think the key to having a large, successful arcade would be to somehow really collect on that - ticket games, crane games, whatever - but try to have something there for kids, for girls*, for everybody. That might mean making it an arcade + bubble tea spot, or something, the way that GameWorks is an arcade + bar.

  • By “for girls”, I don’t mean shitty games with a lot of pink. I mean something that girls (not necessarily ONLY girls) will enjoy. Photo booths, stuff like that.

#18

Every good arcade in LA is open late as hell, have people mostly all the time, controls that work (And in the case of catering to the community: They dont throw Jap controls on Marvel, or Happ sticks on 3rd strike)… Most importantly though: They are CHEAP. Dudes who live close go multiple nights a week because they only spend a few dollars. This makes people from a bit further away come out regularly too and on the weekends everyone comes out. I don’t even know if it could work up here just due to the difference in population density, it would have to be blocks away from a college or in a great spot downtown and even then during the winter or something I imagine it would be a big decrease in traffic when no one wants to go anywhere cuz its freezing out.

Personally I think Gameworks has a good thing going right now, they are open kinda late and seem to have people a majority of the time(I’ve been there until close prob 10 times and rarely is there more than 5 minutes before someone plays me) but it IS way too expensive and I suspect all the dudes who I see constantly dropping 20 bucks a night, not getting a single win will just go the fuck away after console drops. And rofl @ that sorry 3rd strike cab. You would think an arcade that big could swap monitors with something garbage and throw some decent buttons on there… and then not charge 75 cents or w/e for it ahhaha


#19

The more I have been thinking about Gameworks policy on cabinet upkeep, it is just ridiculous. You would never go to a movie theater where the screen or sound slightly was slightly busted, and have the owner tell you “We can’t fix it until its COMPLETELY unplayable. Till then you’ll just have to put up with it.” The very idea that a business wouldn’t keep its cabinets in top condition for its customers when they are the reason they come there is pretty ludicrious.


#20

It’s funny because, Nate would love nothing more to fix the cabinets that we all love but because of corporate policy, he has to fix some random crap game no one ever plays first. GG Gameworks.