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Namco Blames Wii for Arcade Closures 198

milsoRgen noted a story about Namco Bandai is shuttering between 50 and 60 arcades in Japan and blaming the success of the Wii for the closures. "A lot of the types of games that people played at an arcade can now be done at home," said company spokesman Yuji Machida. To be fair they also blame the high cost of gasoline as well.
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Namco Blames Wii for Arcade Closures

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  • by Zouden ( 232738 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @12:40PM (#22360658)
    They all closed here years ago. I think Playstation was blamed at the time, though many probably closed earlier and blamed the Genesis.
  • by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @12:52PM (#22360798) Homepage
    Plenty of them around in Tokyo last time I was there (along with the ubiquitous pachinko parlors). I guess if you live in a shoebox sized apartment, you are going to relish all the city entertainment you can get though.
  • Arcades can evolve (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @01:38PM (#22361202)
    Arcades can evolve too. The market is there for people who want to rent out movie-theatre sized screens to play multiplayer games. How about an arcade that contains actual consoles where you just bring your memory cards or wiimotes (w/character data on) and just pay a cover charge and for drinks, or for a private room with friends (like billiards) all so you can play with a crowd on a giant screen? I'm sure parents would appreciate the break, and kids can be as loud as they want or game with their friends all night.
    There is a giant rift between arcade games and their console counterparts because we cannot exchange character data between them or game on a console vs an arcade cabinet. If we allow this, then the popularity of the living room will also be interchangable with that of the public gaming outlets, and both can coexist and benefit from each other. Perhaps if you visit the arcades you can get the newest demos first, or the arcades can download them for you and burn them on disc and charge a token fee. Wii demos for full games could be distributed exclusively at arcades. There are many opportunities to increase the popularity of both at the same time.
  • by The Orange Mage ( 1057436 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @01:52PM (#22361326) Homepage
    Arcades in America closed because almost all but the largest were terribly maintained and many games took more quarters than they were worth. Bad management and little retarded kids breaking in the buttons till they don't work anymore is what killed the Arcade in the U.S..
  • by rpillala ( 583965 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @02:56PM (#22361792)

    There used to be one of those in Laurel, MD called Galaxy Computing and they had to close their doors due to lack of customers. They had:

    • Big-screen TVs (two or three?) with consoles parked in front
    • 20 gaming PCs on a LAN
    • Deals with game studios to provide games at a much lower rate, and in some cases prelaunch
    • Advertising campaigns at local schools and whatnot
    • Group rates for things like birthday parties
    • lots of launch events - I saw the Baldur's Gate II launch event it was kind of sad
    • participation in national tournaments (I watched some guys play Red Alert II in a tournament - crazy!)
    and still couldn't make a go of it. This was some years ago so the consoles were last-gen and the TVs were tubes. I'm not saying it can't work, I'm just saying that it's been tried and is being tried with hit-or-miss success. Go to [] for more info.
  • by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @03:14PM (#22361956) Homepage
    Dave & Busters does the game and alcohol/food thing already, but they really pander to a more general audience than would play Soul Calibar 3 twice. For example, in Kansas City, they built one near the new NASCAR track, and the D&B has ridiculous amounts of redneck games. Turkey shooters, NASCAR racers etc. The problem appears to be that the people who try to cater to redneck fans have terrible ability or attention to quality, making the game's only attraction an initial familiarity.

    As for turning arcades into game sales arenas, it's a bit difficult; only Nintendo has the business experience making both consoles and arcade cabinets, and they appear to have decided the arcade is dead to them. They'll license their characters, but none of their consoles are designed with integration in mind. For example, Sega pulled F-Zero and made an arcade counterpart to GX, with new levels, motion seats and game data imports (I've only seen one ever in person, at a Disney hotel of all places). The consoles are alive and well, while the arcades are languishing indeed. I imagine none of the three need the targeted advertising your proposal would allow. And the net is a better data distribution system than any physical place can be. But I can't imagine an arcade splurging for an internet connection to pull data off of XBox Live etc.
  • Re:Um... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by milsoRgen ( 1016505 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @03:50PM (#22362248) Homepage
    And considering the high density population their urban centers are known for, one would think a nearby arcade wouldn't be to far away. I'm thinking the Wii might be playing a part in this, but if it is it's merely a blip in the grand scheme of things. As nothing really compares to a well designed arcade machine, no matter how much fun flailing your arms about is in the privacy in your own home.

    I just wonder if it's become cost prohibitive to truly innovate (or differentiate yourself) in an arcade machine. Graphics are pretty good these days, I can't see any company willing to invest the money to make an arcade machine truly stand out compared to a GeForce 8xxx or PS3/Xbox. And if you can't win on the graphics front, you have to start doing novelty things like incorporating movement or force feedback, again increasing costs.

    It's hard to say, as Japan is such a different beast than the U.S.

    But I can say personally I quit going to the arcade when games were no longer 25 or even, 50 cents. I really don't care about paying for the newest hardware, as the newest hardware/graphics doesn't equal the greatest game play. I still play A.P.B. (that top down 2d cop game, where you pull people over and go through the donut shops), and that 2d sidescrollin' X-Men beat-em-up, when I can find them.... Simply because they are the most fun... IMHO
  • Its just price (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 09, 2008 @03:55PM (#22362308)
    as a student, I dont have 200 dollers I can spend on games, I have a fixed budget, Ill spend that budget on whats going to give me the most fun.

    Back when games were 25c each in the US (or 5 cents at wounderland) 20 bucks would pay for a huge amount of play time, im talking all day long if I was good at some game.

    Now with games showing up on ultra hard mode out of the box, and over 75cents to play each. you have priced me out of the market.

    I think some of the arcade owners need to take a few econ classes, and pay for a support staff to keep the games in perfect working order. or at least train the money collecter guy to replace buttons that go bad.
  • Re:O RLY (Score:5, Interesting)

    by banzairun ( 1236378 ) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @06:39PM (#22363786)
    Namco Arcades in America were always a joke.. In fact they almost single-handedly killed off most of the mall arcades by buying out many of the existing chains (Aladdin's Castle, Pocket Change, Time-Out, Monte Carlo, etc..). This wouldn't have been such a problem, but Namco does not like to purchase new equipment for their stores as a cost-saving measure, where most of the chains they bought out did. This turned their arcades from a destination to just the place you might go to kill a little bit of time before heading to the theater. Maybe this was their business model, but why go to an arcade when you know you're not going to see anything new? Only the few hardcore DDR and Tekken 5 players ever made the trek away from their Xbox360's to reallifeland after that.

    Look at their stores now and nearly half of the games in them are 10-year old gun games and a few driving games.. They also got in trouble by upgrading their DDR machines with PS2's instead of dedicated arcade hardware, as a cost saving measure.

    Namco killed their own business (and the Texas-based Tilt chain did as well by making some poor purchasing decisions).. around my area, local companies are starting up new mall arcades that seem to be doing fairly well.

    The real money the past couple years was in machines like Derby Owners Club, which cost $128,000 to buy but will pay for itself within 9 mos in a high-traffic location.. That game single-handedly kept Dave & Busters in business.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 09, 2008 @09:48PM (#22365474)
    According to Play Meter magazine (the magazine for the arcade/amusement industry), the arcade industry took an even bigger dive in 2007 (from its long decline starting in 1984).

    Family Entertainment Centers (FEC) locations were down 60% year-over-year. OUCH!

    However the Dave and Busters chain, which is a kind of a "Chuck E. Cheese" for adults with a full bar, seems to be doing quite well. Every time I go it's absolutely packed with 25-40 year olds. On the occasion when I stop by the all-ages arcades in the area however they're completely dead.

    I have the feeling arcades are a generational thing. The "kids today" just aren't interested, just like we didn't flock to drive-ins and putt putts (at least not in great enough numbers to keep them viable.) The arcades that do succeed, at least in the USA, seem to do so by appealing to Gen-X nostalgia.

    So mourn the passing of the neighborhood/mall arcade if you wish, but ask yourself if you really think it's a business model that needs to continue, or if you're really just wistful about your own rapidly fading youth.
  • Re:Um... what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Riktov ( 632 ) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @12:23AM (#22366546) Journal
    If you get outside of the urban core, suburban Japan (for example, large parts of Chiba and Saitama prefecture) has become, in the past decade or so, quite like suburban America, where you actually do need a car to get around, and amenities are being built with that assumption.

    Sure, there's always a train station in the vicinity of such communities, but those are for commuting in to the city, and not very useful for getting around in the area -- the end of the line is a big urban hub, but most of the stations along the way are the same sort of residential areas, and there's no space within walking distance of the station to support the entertainment and shopping needs of the burgeoning residential populations. So they just do the obvious thing -- rip up the rice paddies and forests and build large shopping malls.

    There are now Costcos, Ikeas, and supermalls in the suburban Tokyo area, complete with huge parking lots., multiplex theaters.. and Namco arcades. My girlfriend's family lives in one such area (in Chiba prefecture), and their typical weekend activity is to all get in the minivan and drive to the local Jusco mall for shopping, dining, and games.
  • Re:Um... what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Sunday February 10, 2008 @04:51PM (#22372756) Homepage
    I blame Namco for releasing the same regurgitated crap for 25 years.

    People certainly won't be going to the arcades for single-player games or palette-swapped sequels to Soul Edge. There's also the ridiculous prices being charged for games - I can tolerate (begrudgingly) paying a dollar for a big game like DDR or Drummania where you actually get 5-6 minutes of play. I can't stand paying that much for a crappy low-res racing game with anime physics and "gone in 60 seconds" difficulty.

    There's just no fun in the arcades anymore. It's all been done, and now it's tired. Long gone are the days where people would line up at lunch time to challenge the local Street Fighter champ, or shove two rolls of quarters into Terminator 2 to beat it with a friend. Fact is, most people would rather play those classics than the new garbage that's come out in the last ten years.

    What about that coin-eating gem, Dungeons and Dragons Tower of Doom ? That was a blast to play with 3 random strangers... where are those games today ? I don't want to go to an arcade just to get my ass whooped by the inevitable asian black-wannabe kids at some obscure coin-slut game.

    The Wii didn't kill Namco, it just made painfully obvious how badly Namco has sucked over the years. Namco died of natural causes.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"