Report: Japanese arcades in slump

Growing popularity of consoles cited as a factor in slowdown for nearly $7 billion arcade market.

by

There seem to be arcades on every street corner in Japan, and the industry is worth some $6.9 billion a year--but the sector seems to be in something of a slump. Recently, Sega Sammy and Namco Bandai, two of the biggest arcade owners, announced that they will be closing a significant number of their arcades. Sega Sammy will be shutting 110, around a quarter of its total, whereas Namco Bandai is giving the boot to between 50 and 60, approximately 20 percent.

According to analysts interviewed by Reuters, one of the main reasons behind the closures is the advances in home and mobile gaming, including the arcade-style experiences offered by Nintendo with games such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit. A Namco Bandai spokesperson earlier in the year pointed the finger at the Wii, along with other factors including rising petrol prices. Widescreen HDTVs are also partly to blame, say analysts, allowing gamers to use gaming platforms such as the PlayStation 3 to essentially re-create "the arcade experience" at home.

Namco president Jun Higashi commented at a recent conference, "We need to innovate, especially in the realm of games where people move their bodies. We also need to develop games that can't be played at home."

Square Enix president Yoichi Wada told Reuters that what the industry needs is a breath of fresh air, and he suggests measures such as inviting nonarcade businesses to open franchised stores to bring in new ideas, and developing games for couples and the elderly. He concluded, "The industry is at a crossroads. We are going to have to change anyway, so we might as well take the lead."

Discussion

96 comments
KoruKinshi
KoruKinshi

Personally I have every intention of opening a grand arcade the likes of what no one has ever seen in California. Arcade gaming brings people together in a fun environment that's clean. Not like the endless amounts of trash-talking and lack of intelligence that's rampant on Xbox Live. This news is a heart breaker to me, but it's not over. It's never over. People can't get exact gameplay, especially in fighting games, when playing online. You can't play F-Zero in a moving, tilting piece of equipment at home. You can't play DDR with full metal pads, unless you go through the trouble of spending an offensive amount of money, or making your own. And even so, where's the crowd that's going to cheer you on? Arcades still provide that personal contact that will never be imitated in someone's home...unless, of course, you feel like inviting strangers to your home.

joeblofromidaho
joeblofromidaho

True. you could have told me that the arcade died 10 years ago in Japan and I would have believed it. I would just assume it was already dead like here. But I guess those crazy basterds lover their games.

cire
cire

There's so much more in arcades than the traditional games. There's the UFO Catchers, medal games (like gambling), Interactive sports and role playing card games, the VR pods for Gundam, mahjong games, purikura, quiz games, and the strange eclectic crowd of customers from high school kids to business people. It's definitely a place to visit when you come to Japan. Just be prepared for the bad ventilation and smokers. Even if they close the reported number of arcades. There's still a lot of them.

jknight5422
jknight5422

"Arcade is dead years ago in US. Japan just way to slow to catch up, its not like they didn`t see it coming" --felshs Exactly. It made no sense to me why the Japanese still have arcades either. Their own businesses with the Playstation, Sega, & Nintendo consoles killed the US arcade industry since around 1995. You would think that the consoles would've killed off the Japanese arcades as well, but I guess the Japanese had extra money to burn. So long Japanese arcade games. We hardly knew ye.

dulun19
dulun19

if it only has 2 D game.. then.. yes.. but if they have new games.. then maybe not... i like arcade games! :) you can smash it ! without worry during fighting games!!!

living_wmd_888
living_wmd_888

I sure wish they still had good arcades in the US too. I would like to see arcades make a comeback in the US. Online is fun, but it just isn't really as good as the arcade experience. There isn't a decent arcade within 100 miles of where I live, but occasionally you can find a small diner with some good arcade games that the owner went to the trouble of refurbishing.

felshs
felshs

Arcade is dead years ago in US. Japan just way to slow to catch up, its not like they didn`t see it coming

elducko
elducko

For me arcades have been way better than any console has because You get more interactivity and you can actually the person your playing. Which makes it more competitive and fun.

super_tails
super_tails

We still have arcades in almost every movie theatre here in Australia (at least in Victoria) The world of console gaming as expanded into something new, now it's time for the arcade world to do the same. I just hope arcades don't shut down all together in Japan. I'm heading to Tokyo at the end of the year :(

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

Arcades were something special because they had power, graphics and sound that we could only dream of having in the home. Now consoles are on par or even better so it makes sense that people dont use them anymore.

MSG-Deathscythe
MSG-Deathscythe

i spent hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars when soul calibur 2 was out in the arcades here at a local D&B. it was fun while having some beer and wings with friends. but when the dreamcast version came out and was so close to the arcade version, we simply just stopped going to the arcades coz it's cheaper and it's safer coz you can sleep over if you had too much to drink.

MichaeltheCM
MichaeltheCM

I think arcades everywhere in the world will begin to see a decline in sales as console technology progresses and people purchase more and more of them

destrozz
destrozz

Im suprised arcades have survived this long in japan, they died here in the 90s.

Nobarai
Nobarai

Arcades are fun, but unless you live in Japan, you won't really see nice ones. I think it's over, and they need to move on.

speedjunkie4
speedjunkie4

Arcades have died ever since devolopers starting putting there games on arcade packs and on places like XBL and the PSN, even on the Wii.

jaredcrazy3232
jaredcrazy3232

there isn't a true arcade in Calgary anymore, and that sucks. plus all the good arcade games are in japan. the best I can do is go to a cyber cafe for PC gamers, at least there I get a similar experience with new games. on another thought I wonder how this effects CounterStrike Neo?

kyosukeugc
kyosukeugc

it would suck for a lot of them to close down. Japanese arcades are the coolest thing ever. NOTHING comapred the crap they've always had in the US.

DragonMaskD
DragonMaskD

Please don't let arcades die out in japan! I want to go to one there someday! Hoping Street Fighter 4 will turn the tables around.

DS_Lightning21
DS_Lightning21

If you can't beat Nintendo's arcade-at-home experiences, join them. Now let's see Virtua Fighter and Tekken for Wii!

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

Isn't it ironic? That in a country where basically all this technology was created and perfected that it took this long for them to finally take a hit to the arcade business. Whereas in America where the HD penetration is small that arcades died out a long time ago. Maybe it's just me, but I find it highly ironic. You'd think in a country where they make all the stuff we buy in America and around the world their arcades would have died out a long time ago.

thekey
thekey

@lamprey263 True. thats the only places Around where I'm from that you can go to play arcade games. And there pretty current games. But games on My HDTV look light years better then some of the arcades monitors. It's funny because it was arcades that go us so hooked on these games /and consoles initially in the first place.

lamprey263
lamprey263

arcades these days don't cater to adults the arcades that stuck around the longest around here and are still around are the ones that allow drinking and/or smoking inside

PixyMisao
PixyMisao

We had this problem ages ago, and trying to find an arcade these days in the US has become near impossible. The last time I went to an arcade, I noticed that the screen resolution on the machines were terrible compared to the TV I have at home... and my TV doesn't even support progressive scan. I'm sure the technology is better in Japan, but leaving the house to go and play video games elsewhere is an outdated idea imo. And Sega is partially to blame here because they've almost always made arcade games, but even console exclusive games like Phantasy Star Online felt like an arcade experience... especially since it was the first online RPG for consoles. Why leave the house to game with others, when you can stay at home and game with others?

thekey
thekey

Why are they still so indulged on the played out arcade? We have outstanding consoles with online play. I remember sega saying Virtua Fighter 5 couldn't be done online" Now I know why they said it. The Arcade is the thing of the PAST! LET IT GO!!!

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

Online = one big arcade. All the small potatoe shops can close now.

UltimateXShadow
UltimateXShadow

japan, arcade, sega, sammy, namco, bandai, close, dying, news, article, 2008

UltimateXShadow
UltimateXShadow

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

Alas, it is sad that arcades are reaching their end, but I'm not really all that disapointed because since consoles are being bought like crazy. I may sound like a jerk writing this, but I got to admit it's not worth being all that sad because arcades are shutting down due to console popularity.

BlackDiamond81
BlackDiamond81

This sucks but maybe this will propel Tekken 6 to come to PS3 this year!!! It seems like it's been announced and is taking forever. I hope they do have more interactive and games that inspire you to go to the arcade or in my case Dave and Buster's. I know Time Crisis is one of those games that is way better at the arcade.

specialed
specialed

oneshot112, that's ludicrous to think that b/c someone doesn't frequent an arcade that they're not a GAMER. Seriously, do you live in a cave or do you like to stereotype?

travt-down
travt-down

@OneShot112 Arcades in the States are nearly dead. Initial D and midnight Tune are not nearly as awesome as OutRun, Power Drift, or STUN Runner were back in the day.

blazethe1
blazethe1

the only decent arcade in my area closed and relocated father away. it sucks now. my town is boring. i hav an idea though, as far as "something you can't do at home" goes. what if you played against a bunch of other people at the arcade. something epic where everyone stood in a circle and competed face to face. thats something you cant do online.

OneShot112
OneShot112

I'm surprised by this, and yes arcades are still alive. How can you call yourselves gamers if you haven't been to an arcade in years? A lot of awesome games have been out, such as Initial D and Midnight Tune.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Just like North America, In Japan Arcades are on the way out.

huntervaneg
huntervaneg

Innovation on arcades is the key to survive, maybe direct interaction with the home consoles could help (exclusive material to unlock; use your fighter/car on arcades. Do you remenber the interaction between F-Zero GX and F-Zero AX; well, something like that ! ) .

travt-down
travt-down

Consoles killed the arcades here a decade+ ago. It sucks, but its just the way it is. Above anything else, I believe it was the handheld market that did the most damage in Japan. That country has not seen anything as popular as the DS is.

werc96
werc96

Im happy i grew up in a time where ninja turtles, Street fighter, Mortal Kombat, The simpsons, and Metal Slug ruled the arcades. Where people would wait an hour just to play a match in mortal kombat 2. Where every gamer would unite in our favortie hobby. Seriously...i miss it!

SEEDman_X
SEEDman_X

Sad. The consoles killed the arcades. Playing in the arcades with friends was definitely a great part of my childhood memory.

Nitro720
Nitro720

Thats good I guess. I have not played a good arcade game in a minute.

zeke2040
zeke2040

wow they still have arcades... i havn't seen an arcade since 1989... why don't they move all the format for arcade system and transfer them to gaming console, there sell's would double i hope... i'm sorry to hear that there having those issues... i do wish it pick's back up , cause i know family's needs the money to support them all..

diablobasher
diablobasher

MichelobGolden: Just because Arcades died out in the US years ago doesn't mean the rest of the world followed suit. Not everybody gets in line behind America.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

Hmmm...it seems to me the main Arcade maker that's suffering from decline is not SegaSammy but rather NamcoBandai which is mainly due to the fact that NamcoBandai has invested very little into the arcade market in Japan and more on it's 3rd party software another factor comes from the fact that namco hasn't introduced any NEW arcade technology for several years now, to date Sega 's Lindbergh is the newest arcade board(www.system16.com) it was only introduced 2 and a half years ago. I think only one thing can breath life into the arcade market is a gamble I believe the industry must take a in few years. The arcade market should be rivived oversees in to the U.S. market by having Japanese companies invest in opening import only arcades something that SEGA did way before thier time and what Planet Zero is doing. The arcade market needs to be expanded in the west again and run only buy Japanese companies. Don't try to spin this as the end of arcades. This isn't the end. SEGA has always tried to innovate new ways of playing arcade games but Namco really needs to step up building newer up-to-date arcade boards or else Sega will be one of the only few companies in Japan still building arcade boards and will invent new ways of getting people to play arcade games for cheap.

AWE_adam
AWE_adam

I used to play a lot of Dance Dance Revolution, and that game kept bringing me to the arcade on a daily basis. I didn't think that as I grew out of it, the community would grow out of it as well. I hope they arcade devopers come up with something insanely innovative that can bring gamers back to the arcade. There is just nothing like the experience of battling against strangers, and meeting new friends!

foxpro-gt
foxpro-gt

i member when arcades games took 1 quarter . yup just 1!! but soon we will see them being made with thos slots on soda mashings to put your bills in and no more coin slots :(. arcades in america have been in the slumps for along time now and its just hitting japan now. tho i dont think the arcade will ever truely disappear. there will always be that one arcade everyone knows about that you have to drive 25 miles to play at :P

NeonNinja
NeonNinja

I hope the arcades in Japan keep on going. The ones here in LA are pathetic, and few and far between. I remember going to any local mall back in the day as a kid and just playing at the arcade. These days, the best bet you can get is a small arcade at a bowling alley with no one in it.

SapSacPrime
SapSacPrime

Arcades are so expensive here in the UK it is a joke, and added to that I have to travel 20 odd miles to reach a decent sized one and play games that are 10+ years old :o. I would love to visit the arcades like I did in my youth all the time but it is sadly just not worth it these days :(.

Ra-Devil
Ra-Devil

Arcades in America aren't as... awesome, as arcades in Japan. It's not that fun or interesting to go to an arcade here, and the only ones worth going to are overpriced, like Dave and Busters. I liked going to the arcade once upon a time, when Pac-Man Jr. was sitting there right next to all the Street Fighter and Kind of Fighter games, and X-men VS Street Fighter had just come out... yeah, it was this place called Mr. Arcade, and it was $5 for unlimited plays for the entire day... pure awesome...