Hey everyone, welcome to another cutting edge edition of Newsbytes, a curation of arcade content from around the web that is meant for the weekend. These are usually short, and today I have a full morning (sold one of my arcade machines to a home user, had to deliver it…down a flight of stairs with a turn), so things might be a little more brief than usual.
California Extreme Online Event
CAX 2020 takes place today, and while it is not going to be like any other CAX of years past, the organizers have been trying to make it as interactive as they can. That includes wiring machines up for online play (something I’ve thought about, but not setup at my own arcade while it was shut down). Thanks to MR.JBRPG for the links
Here’s a schedule of events.
Here’s another stream that appears to be connected? It’s showing the prototype game Freeze as I type this (along with TARG and Black Emperor): https://www.twitch.tv/namerankserialnumber
Bandai Namco Has Begun Testing Pac-Man Racer
I had been wondering how Bandai Namco’s VR side would come out of the pandemic (more like if it would survive), but this evolving story has become a little confusing. First, testing began today in Japan for Pac-Man Racer at their MAZARIA location in Tokyo. By what I’ve seen so far, this involves riding around an open space on a slow-moving go kart, collecting dots in the virtual world.
. We covered this one back when it opened, which included a number of unique VR games that you could only find at MAZARIA and Namco’s VR ZONE locations. I was always a little baffled by the existence of two uniquely branded VR amusement centers to come from Namco, but even though MAZARIA is the location test site for this new game, they also announced they are permanently closing MAZARIA on August 31st.
As it is, who knows how Pac-Man Racer will end up. My guess is that if VR ZONE locations still exist, they’ll port it over there, but regardless that side of it, I wonder about a non-VR version of Pac-Man Racer. Could that be Bandai Namco’s next video arcade game? It would have to have some various adaptations, but I’m sure that would turn heads. We’ll have to wait for an announcement – or IAAPA 2020 – to find out.
Oh and speaking of closures, but this one is going to have much more of a sad impact than Mazaria (which has only been around for a year), the Sega Akihabara Building No. 2 is going to permanently close their doors. In addition to the pressure of COVID still causing problems, another thing we don’t hear much about here is a tax that recently went into effect that has been causing already razor thin operating margins for Japanese arcades to decrease. Seems that someone in charge over there needs to re-read the story about the Golden Goose…
Fight of Gods Arcade Edition Now Testing In Japan
The Exa tests continue apace, with the latest announcement hitting on the 1v1 fighting game called Fight of Gods: Arcade Edition. This has added additional polish, fight balancing, three new characters and a new stage.
Let’s Talk Toaplan
I was a guest on the premiere podcast about game design, Grid Snaps, and this time we were talking Toaplan. I had to miss out on some of the discussion as I had to run an errand, so I rushed my thoughts on it. Hopefully they were coherent enough 😛 But fortunately both Rob and Patrick were able to provide plenty of LAI Games Releases Player Survey
Not long ago, LAI Games held an online “Player Survey” to gather feedback on how people felt about going back to arcades in a pandemic/post-pandemic world. They asked both players and parents/caregivers/guardians to fill it out – a vast majority (82%) were players. Most respondents (38%) hail from Southeast Asia (where the parent company of LAI Games, Helix Group, is located – they also operate Timezone FECs which are popular there), with the USA picking up a close second at 36%. You can request a copy of the survey here; You do have to send some info along to get it, but otherwise it is free.
Not to completely spoil them, but I did see the report and it is interesting to see some of the stats. The question on concerns of visiting an out-of-home entertainment location was a bit more mixed than I expected it to be; the others in regards to hygiene, PPE and social distancing seem to be in line with what I’ve seen over the past couple of months.
There was also the question of incentives surrounding what might bring you back to a venue, after showing stats of people intentionally avoiding arcades/amusement more often than they used to do. This was also fairly balanced, with “New games or attractions” eking out a win on things like game & food deals. That surprises me a little bit – I’ve added a few new pieces to my place since this all started, and it’s hard to say how much it has helped (just because so few people that follow my arcade on social media are locals). But I do need to do more in the way of deals.
Anyways, check it out for yourself and share your thoughts if you want to in the comments!
Golden Tee 2021 Preview
Here’s a quick look at the next Golden Tee arcade game, which I assume is still on track for a typical September release. It’s looking good for a Golden Tee game(not usually a high bar of graphics fidelity), although it would be something else if they upgraded it toFamily Guy Bowling Direct
Not the best audio on this one, but here’s a direct capture of Team Play Inc’s Family Guy Bowling that I picked up recently. I do hope to grab a new capture device some time by the end of the year, one that will allow me to directly capture the audio through the device instead of through a mic (very, very few machines pump audio out through HDMI):
Large Crowd Of Teens Cause Havoc At An FEC
Here’s a story that popped up this week that is the bane of an operators existence – rowdy teens. Most teens that come through my place are respectful to the equipment and other patrons, but all it takes is one to poison the well. It’s important to note that some initial headlines on this were incorrect as they claimed that the entire incident was a result of “machines not issuing refunds,” but it appears that was only one of many incidents that took place during the night. As the actual story says, someone started throwing fireworks into the crowd, the crowd panicked and started stampeding, the location was “unable to issue refunds” (probably due to the size of the group), then it snowballed from there. One girl was seen throwing things and screaming about machines eating her money, but the problem appears to be larger than that.
[In regards to that specific issue, I’ve had three situations occur here, but I always check out the machine prior to making a judgment: 1) The machine does have a jam/fault and ate the money 2) The user didn’t bother to read what’s on the screen, so they insert one coin, then get mad when the machine asks for more coins after they picked a more expensive mode (this happens every now and then on games like Big Buck) 3) They are lying and just want a free game/free tokens. It’s an almost even split between the three at my location, with #2 probably happening more often as it’s either Big Buck or pinball where the user doesn’t pay attention to what they are doing]
Contra: The Board Game
I guess the fact that it was an arcade game first will never win people over (granted, more people probably know the game from the NES version – I’ve played that, but not the arcade yet)