Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

How the Arcade Biz Really Works

Posted by Rampant Coyote on April 7, 2015

Stuff I didn’t know….

I was a child of the arcades. That’s where my minimal income from chores went each week. I think it was interesting that while I had a couple of peers that fantasized about running an arcade one day, my own fantasies were about making the games. I lived out this fantasy by learning to program games on home computers (mainly my Commodore 64).  I ended up making video games for a living – which in spite of it’s challenges and frustrations is still admittedly a cool gig – but the time of the arcades had largely passed by that time. And where they used to be found in every mall and in some cities almost on every other block, they are very rare animals today.

Eric Yockey shines some light on the realities of the arcade business (and why video game arcades have largely vanished in the modern era) in this article at Gamasutra:

What Really Happened to Arcades

An excerpt – and one of the more obvious issues with making arcade games:

“Day-0 patches may be common in the rest of the games industry, but arcades do not get that luxury, and therefore time spent in QA is much longer, and simplicity in game design to avoid logic errors is strongly encouraged. The arcade industry has evolved somewhat from the days of mailing out repair boards to all your locations whenever Shang Tsung starts to march across the ceiling (I may be dating myself with that reference), and internet access is largely ubiquitous among arcades, but developers cannot assume that their machines can receive updates and that operators will be willing to bother themselves with your problems if online updates fail. And this is especially true when most operators have an attractive alternative.”

Interesting stuff! Okay, for me, we’re talking a big part of my childhood, so it’s downright fascinating. But I hope you find it interesting as well.


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  • Pinball Sales Australia | Pinball Machines Melbourne said,

    Nice article on how arcade games. The decline of arcade games can really be stemmed to the lack of updates as well as the reliance of the machines on hardware that are costly to update. Thanks for sharing, learned a lot about the “life story” of arcade games.