Gaming Companies Try to Recreate the Old Arcade Social Atmosphere on the Internet
Despite what others may think, social gaming didn’t just suddenly spring forth in the wake of the social media boom. In fact, it’s been here since the ‘70s albeit in a form that would be recognizable to older gamers. We’re talking about arcades.
(The golden age of video game arcades – 1970s to mid-1990s.*)
During their heyday, arcades provided gamers with a true social gaming experience. After all, it can’t get much more social than when you’re actually playing against a person that’s sitting in front of you.
Unfortunately, the arcade scene in the US is basically dead nowadays, crushed by a bad reputation and the meteoric rise in popularity of home video game consoles. Ironically, one could say that tech killed the arcade star.
Social gaming grows online
These days, gaming companies are trying to recreate the old arcade atmosphere on the internet. So far, it seems to be working. According to research from Super Data, the social casino gaming landscape is fast becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry. Data suggests that by 2015, the industry will have reached worldwide revenues of over $2 billion. The US market alone is expected to account for over 40% of those revenues.
The recent legalization of online gaming in New Jersey has added another potentially lucrative revenue stream for online casinos. Internet-based companies are partnering with land-based casinos for a slice of that juicy New Jersey pie. UK-based trading exchange giant Betfair is even expanding its Betfair Arcade offerings by launching a new online casino targeted solely towards gamers in New Jersey.
The scene lives on overseas
Despite the decline of the arcade scene in the US, the cabinets and games themselves remain popular. Hobbyists and collectors can find complete cabinets or tutorials on how to make one online.
Emulators have also kept the games alive. Full-on arcade game exhibits and conventions like California Extreme also help keep the arcade spirit alive in the hearts and minds of nostalgic gamers.
Outside of the US, arcades remain somewhat popular in a few countries. In the Philippines, for example, almost every mall has its own gaming arcade complete with everything from claw machines to fighting games. Lazy Gamer notes that the same holds true in Australia.
Japan: The arcade mecca
Japan, however, is the true king of the arcades. Although both the North American and Japanese arcade scenes went through a similar “dark” phase where arcades were often equated with delinquent hangouts, gamer and indie filmmaker Brad Crawford notes that Japan didn’t just let its scene give up the ghost and peter out.
(Watch the trailer for Brad Crawford’s documentary about why Japan’s arcades didn’t die.)
Thanks to the efforts of game developers, owners, and the players themselves, today’s Japanese arcades are now gleaming multi-storey buildings that serve as temples to the gods of gaming. It’s a true testament to the worth of what basically amounts to the true form of social gaming.
*(Vintage Arcade Photos – Source)
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