Hopefully by now you will have worked out that this blog is all about classic arcade gaming. I tend to write about games released during the ‘Golden Age’ – loosely speaking, this is the period from 1979 to 1984.
The arcade industry has changed since then beyond all recognition. So assuming you can find an arcade these days, what can you expect to play? Well, quite a lot as it happens.
Back in January this year, I paid a visit to an industry exhibition in London here in the UK. The EAG Show (formally known as ATEI) brings together the great and the good of the arcade industry all under one roof, where operators can view and demo the latest arcade releases. Expect to see video games, pinball and other redemption machines all under one roof.
I thought it would be interesting to see how arcades are shaping up these days, and try out what today’s consumers will be playing in the months to come.
One of the common themes throughout the show was driving games. Or at least games that were simulators around the theme of driving.
Sega’s presence at the show was impressive. Certainly the darlings of the arcade scene right now, they took up the bulk of the floorspace at the show, and had plenty on offer alongside their racing games:
Sega released their own video of the best of the show this year, which is worth a look. Many of the machines I’ve pictured above are featured:
Pinball was present at the show. Many newer tables from Stern and Jersey Jack were on the floor and playable courtesy of UK pinball retailer Pinball Heaven:
But it wasn’t just pinballs from the big two. This rare Alien pinball machine, created by the now-defunct Heighway Pinball company was on Home Leisure Direct’s stand. Playable too!
Raw Thrills had plenty on show too:
Today’s iteration of Atari has a habit of lending its name and IP to pretty much anyone with an idea and a cheque book. However, the mechanical Pong game is actually very nice. One was on hand at the show. I played this at the Free Play Florida event last year and really enjoyed it:
Other random stuff I saw included:
My buddy Alex from Nintendo Arcade was with me for the day and he pulled together a great video of what was on display – check out his video below:
So there you go. A quick roundup of what’s out there today, arcade-wise. I had a really good day out at the show. Plenty to see, and a demonstration of a buoyant arcade market!
What struck me was that everything was HUGE, big and loud. Which is the world we are in today I suppose. Compared to classic arcade games that had to sell gameplay over everything else to get to people playing, today’s machines seem to be more style over substance. Everything is brash, trying to shout louder than everything else – presumably to draw players in – and I suppose in today’s world, where consumers can get some pretty immersive experiences at home on modern-day consoles, the manufacturers have to go down that route.
You have to wonder what early 80’s arcade dwellers would have made of this stuff – it is light years away from the simple 8-bit games of the day.
There was a large element of “simulation” rather than play, and visitors were left with no doubt that the hot topic at the moment is VR. I’d expect the immediate future of arcades to be growing in that direction for the foreseeable future.
Hope you enjoyed this slight diversion from my normal subject matter!
See you next week, where normal ‘classic arcade’ service will be resumed!