The Chinese Arcade Market: Still Going, Still Going Strong

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

The Chinese Arcade Market: Still Going, Still Going Strong

Back on Monday, you'll remember I talked about how the Kat Walk line of VR machines were heading to Chinese arcades. That was a concept that got me thinking for the next little while, and I started having a look around. It turns out that there's a fairly vibrant market for arcade technology in China, owing to what looks like a couple different factors.

With a little looking around, I found that the Chinese arcade movement really got going about the time that the United States' was in decline, about the late nineties into the early 2000s. While there likely were arcades in the region beforehand, it seems like the real market kicked up about that time. Indeed, reports from 2014 suggested that the recently-legalized Xbox console may have done some damage to the arcade community. That was a valid concern; after all, that's why hurt the American arcade market more than anything else. But given that there were subsequent reports coming from 2015, featuring a Spanish national who lived in China as a translator and tester for a mobile games company, suggested that the industry was still alive and well.

Indeed, video footage from the China Guangzho International Game and Amusement Exhibition (CIAE) show in March of this year showed off plenty of new titles, and more than a few old titles recast in modern casings. A copy of Pac-Man--yes, Pac-Man!--was on hand, as were some impressive-looking fighting game cabinets. There was even an impressive-looking gun-based cabinet that looked a lot like Gunblade New York with more colors. There are plenty of games that use the rifle-based controller, of course, but given that these were stand-mounted and rather cumbersome, all I could think was my old favorite Gunblade. Based on the signage--I don't speak or read Chinese--it looked like the game was called "The King of Air," but I could have been wrong.

There were unusual titles afoot as well; a top-down bullet-hell shooter contained in an arcade cabinet is bizarre to say the least, but there it was on display at the CIAE show. Throw in a pool table that didn't have any actual balls involved--it was a projection tabletop, almost like a Microsoft Surface with cue stick controllers--and plenty more from there.

All told, I was actually pretty impressed with the Chinese arcade market, and can't help but think it's a shame to not see this kind of technology in American operations. The biggest problem is investment; these machines can cost as much as a new car in some cases, and even charging a dollar per play can be back-breaking, especially when gamers can enjoy nigh-unlimited play at home anyway with current systems. Still, we as gamers are missing out when we don't have that social element we once had, and hopefully, we can bring it back before too much long.

Featured Events