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Chumming up the ‘Works

A recent Gamasutra feature discusses how GameWorks, the arcade chain that Sega acquired from Vulcan Ventures, will be developed by its new owner Sega. Arcades have been hit hard as each successive generation of home consoles has surpassed the graphics of most of the machines in these once hallowed halls. Among Sega’s remedies are adding sports bars and grills, which sounds similar to the Dave & Buster’s concept, and group sales.

At least the former seems to have potential, although it’s no guarantee. Dave & Buster’s purchased its rival Jillian’s mall assets out of bankruptcy in late 2004. Arcade games make more sense these days as a differentiator; they’re not the star attraction and won’t be until they are rethought. The whole notion of what an arcade is really needs to change to survive, with far more of a focus on social gaming that goes beyond anonymous rows of linked racing games. My ATM does more to customize the experience for me than any arcade game I’ve ever played.

One quote illustrates the challenge that the high-definition home theater poses:

[I]t’s now starting to be back to having an appeal, starting to see some of that impact back on the arcade-side where you can’t play in front of a 52-inch screen and have all of the very vibrant color and animation that’s part of it – you can’t just do that at home.

I’d say that the folks at Texas Instruments developing DLP chips would beg to differ.