Step back in time with me for a moment if you will. To a generation not that long ago. The 80’s. A time of outrageous haircuts, wild music, crazy fashion choices. But most importantly to us it was the golden era of the arcade!
Arcade games are often considered the progenitors of modern gaming. Long before the world of home consoles or PC gaming the only real way for anyone to game was to head down to their local arcade.
Picture it. Rows upon rows of colorful machines featuring some of the most popular games of the time. Super Mario Bros. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Duck Hunt. Dance Dance Revolution. And, of course, the king of the arcade genre, Pac-Man. Most gamers these days will never have had the chance to go into a classic arcade. But their parents likely will have.
Arcades still exist to this day. But are arcades and the games held within them losing their popularity?
The Convenience of Home Gaming
Many people would undoubtedly agree that arcade games have become a thing of the past. And the main reason for this is the shift towards home gaming systems. It all started with consoles. Suddenly a lot of the most popular arcade games, such as Mario or Street Fighter, could be played on the NES from the comfort of your sofa.
And as home gaming grew in popularity companies put more time and money into creating better consoles. Thus began the console wars which still rage to this day. And while this may have been great for gamers, it was little more than a death sentence for arcades as we knew them.
And it wasn’t just the fact that it was far more convenient for people to game at home either. The other issue was that games themselves were outpacing the arcade machine technology.
The Newer Generation of Games
Arcade games were all fairly simple in both their graphics and gameplay. Back then they were, of course, cutting edge. But these days you could run most classic arcade games on a modern calculator. But a lot of our modern games would simply be unable to run on an arcade machine system.
Games like Fifa or Call of Duty require a lot more processing power to function properly. So it makes sense that gaming had to shift away from the arcade setting and into the home. But that doesn’t mean companies aren’t still taking inspiration from the era of arcade games. You can still find cheats for Fifa 23 that harken back to the classic cheats you could use on the Football game Arcade machines.
Because of the increasing complexity offered by modern games the older arcade games seem archaic by comparison. The modern gamer has become spoiled to a degree. They want great 3D graphics and branching quest lines. They want hundreds of customisation options and an integrated multiplayer system. All things that the arcade games of the past simply couldn’t offer.
A Cashless World
But if we ignore everything to do with the gaming side of things there is one other major issue that has pushed arcades further into obscurity. And that is the rise of our new cashless society. Be honest, how often do you have any cash on you these days? With contactless cards and Applepay all becoming so popular no one ever needs cash anymore. And if people do have cash they often have notes.
Arcade machines are a relic of an era where everyone had plenty of coins. Lots of nickels and dimes all waiting to be spent down at the arcade. It wasn’t uncommon for people to save all the spare change they got from their regular shopping over a few weeks then go spend it all down the arcade. Kids would get their pocket money in the form of coins and cycle down to the arcade for a chance at playing their favorite game.
These days if you pass an arcade you might be tempted to go in and play a few games, but don’t because you have no cash on you. Some arcades are getting around this by allowing people to buy tokens with their card. But as the world moves into a new cost of living crisis it seems people won’t have any extra money to be spending down at the arcade.