Sad survey: Majority of gamers don’t miss arcades


The March issue of Nintendo Power has a survey in which they asked readers if they missed arcades or not. Only 43% said yes. 30% said not really. 27% said they never frequented arcades.

How sad.

For any younglings in the room, arcades were popular in America from the late ’70s to mid ’90s. Although they still have a place in Japan, the closest thing you’ll find here is Chuck E. Cheeses, which isn’t exactly a “video” arcade.

Do you miss arcades? I know I do. And I’m pouring out a little soda for my favorite spots as a kid: LeMans, Aladdin’s Castle, the OSU student center in Stillwater, and Coney’s Island. Thanks for the good times, guys.


  1. I think that arcades should be given a little more love than they’re getting. Arcades are basically the ancestral grounds of gaming as we know it.

  2. we have an arcade here but its pretty pathetic, it used to be huge and have new games. now its just racing, ddr and crane games.

    dave and busters is still the best arcade i can find but the closest one is 2 hours away

  3. Why would I want to go to the arcade when I can have ten times the fun in my living room with a Nintendo console?

  4. Well…as much as I hate to say it, I agree wholly with the poll. In reality, there is no reason to go to a arcade, whenever most arcade games are available as roms, or have been released for a console. But I do enjoy going to one whenever I go. At least the Chuck E. Cheese we have around here has some newer arcade games, but I miss Galaga, Metal Slug (I’ve only seen the actual stand-up arcade machine for this once, and it was in a Pizza Hut), Pac Man, and my personal favorite…PINBALL! 🙂

  5. I love arcades and I go to Salem Willows a couple times a summer.

    Sadly, arcades lost their edge in two ways.

    First: Graphics and multiplayer. Home systems had arcade ports, but they were inferior. “Next Gen” systems came along with amazing graphics and added four controller ports, effectively killing this edge the arcades held for so long.

    Second: Knowing they were losing the graphics war, arcade games turned to motion based gameplay. That’s how you got your DDR, Taiko Drum Master, those soccer ball kicking simulators, Time Crisis, etc. Wii (and then Move) came a long and completely obliterated that unique aspect of the arcades.

    Also: people didn’t like paying a full dollar to play a game for 2 minutes.

    I get very sad knowing that arcades are closing and that my favorite, The Circus at the Pine Tree Mall in Marinette, Wisconsin, has been closed for several years.

  6. I miss arcades. My brothers and I would spend hours playing Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Police Trainer, the original Donkey Kong and Pac-Man games…. there were some great games at the arcade. While it’s not the same, it helps getting some of those titles re-released on XBLA. Still, there are some experiences that just can’t be simulated at home. Pinball, anyone?

    Geez, now you’ve got me jonesing for some old-school arcade goodness!

  7. My favorite arcade era was the year Dragon’s Lair arrived, sharing floor space with Star Wars. An overhead monitor was often installed above DL, so everyone waiting could watch the game in progress. That was also the year the hilariously awful Journey game came out. Younger gamers may not realize that big arcades used to be busy, bright, fun, and packed with the latest games. People would wait semi-patiently for the popular machines, politely laying down their quarters on the lower edge of the monitor as a place-holder–And the quarters never got stolen! Good times for all ages.

  8. Aladdin’s Castle!!! Man, I remember being a kid and the best birthday parties were the ones where we had a sleepover, and then the next morning the birthday kids parents would have rented out the arcade for 2 hours. The kids got unlimited tokens during that time, and no one else was allowed in the arcade, it was awesome. sadly my children won’t know that joy.

  9. To this day, I still enjoy the arcades for mainly 2 reasons: playing my favorite classic games and getting my nostalgia fix. Star Wars Trilogy arcade, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sunset Riders, Crazy Taxi, House of the Dead, Time Crisis, X-Men arcade, Moonwalker (yes, Michael Jackson), Pac-Man, Frogger, Dr. Mario, I can go on and on! There’s a nickel arcade just down the street where I go that provides a good enough time, and most of the games I listed are free to play! There’s also Camelot, a miniature golf place with a pretty decent arcade. I don’t really do Chuck E. Cheese, and I dislike Dave & Busters.

    I love my arcades, just being in that atmosphere always makes me feel like a kid again, and hearing various sound effects from the game cabinets is music to my ears.

    I’d also like to point out that I got excited and a little sad at the part in Tron: Legacy where Sam goes to Flynn’s arcade. =/

  10. When I was young, the epitome of wealth was having an arcade cabinet in your home. I wasn’t impressed with mansions or luxary cars, but if you had a Joust machine in your garage, you were a millonaire!!!

    The appeal of the arcade cannot be replicated anymore. The flashing screens and glowing marquees dancing off mirrored walls. Bad Company or Journey blasting from a boom-box sitting on the change machine. The smell of cigarettes and flat cola. Marking your turn in line with a quarter on the seam of the control panel. Cheering strangers gathering as you moved towards that high score on the Centipede machine. The thrilling “thunk” of a quarter dropping into the slot.

    A quarter had so much more value in the 80s. It was a freaking gold dubloon if there was a Gorf machine nearby.

    The same thing is happening to movie theaters today. With high-end home theater equipment becoming more affordable, many people have a better movie-watching experience at home than in a wallet-raping cinema full of annoying kids. There will be tis exact poll focusing on movie theaters in 10 years.

  11. People tend to forget that arcades had the state of the art technology and console games were the ports. You still cant duplicate certain arcade games at home today. Look at some racing or flying games that had mechanisms that moved your whole body as u controlled. How can u duplicate that on a console? Anyone ever seen time traveler? How?

    What I do miss about arcades is the social aspect. The trend now is people playing at home and going online to play. That will never replace the arcade in that aspect. The sad part is this new generation of kids never experienced it. How can they miss something that they never experienced? And no, chuck e cheese and video game museums don’t count. Those games are like 20 years old. Back then u wanted the newest hottest games that couldn’t be done at home u went the the arcade.

  12. Let me tell u guys a story. I went with a friend of mine to the video arcade museum in new Hampshire to relive the glory days. Didn’t have that much fun. I’ve come to realize why. I didn’t come to the ‘arcade’. I literally came to a dusty old museum with old arcade games, with a dead atmosphere. Bottom line is back then these were the state of the art games, and a huge crowd waiting to play them. Without new arcade games being made, I will never experience that feeling again. Also any newcomers will feel like they are in a dead dust museum. Who wants that?

  13. They don’t know what they’re missing. How I miss the days when “social games” were games like X-Men or TMNT with four real people together in real life standing in a real place socializing together while fending off bottomless hordes of Foot soldiers or Sentinels. Days when “Massively Multiplayer” was referring to the size of the crowd gathering around a Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat machine watching a pair of masters beat each other to a bloody pulp while stacks of quarters would line the top of the control console marking who had next. When your “Leader Board” existed in a specific geographic location and would periodically display itself to let people know what they were up against before they even thought about playing (I like to call it “noob” deterent”). I miss those days and I miss those games. I really do.

  14. More on topic, the poll is flawed. How many in the poll were old enough to experience the arcade at the peak of it’s powers in the 80’s? Any younger and their image of an arcade is old games. I can understand why they wouldn’t be interested. I’m wouldnt be interested either.

    A modern arcade comeback would have games with better graphics than the consoles of this generation. I would really like to see that happen. Make it happen nintendo and call it super Mario universe. That would be really interesting. Just thinking back to the days when gauntlet and MK were new, and people placing their quarters on the cabinet waiting in line for their turn.

  15. Also what would make a modern arcade a big deal would be to use it as a proving ground for new gaming innovations. The problem with home consoles is cost for the mass consumer. That’s why innovations like the Wii happen so seldomly. Someone has to take a risk. If someone like say nintendo opened up some new arcades they could try it out there with their deep pockets. If it’s popular it gets put on a home console. A lot more innovations would then occur in gaming. A few examples would be holographic projectors, 4D gaming and magnetic force feedback.

  16. I have no interest in arcades, really. Here’s why.

    1. Not really old enough to have grown up with arcades before the NES launched and took over.
    2. No games I’d want to play. The only game I ever cared about playing in the arcade was DDR, because the “playing for strangers” experience is something you can’t replicate at home. But I got tired of bad quality machines, and lost interest in DDR in general.
    3. All of the dedicated arcades I knew of (i.e. in local malls) have closed within the past few years.
    4. Don’t want to have to drive to an arcade and pump quarters into a machine to have fun. Would rather pay once for a game, own it forever and play it in the comfort of my home.

    I like rdaneel72’s recollection of arcade magic. As fun as I’m sure it was at that time, it’s a relic of a bygone era that I don’t think will be making a comeback anytime soon as home consoles are increasingly capable of better graphics, better sound, motion control, hi-def movie playback, online and local multiplayer, and other features that outshine whatever the arcade has to offer.

  17. my favorite time that i remember in the arcades was the very late 90’s. mortal kombat 4, killer instinct2, gauntlet legends.

    There were still people playing them at that time and i spent most of my free time learning the MK4 fatalities and cheering on total strangers in a match. that feeling will NEVER be replicated by a home console…sadly

  18. Probably cause the people who were surveyed didn’t grew up with arcades like we did Blake.

  19. I’ve actually taken my “big vacation” for the last two years in New Hampshire, just to go to the American Classic Arcade Museum at FunSpot (which is what Ac was alluding to above). Well, we did other stuff too, but I spent probably 14-16 hours there each year over the course of the week.

    I really enjoyed it for the most part. Yes, it’s a museum, with things like Colecovisions and Commodores under glass, but it’s mainly a working arcade, tokens and all. I loved being surrounded by all the sound effects going off at once, the rows of cabinets in varying states of repair, games I loved but had forgotten about, games I never stopped loving, games I tried for the first time 30 years after their release, and even some (like D2K: Jumpman Returns, essentially an expansion pack for Donkey Kong) that were old yet brand new. Even the music was good for the most part, though I think they just had Sirius/XM’s 80s station on and there were some jarring excursions into stuff like “We Built This City” and “Wild Wild West” that harshed my 1982 buzz. Whatever. If it were all a perfectly accurate recreation of what I remember, I would still be 41 and hurting my back and wrists by leaning over to play the games, not 12 and immune to repetitive stress injuries. I knew that going in. It was a pretty positive experience overall.

    But whether it was because we take our vacation off-season or because the place is bigger than its draw is, there was never a bunch of people lining up their tokens to play a game, never a crowd filling the aisles. And the same was true of the two smaller arcades down the road in the center of town. A few parents would bring their kids in to play Whack-a-mole, and I saw a girl playing a DDR from a few years back, but I had my run of the Mappy and Tempest and Pac-Man, etc.

    Unlike some of the above posters, I think modern arcades could reinvent themselves with Kinect-like technology. Playing Kinect Adventures with a bunch of friends last night (which was about as much fun as any given day during my trip to FunSpot, a bit less because Kinect Adventures is a bit shallow and clunky, a bit more because my friends were there) it was very apparent to me that most of us don’t have room to play that kind of game in our houses and apartments. Without having to let the customer touch the game apart from putting in money, though, that could work well in an arcade setting in ways that previous motion-controlled innovations couldn’t.

    And in one dimly-lit corner, they could have some nicely restored (or recreated) 8-bit machines for us dinosaurs. Maybe make a cabinet of Pac-Man CE DX for us more adventurous old-timers to play while the kids are all jumping around to make their raft jump off ramps or whatever.

    I’ll be going somewhere else this year for my big vacation, but I’ll return to FunSpot for a weekend here and there anyway, as long as it still exists (it actually grew from 2009 to 2010, so I’m hopeful). Yes, I can play any of those games on MAME with my arcade stick and/or spinner. Yes, I can play MP3s in the background of Boston and Duran Duran and even, yuck, Journey. Yes, I could even set up some mood lighting and play some loops of old arcade noises, if I were an even sadder old man than I actually am. But it’s still not the same as playing a real cabinet, especially an older one. Even playing them in a real arcade-slash-museum isn’t the same as it used to be. But it’s close. And it’s something.

    Someone mentioned movie theaters above. It’s not just arcades and movie theaters. All kinds of shared consumer/cultural experiences are dying. Look at comic book stores and music stores. I get what few comics I’m still interested in by ordering them online when I hear about them, which also happens online. And instead of visiting my (late) buddy Don at the local record shop to get recommendations for music I might like, I look at what my friends are posting on Facebook, or listen to music blogs and podcasts, or XMU back when I had satellite radio, and hit Amazon to order a CD or download some songs. My nieces wouldn’t bother with the CDs, they’d just hit iTunes.

    The bottom line is that we’re all getting old.

  20. I just drew up plans to build mine! I wont let them die.

  21. What am I looking forward to at PAX East the most? The classic arcade room that the American Classic Arcade Museum folks setup. Awesome stuff there!

  22. Everytime I travel to California I make it a priority to find a good arcade.

  23. anyone who said “not really” is a faggot.

  24. Miss them? No, not really…

    And back in the old days I would ALWAYS go straight to the arcades whenever I was in a mall, hotel, or anywhere that had an arcade in it. It was the place to take a look at the newest entertaining technology.

    But the attraction to arcades pretty much died with the launch of the N64. When the home console matched and then surpassed the arcade games in graphics quality and sound that was the end of that era. Plus, the insanity of having to plunge in a quarter for two minutes of play got old right away.

    Oh, and the smell… the smell!!

  25. @InvisibleMan: The first arcade I ever went to (and frequented till it closed down 7 or 8 years later) was wedged between a Friendly’s and a “Karmelkorn” store in a mall, so it was constantly filled with the smells of burgers, fries, popcorn and caramel. It was before Space Invaders came out, so I would have been about 7. If I’d been older, I’m sure the smell would have reminded me of a carnival. As it is, any time I’m at a carnival it reminds me of that arcade. Then I can almost hear the “Sea Wolf” noises from those early trips (at least I think it was Sea Wolf), and I go looking for the tiny room of old games that they usually have at those things.