The arcade is back and better than ever
Competitive socialising has long been hailed as the key to leisure’s renaissance, with mini golf, bowling and darts among those being modernised for current generations as we consumers find ourselves in the age of experience, looking to live life irl, rather than via url.
Communal gaming hubs, such as Belong’s eSport gaming arenas, are increasing their national footprint, taking a slice of the multi-billion-pound at online gaming industry pie. It feels only natural that the next leisure concept in line to take mall space could be the original communal gaming experience: the arcade.
High Score Arcades, a brand-new family entertainment centre offering, opened its third and biggest location to date in July at the Meads Shopping Centre in Farnborough. The fun-packed amusement only venue plays host to over 100 playing positions and 200 different titles.
With three sites now up and running in Farnborough, Newbury and Southampton, Aaron Gilbey, one of High Score’s directors, says that the leisure brand is currently researching further locations. When choosing The Meads, he says the criteria for a space was simple: “We wanted to find a central location with good footfall and easy access for our customers.”
Games on offer at the three sites include everything from old school classics such as pinball tables and sports games to some of the latest amusement machines to hit the market from Sega and Namco. The latest venue also features two super-sized 7m x 2m video wall, which will host a ‘feature game’ each month as a centrepiece attraction.
Explaining the idea behind the venture, Gilbey says that the parent company, Corporate Amusement Services, had been hiring out the arcade games to the corporate and private hire market for the past 25 years but that they wanted to then bring the enjoyment of the games to the general public as an everyday offering at a great price.
The decision to make it family focused – meaning no gambling machines – allows the offer to be accessible to all: “We enjoy seeing families come and all be able to join in together, our offering means that grandad can have a go on the dance stage with the grandchildren or dad can take on the kids with the superbikes,” says Gilbey. “We encourage every member of the family to get involved.”
In order to make sure visitors have plenty of choice, he says the number of games varies at each location but that they always aim for a two games to every one guest ratio, making sure there is a diverse mixture of games at each location to ensure that there is something for everyone. Games are regularly rotated in order to keep each site with new offerings for returning guests.
And on the decision to make it free to play, meaning that visitors need only pay £9.95 for a full hour of free play to any of the machines he says simply: “There is nothing quite like it, we wanted to offer great value for money and something a bit different.”
This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.