Arcades In Japan Keep Closing, Which Sucks

Arcades In Japan Keep Closing, Which Sucks
The most iconic arcades will hopefully remain. (Photo: Philip FONG/AFP, Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Japanese arcade industry hard. With the country closed off to tourism, it might only seem like big city arcades are the ones that are hurting the most. That’s simply not the case.

Earlier this year, Kotaku reported that things were horrible for Japanese arcades. “The government is doing nothing to help us out of this hopeless situation,” Yasushi Fukamachi, manager at the legendary Tokyo arcade Mikado, said at the time. “Our income has gone down by more than half. This is horrible.”

The COVID-19 situation in Japan has vastly improved, with low numbers of recorded cases. But things for arcades continue to be tough. As cataloged by Kaiten Heiten, a lot of arcades around the country are shutting down. For example, in the last two months, here are all the Japanese arcades that have closed or have announced they will:

  • Intaa World in Toda, Saitama
  • Amusement Square Tekumopia Mukogaoka in Kawasaki, Kanagawa
  • Amusement Park Sakura in Mie
  • Amusement Land Yaz in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa
  • Amusement MGM in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka
  • Abino Azumino branch in Nagano
  • Game City in Itabashi City, Tokyo
  • Nishigawa Houston in Saitama
  • Game Fantasy Mihama branch in Chiba
  • Am Net in Edogawa, Tokyo
  • Game Fantasyland Dinosaur in Obu, Aichi
  • Game Fantasy Land Moai in Nagoya, Aichi
  • Game Fantasy Land Nile in Tokai, Aichi
  • Game In Sanshou Toyama Station in Toyama
  • Game Fantasy Land Atlantis in Tokai, Aichi
  • Hapipi Land in Tachikawa, Tokyo
  • Kid’s US Land in Nagoya, Aichi
  • Hapipi Land in Minamiashigara, Kanagawa
  • Hapipi Land Sengendai branch in Saitama
  • Hapipi Land in Yachiyo, Chiba

In the past two months, from today November 24 to October 1, that’s twenty arcades that have closed in Japan. On the bright spot, four arcades opened during that same period, including the new Sega Ikebukuro location. But that’s only four new arcades, making a loss of sixteen game centres over the past two months.

Many of these arcades are not in big cities, showing how the industry is being hollowed out across the country. These are smaller arcades, or local chains. They’re in the suburbs or in shopping malls. And they’re vanishing.

But what do people in Japan think? Below is a selection of comments from Hachima Kikou, a popular Japanese game blog:

“If there’s no demand, then I guess this is ok.”

“They’re antiquated, so this can’t be helped.”

“Game centres in the past were good.”

“Arcades were closing before covid, but covid gave them a boost.”

“People who are saying it would be sad if arcades disappeared aren’t going to arcades.”

“The government needs to help them out.”

“Lots of young people don’t know really know about arcades, and it’s only the older folks who will miss them.”

“I guess this is fine, really.”

“It’s a sign of the times.”

“I only go to Mikado.”

“It’s because you can’t smoke in arcades anymore.”

“If Akihabara Hey went out of business, I would truly cry.”

“I thought arcades were switching to VR?”

“To be honest, I want to game at home.”

“This is because no games aren’t coming out.”

“Those huge electricity bills are killing them.”

“Game centres are a place for dudes over 40 to relax.”

“I want Akihabara Hey to stick around forever.”

“If they made money, they wouldn’t close.”

“When Street Fighter IV came out, I often went.”

“Make VR game centres.”

“Things have gotten better since you can’t smoke in arcades.”

“You can play video games of equal quality at home as much as you like.”

It certainly is a shame to see arcades on the decline in Japan, because this is an important part of gaming culture. Arcades won’t completely vanish in Japan. The famous ones, which will continue to be a draw, but the number of arcades across the country will probably continue to drop — more so now than ever due to the pandemic.

Comments

  • It’s interesting how it’s mostly foreigners bemoaning the demise of the Japanese arcade industry, whilst the sentiment domestically – from the skewed lens of social media – is that they were living on borrowed time.

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