Tips to Start a Commercial Arcade Business

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Arcades hold a special place in the hearts of many people, evoking nostalgia for a bygone era of gaming. While the rise of home gaming consoles and mobile gaming has changed the landscape, arcades are still unique in their appeal with major manufacturers like Namco, Konami and Taito constantly designing newer and more interesting games.

If opening a non-labour intensive, and really fun business is your thing, read on as we have prepared a basic guide to getting you started.


Research and Planning:

1. Begin by conducting thorough research on the arcade industry, both locally and globally. Analyse successful arcade businesses to understand their target audience, game selection, pricing models, and marketing strategies. Identify potential competitors in your area and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Create a comprehensive business plan that outlines your niche, the target market, the budgeted size of the arcade you're looking to manage, and operational strategies. This planning phase will provide a solid foundation for your arcade centre.


Location and Space:

2. Selecting the right location is critical for the success of your arcade centre. Real human traffic is critical because a big part of the arcade experience is with the crowd having plenty of fun. Look for areas with high foot traffic, such as shopping malls, entertainment districts, or near colleges and universities. Ensure the space is aligned to accommodate a variety of arcade machines while staying within your operational budget. Consider factors like parking availability, accessibility, and lease terms before finalising the location.


Game Selection:

3. Having an exciting collection of games is vital to attract customers and keep them coming back for more. To begin, we suggest considering if you will want to have a ticket redemption model in place. In such arcades, the games are carnival-like, and will dispense tickets which encourages players to return and win more tickets in hopes of redeeming their big prizes. This is a really popular model in Asian cities, and games do not require replacement as quickly. On the other hand, know that arcade machines are not cheap, and your choice of games can easily be a make or break decision.


Acquiring Arcade Machines:

4. Acquiring arcade machines can be a significant investment, so consider your budget and look towards companies like Namco, Sega & Konami to find out about their new releases. It is important to discuss your plans with a reputable arcade machine distributor in your region, as the success of your model depends on how well maintained your machines are. It helps greatly if you have professionals around in this regard. Most reputable arcade suppliers will also provide some warranty or after-sales when you purchase your machines.


Design Your Space:

5. Arcades thrive off a high energy, fun vibe so make sure to use colourful and eye-catching decor, vibrant lighting, and engaging visuals that align with your chosen theme. You will find at Timezone for example, that the entire experience including the scent and sound is properly curated. Bubblegum scent is used to engage customers to be fun, while Japanese theme music is used over the Claw Machine areas. Think this through thoroughly and it is worthwhile to engage a professional to help design one that can maximize the experience.


Marketing and Promotion:

6. Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to attract customers to your arcade center. Leverage social media platforms to build an online presence and engage with potential customers. Create enticing promotional offers, such as discounted game sessions, happy hours, or special events. Collaborate with local gaming communities, schools, and businesses to cross-promote your arcade center. Consider hosting tournaments or gaming events to generate buzz and attract a dedicated audience.


Customer Service and Engagement:

7. Providing exceptional customer service is crucial for the long-term success of your arcade centre. Train your staff to be friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive to customers' needs. It is also important to ensure that your staff are trained in troubleshooting the many machines when needed. While this may be daunting at the start, you will quickly find that most of the issues are fairly similar across the machines. Be sure to get a crash course from your distributor during the delivery process which will help immensely. Having your machines up and running at all times is critical to ensuring your profitability as well as ensuring that your customers have a positive experience that will have them returning again.

Starting a small arcade centre requires careful planning, a love for gaming, and a commitment to providing a memorable experience for your customers. While by no means a guaranteed venture, by following these steps, you will be maximising your chances of creating a successful arcade centre that can be profitable for you in the long run.

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