Arachnid 360 Goes 360
Company Gets Back to Its Roots, Pushes Forward with Tech & Innovation
Nearly 25 years ago, a family banded together in its love of a budding, evolving sport: electronic darts. That’s when the Beall family took the reins of Arachnid, the premier dart game manufacturer in the industry today.
It’s hard to imagine that the company ever did anything else, but back in 1975, under the leadership of Rudy Allison, they switched from making balloon inflators to electronic dart games. The struggles Allison encountered with optimizing the new dart machines led him to sell Arachnid to Paul Beall, who had a patent law and engineering background. Beall and the team took on the challenge, forged ahead and brought English Mark Darts to market, with Beall remaining at the helm until 1989, when John Martin and Mike Tillery took over.
Coming full circle, the Beall family is at the helm again with Paul’s sons Tony, Chris and Shawn running the company today. In 2014, after years of success under Tillery and Martin, the brothers bought Arachnid from Martin’s estate, renaming it Arachnid 360 and naming longtime employee Sam Zammuto as its president.
Not Your Grandfather’s Electronic Darts
The company’s flagship product, the Galaxy series of electronic dart boards, has seen endless iterations over its 40-year span. It has brought hours of joy to players and countless collections to operators. Today, Arachnid 360 continues to innovate with the Galaxy 3 line of machines, which just enjoyed two updated versions: the Galaxy 3 Fire and Plus.
These new machines, which began production this year on June 1, has already shipped upwards of 500 units. It’s the latest attempt by Arachnid 360 to keep things fresh in a game that has, essentially, existed since medieval times. These new machines continue Arachnid’s trend of utilizing the latest technology to modernize the game. New features include the integration of cameras to connect players around the world, game variations that entertain both the pros and newbies, and a radical new “flip” feature that allows players to up the difficulty by changing the target from 15” to 13”.
“With innovative new technology being developed nearly every day to improve player communication, we are constantly looking at ways to incorporate that into our electronic dart machines with new games and features,” said Zammuto. “The remote play feature has opened up markets all over the world and has improved cash flow for operators’ dart machines when players are not involved in league play.”
Arachnid 360 has a keen eye on other emerging tech trends as well, touting mobile pay, credit card acceptors and more as possibilities for the new G3 Fire and Plus. Additionally, Zammuto says the company’s Tournament King Online (TKO) feature has proven successful and is getting additional features and focus in the new games.
TKO allows players from across the country to play on the same chart and compete for a championship every week, essentially creating nationwide tournaments with participants on almost 22,000 G3 boards. Additionally, Fire and Plus feature new game modes only playable on their rotatable dart heads.
“On the G3 Fire and Plus we have a game menu selection called “David & Goliath.” David is the amateur player who plays on the 15” dart head, and Goliath is the pro player who plays on the 13” side,” Zammuto said. “The machine automatically knows who is playing and will rotate the dart head according to whose turn it is. We think this type of play opens a new group of challenges and excitement for dart enthusiasts worldwide.”
Innovations like this keep the darting community happy, healthy and growing, Zammuto says. However, that’s not the only effort Arachnid 360 undergoes to keep players coming into bars, game rooms and locations nationwide to aim for the bullseye.
Growing Player Base
The company’s BullShooter Regionals and Championship program started in 1985 and is looking forward to its 34th year. It consists of 12 U.S. regional tournaments and one BullShooter European competition, ultimately leading to the World Championship, held annually in Chicago over Memorial Day Weekend. The tournament has kept up growth, with last year seeing a 12 percent bump up in regional players. This growth means more players and more money in the cashbox! Approximately 900 operators worldwide run leagues ranging in size from six players to 500.
“The BullShooter name has been branded continuously as a staple in the dart player community and we take pride in offering quality tournament play to these individuals,” Zammuto said. “For the upcoming BullShooter regionals and championships, we are offering the new style games and more money.”
Though the game of darts has always been a global phenomenon thanks to its simplistic roots and intuitive, competitive gameplay, Zammuto says there are hot spots throughout the country where it is especially popular. The company has always had league and tournament success in the Midwest, their roots, but the introduction of remote play has opened up infinite markets and encouraged increased play in the South, Southwest and West. Currently, the company is working on creating more markets in multiple international areas.
“The ‘A-Team’ at Arachnid is supported by two veteran VPs with about 50 years’ worth of combined experience,” Zammuto said. “Pat Rice heads up the engineering software, hardware and development team, which comes up with up-to-date technology and innovation, while Mike Gannon heads up the customer service staff, handling calls on all Arachnid 360 darts and shuffleboards and is the ‘master’ of the Arachnid software.”
Additionally, Zammuto credits tournament and league growth to the dedication of Arachnid’s organizers and operators’ drive. For all the innovation, many things have remained the same around the Arachnid offices. Zammuto fondly remembers Tony, Chris and Shawn Beall were just children when their father sold the company in ’89. Now, they call him “Uncle Sam” and work hard to ensure their family’s legacy.
“I really felt the Beall brothers would keep the family atmosphere and hometown relationships strong within Arachnid. It’s a family affair when we set up cookouts, pizza parties and dart tournaments for the employees.” Zammuto said. “Not only has our ‘A-Team’ remained strong, but I also think Arachnid has always been one-on-one with our distributors, operators, and even the players, in creating a positive feeling among everyone and promoting soft-tip darts in every aspect.”
For his years’ of service to the industry and company, Zammuto was recently awarded a singular honor: entrance into the BullShooter Hall of Fame. During the Finals this year, the Beall brothers presented the award, leaving him both surprised and grateful.
Awards or not, Zammuto is far from finished shaping the dart industry, and is excitedly looking toward a future full of potential.
“I want the excitement of playing darts in many different locations to remain strong. I would like to see the evolution of darts continue for the next 40+ years with two boards in every location: saloon, tavern, bar and restaurant,” Zammuto said. “Also, I would love to see the evolution of junior dart leagues, especially in high schools as an intramural sport. Creating high school teams and developing a ‘feeder system” into local operators’ leagues would be a big benefit for the coin-operated industry.”
Whatever the future may hold, there will still be people tossing a few darts with a drink in their hand in locations around the world. The game has a nearly unidentifiable origin (who’s to say Neanderthals weren’t tossing sharp sticks at a funny looking tree at some point?), so there’s certainly no limit to its potential.
Visit Arachnid 360 online at www.bullshooter.com.