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November 2015


The amusement machine business runs a lot of trade shows in the course of a year. It has local and regional machine exhibitions courtesy of some distributors (Specialty Coin, for example, just held a big one in Portland, Ore. the 24th of October). Also, some operator associations still stage medium-sized product showings during their annual meetings. Then, of course, comes the two big national shows, with the Amusement Expo in the spring and the IAAPA in the fall. The first one (usually held in Las Vegas) is perceived as an event for route operators, while the second (IAAPA, usually in Orlando) is for game room people (e.g. FEC folks).

There’s some truth to that route vs. arcade perception, as anyone who’s visited both shows can see within ten minutes when walking the floor. For example, the digital jukebox companies always have large displays at the spring Amusement Expo (route stuff) while all the things that make up an FEC (including rides small, medium and large, along with midway games and the like) strut their stuff at the IAAPA. The commonality between both shows, however, is the spread of new coin-op games, meaning, that if an amusement machine operator of any stripe wants to keep up-to-speed on what’s new, he really ought to go to both.

And there it is. Keeping up-to-speed on new games! If you talk to most of today’s game makers, many will tell you that route operators are no way as interested in keeping the machine mix as current as the game center folks are. It’s also been said, and said for decades, that those same game makers sell a whale of a lot more equipment at the IAAPA than they do at the spring event, and this was also the case at the former AMOA “route operator” shows that used to take place in the fall.

One side (the manufacturers) say game center operators are buying the bulk of the machines produced today, and as a result, they’re designing most of their games for that crowd. The other side, the route operators, say there’s nothing new for them to buy because everything with shoulders on it is designed for the arcade. In truth, there is partiality, especially in the ticket redemption area (for obvious reasons). That’s why auto-prize merchandisers were invented…so route operators could get a taste of this trend.

The R&D wind has been blowing toward the game room rather than the street location for a long time. Manufacturers make what people buy. So, does that mean street operators should take a second look at the total spread of new equipment and, rather than turn a blind eye on everything that shoots out a ticket, consider how the same game without tickets might work on the street? Yes! A number of operators in the Northwest have been effectively running no-ticket 10’ ski alleys in bars, and doing very well entertaining players who only care about high scores, team wins, bragging rights and free beers. Are there any other redemption machines that could tickle the toes of the bar crowd –– if you turned off the ticket mech –– besides ski bowlers? Think about it!

Direct email to RePlay Magazine's Editorial Director Key Snodgress.

To send email to RePlay Magazine, it's editor@replaymag.com

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