More IAAPA Product News Notes
by Adam Pratt, Arcade Galactic & ArcadeHeroes.com
I’m writing this as people are getting ready to travel to Orlando for IAAPA, but by the time you read this, the show’s already happened. Ah, the fun of magazine deadlines and trade shows that fall smack-dab in the middle of them! What I hope to do here complement RePlay’s breaking news coverage earlier in this issue and the game information presented the October and November issues to give you as full a picture as possible of what’s new (or coming soon) to the market. If some of this contradicts reporting from the show floor, please accept my apologies. (Also see my post-IAAPA blog posts at arcadeheroes.com.)
The convention center’s outdoor exhibit area has grown larger than last year (though still has not returned to the same level as in 2019). Inside though is where I find what always brings me to Orlando – the Games & Arcade Pavilion. No longer carrying the “coin-op” moniker because of the widespread use of card systems, this area is where you’ll find your favorite “arcade heroes,” the companies that make the games that keep us all going. Based on my latest intel and with the caveat that IAAPA always brings a surprise or two, here is a rundown of key exhibitors (in alphabetical order):
Ace Amusement isn’t well-known in the U.S. yet, but that seems to be changing as more and more distributors are carrying their games. These include titles like Bullseye Crackshot, Dinosaur Era and Galaxy Rangers, which are sold by Coastal Amusements. We’ll have to wait to see what taking their own exhibit space means and if future plans call for establishing a U.S. warehouse.
Adrenaline Amusements debuted their original sit-down shooter game Drakons: Realm Keepers, which has been testing at numerous locations across the country since this summer. It uses a motion platform and a unique square shaped LED panel (not a TV), helping it stand out from the norm.
Andamiro USA introduced their first crane, Crazy Toy. IAAPA also provided the first time most of the industry got to see their new Pump It Up 2023 Phoenix dance machine (though some of you may have already grabbed one since it’s been available since August).
Amusement Source International continues to grow and premiered three new games, showed alongside previously launched titles: Junkyard Rumble, Nitto Racer and Parkour Motor 2, all with video redemption gameplay as a part of their play packages.
Bandai Namco Amusements keeps their cards close to their chest, so my best guess is that they showed Goldstorm Pirates, the sequel (possibly a prequel) to Deadstorm Pirates, along with Bike Dash Delivery and the Taiko No Tatsujin USA model.
Barron Games International has been flying high with Birdly VR ever since they added that to their product line-up and brought the latest software the system has to offer. New is Birdly World, which hosts the previously standalone experiences in one place and offers more than 2,500 locations to explore. There’s also Birdly Moments, an automated audio/ video recording feature for saving and sharing. Barron also showed the Koliseum VR foosball table, which blends classic gameplay with unique sensations.
Bay Tek had a couple of recent launches: Hot Shot Basketball and Toilet Bowl Toss. For example, I’m not sure if they brought some of the games on test I know about like an American football game called QB Throwdown or another piece I’ve heard will be testing with Round1USA soon.
Chicago Gaming Company used to be focused on arcade-quality products for residential customers but they’ve quickly garnered a reputation as a player in pinball. Those games have generally been quality remakes of beloved classics like Medieval Madness and Attack From Mars, but more recently, they have an original title on their docket, Pulp Fiction, designed by Mark Ritchie and the team at Play Mechanix.
Coastal Amusements showcased the aforementioned games from Ace Amusement, including a non-water model of Dinosaur Era, along with a title that recently appeared at IAAPA Expo Europe called Surf League. It’s a video surfing game that uses surfboard controllers and offers tickets as an option. Coastal also brought titles like Snow Day back and debuted new cranes such as a 60” piece and a 2-player Show Time series model.
Elaut USA showed off their big hits like the latest eClaw series cranes and Wizard of Oz pushers, but also introduced a new RFID coin pusher featuring the Smurfs. That pusher should certainly attract the attention from Gen Xers and those “Xennials” like myself who grew up watching the show on Saturday mornings. Benchmark Games, part of the Elaut family, also showed a licensed Superman puck pusher.
ExA-Arcadia, because of a booth scheduling conflict, wasn’t able to have the same setup as last year, but thanks to both AVS Companies and Player One Amusement Group, there were some exA-Arcadia cabinets to play. At this writing, the list of games to be exhibited wasn’t finalized, but five new games are very close to launch, including a beat ’em up called Jitsu Squad (a different version than what was at Amusement Expo), and four new fighting games that can help revitalize that old market.
In the First Time Exhibitors pavilion was Gesture Art & Design which had a new video redemption game, Food Flight. I’ve previewed this on Arcade Heroes, having the opportunity to go to California and see this evolve from an early alpha build to the game that was at the show. It’s a simple game where your body is the controller. While it is using a similar concept to the Microsoft Kinect, the technology and the implementation of it has vastly improved from the days of the Xbox 360. You really have to move around but the sensors track your body accurately, with even small movements translated onto the screen.
ICE is generally coy about what they will bring to the show but as always, they have a giant booth divided by the walkway. I’ll assume they have a setup similar to last IAAPA weith an emphasis on Dodgeball Ultimate Arena and World Football Pro but perhaps they had a nice surprise, too. They were working with the team at Play Mechanix on a new multiplayer version of Atari’s Asteroids. This was some time ago, and I don’t know the status of the project post-testing.
While IGPM/Kalkomat might not focus on the video games I cherish, they do have a wide range of boxer and other fitness-focused games. They introduced us to Hit The Green last year, and this year, unveiled their latest: the MMA Boxer.
Jersey Jack Pinball had its brand-new Elton John, the latest creation from the mind of the legendary Steve Ritchie. I also expect that they showed other recent releases like Guns ’N Roses. I doubt that Sir Elton John made an appearance at their booth though (perhaps a look-a-like or at least a piano?). A guy can dream, right?
JET (Jennison) had a similar setup to their Bowl Expo booth, showcasing their in-production Big Shot light-gun game and the Quick Shot ball-toss game. Joining them was a swashbuckling video redemption piece called Cannonball Drop, which comes with a black pirate flag and a molded cannon controller. Ahoy!
I don’t have any recent intel on what debuts were expected from Komuse USA, but when I last saw them (in Vegas), they had Air Slide, a neat way to adapt air hockey into a redemption game.
LAI Games unveiled four new games at IAAPA. Asphalt Moto DX is a “sequel” to Asphalt 9 Legends Arcade in which you’re driving a licensed superbike instead of a supercar. (In one game mode, you can race against the cars.) They also debuted Air Strike (an aerial combat simulator with a swivel seat reminiscent of Sega’s AfterBurner Climax DX), Dragon’s Bane (a coin pusher with a video game element to it, thanks to a giant screen), and Demon’s Tower (a somewhat more traditional pusher with a new hook).
Playmind is still relatively new to the biz and showed a new, enhanced version of their multiplayer ball-toss arcade game called Playbox and also debuted Youplay. The latter is a system designed for FECs that scans a player’s body into the game, which then becomes an avatar that is used for a series of mini-games. The controls are simple, but the hook is playing as yourself inside of a game.
Raw Thrills made its usual big impression by continuing to push the envelope on VR arcade games. They had Godzilla Kaiju Wars VR, which blends elements of King Kong, Fast & Furious Arcade and Jurassic Park together and is expected to become the company’s new flagship product.
It was also joined by a new standard version of Fast & Furious Arcade (without motion and two smaller screens), a giant content update for Big Buck Hunter Reloaded that included a new iteration of The Walking Dead as a selectable game, and the return of their Halo: Fireteam Raven “4-player tethered model.” I still prefer to call it the Assault Model, since it uses the Assault Rifle from Halo.
Sega Amusements made a splash with several new games – from some redemption/prize games that they brought to IAAPA Expo Europe (Ballzania, Skill Fall Revolution), to new video and video redemption titles such as Hyper Cross and Zombies! Ready, Deady, Go! Hyper Cross is a traditional video racing game that uses snowmobiles as vehicles and was designed by IGS & Wahlap (who also designed Sega’s Storm Rider 2 and Crazy Rafting); Zombies! Ready, Deady, Go! is a derby-style video redemption game for 1-4 players that features racing zombies instead of horses.
By the way, Sega’s 2-player version of Bop It! (debuted at last year’s IAAPA) was recently seen out on test. There is also a racing game from 3MindWave (a Hong Kong company that developed ATV Slam, Jumanji, and VR Agent for Sega) on test in the U.K. called Apex Rebels that might have made an appearance but that remains uncertain since the company is also launching Hyper Cross at the same time.
Smart Industries doesn’t tend to touch video games or video redemption, but they had a game that’s been on test and doing exceptionally well called JJ Bot – The Avatar. It’s a crane machine with a robot that interacts with the player as they try to grab the prizes. I expect this to be Smart’s new flagship piece for a while to come.
Step Revolution debuted Step ManiaX Deluxe at IAAPA 2022 and has been busy promoting that alongside the Standard version. I’m not aware of any surprises they might have in store, but any new game will likely be rhythm based.
Stern Pinball previously unveiled Venom, which joined titles like Foo Fighters and James Bond 007 at their booth. They won’t be launching any new-new pin at this event, though I’d expect the rerun of Stranger Things to have made an appearance. The factory did showcase its Insider Connected leaderboards across its game lineup.
Team Play has been rather quiet on new games, so I would not be surprised if they use this event to launch a new piece. Regardless, I’m sure Carnival Wheel was prominent at the booth.
TouchMagix recently announced a new licensing partnership with Pudgy Penguins and before Expo promoted “the launch of adorable penguin plush toys and much more.” On the game front, starring at their booth were Pop It! (which was at Bowl Expo 2023), a new-new capsule redemption game named Crazy Prize, and the Carnival Cups Crane (shown at IAAPA 2022).
Triotech has developed some high-profile dark rides in recent times, including a new roller coaster found in “my backyard” called Primordial, but also have products for the amusement/ arcade space. Last year saw their reveal of Qube, and they’ve continued promoting their Storm VR and Typhoon 10th Anniversary platforms. If they will add something else to that mix, I haven’t heard about it yet, but they did have a press conference set for Nov. 15!
UNIS might win the award for “Most Products Launched at IAAPA,” if such a prize existed, with 10 new games ready to roll at this expo. A few are prize machines (either cranes or instant merchandisers) among those titles, but they also had few new video redemption games around: Raccoon Rampage for 1-4 players with water cannons; Lane Master Xtreme, a sequel to their Lane Master video bowling game; and Emoji Frenzy, the third in UNIS’s emoji series of redemption games (although it might be a slight stretch to call it video redemption). They also unveiled a new whacker redemption game called Godzilla Vs. Kong for up to four players.
UNIS had a new video game that is somewhat of a sequel to Bigfoot Crush called Bigfoot Mayhem. Instead of being targeted towards kids, this is a full-sized arcade racer starring the iconic monster truck from the ’80s. The cabinet uses a pair of stacked 65” monitors and a motion base.
Wahlap had their own booth as they often do, though some of their higher-profile games were found at other booths, as mentioned. At press time, I didn’t have any news on what pieces they’d show at their exhibit.
Last but not least is a new company that has been advertising in RePlay and called Zooom Studios. With seven titles including Duck Pond Frenzy, Monster Prize, Arctic Cool Spot, Space Race and others, all redemption focused (but perhaps a couple might be video redemption?). They also showed a couple of cranes.
On the VR front, there were quite a few companies that showcased their latest, including Creative Works, Hero Zone VR, Hologate, Inowize, Rilix, SPREE Interactive, Virtuix, VR 360 Action and VRsenal. I am not aware of many brand-new product announcements from these companies but I’m sure showgoers saw plenty of action in this sector and from adjacent companies like Valo Motion.
That’s it for my pre-show/post-show product guide, but I did want to make a final comment as we close out the year on equipment prices. I’ve heard the pricing on some of these games and while I thought I was all sticker shocked out, it turns out there are numbers that still make me cringe. I suspect it won’t be as much of a problem for the big chains that some of these games are aiming towards. But, thinking back to when I was starting up my arcade, I’m not sure how you would do it today. The arcade biz never was the best place for a noob to get started and that is even less the case now where low-end seems to be $12k games and “normal” is consistently pushing above $30k price tags.
You might be saying, “Yeah, Adam, but you’ve bought super expensive games in the past!” That’s true. Perhaps the naivete of my slightly more youthful self and spending big bucks on certain big-budget items only to see them fall short of a good ROI, has spoiled my stance on that. Having a tepid year on earnings in general isn’t helping my outlook either.
I get it – inflation has affected a lot more than just food and rent – but I sure hope that some deflation can kick in at some point and we start seeing more games under $10k again.
Moving away from that sour note, let’s celebrate the fact that our industry has bounced back after the past few years and we have some great new experiences to offer customers. I hope you all had an awesome IAAPA, that your business bucks any bad trends, that you had a great 2023 and have a better 2024!
Adam Pratt is the owner and operator of Arcade Galactic near Salt Lake City, Utah, and also publishes the Arcade Heroes blog site. He can be reached at [email protected].