It’s IAAPA Time
Pratt’s Early Rundown of New Games & VR to See in Orlando
by Adam Pratt, Arcade Galactic & ArcadeHeroes.com
Ahh, IAAPA week – a time before the holidays to see new equipment, revisit old friends and enjoy that last taste of summer – at least for those like myself who come from a colder climate. I am writing this before IAAPA has started, but I’ll provide an early roadmap to help you navigate the floor based on what I know at this time. I’ll be there and will be happy to chat, just note that I won’t have a press badge this year. The powers that-be decided that if you’re both an operator and a member of the press, you must be classified as an operator. That said, loyal readers, I always go to these events with my Arcade Heroes reporting hat on first and my operator hat on second.
From the angle of an operator, I am approaching this IAAPA with a more-sullen attitude this year due to the economic circumstances. I certainly hope that all of you reading this are seeing solid business, but for me, this year has been terrible with almost every month falling below last year’s performance. Unfortunately, the situation is such that I have decided to close my second location, which I opened up back in October 2020. I will detail my reasoning in my next article but suffice it to say, I’m in much more of a selling mood than a buying one. My original location is remaining open as it’s been doing fine.
Still, objectively looking at what should be at the show, those who can buy should be in a good spot for 2023. We had a preview of some games at both the International Bowl Expo 2022 in June, IAAPA Expo Europe 2022 and the AAMA Gala in September. Manufacturers have kept busy developing new products, although the industry still hasn’t crawled out of the supply chain, production, and inflation issues that are plaguing every sector of economics at the moment. Those are the main reasons why I’m not in much of a buying mood. I simply can’t afford a lot of the new equipment that’s on display and surviving the last two years has me stretched out on financing as it is. But that’s enough Debbie Downer from me! There will be many new games at the show as well as financing options if you can’t buy them outright.
Some of the new pieces unveiled at the aforementioned shows include: Fast & Furious Arcade (Raw Thrills), Pac-Man Battle Royale Chompionship DX (Bandai Namco Amusements), Asphalt Legends 9 Arcade DX (LAI Games), Golden Tee PGA Tour and Retro Raccoons (Incredible Technologies), Step ManiaX (Step Revolution), Carnival Wheel (Team Play), Jumanji and Allstars Basketball (Sega Amusements), Dicey Jump – Street Version (TouchMagix), Playbox (Playmind), Dodgeball – Ultimate Arena (ICE), James Bond 007 (Stern Pinball), Toy Story 4 (Jersey Jack Pinball), SpongeBob Squarepants Pirates of Bikini Bottom (Andamiro), Big Ticket Drop (Bay Tek), Emoji Roller (UNIS) and Ice Cold Beer Remake (Retro Arcade). VR arcade pieces at IAAPA will include: VR Agent (Sega Amusements), Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride Ultra HD (LAI Games), Rhythmatic 2 (VRsenal), Football Frenzy VR (VRStudios), Birdly VR (Barron Games) and more.
While the above doesn’t constitute an exact list, I would be surprised to not see those games on the floor.
Of course, you may have already seen, played or even own some of those games – a few were also at Amusement Expo 2022. So, what about the “new-new” stuff that hasn’t been at a show before? Well, I’ve heard about a few things that should be there and, just to clarify, what follows is just the best-to-my-knowledge information based on what I’ve been told, as well as what’s been seen on location test. Manufacturers make changes right up to showtime for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s simply because a game can’t ship in time. In other words, don’t blame me if one of these things aren’t at the show.
For standard arcade games, I saw a 4-player version of Asteroids on test by ICE earlier this summer, however, I was already told not to expect to see that one. Raw Thrills had been testing a standard version of Halo: Fireteam Raven earlier this year, but I’ve heard nothing about it since; it also appears that a game they were testing throughout the pandemic, Tecmo Bowl 2021, did not pass muster. Sega has listed a video rafting game on their website called Crazy Rafting for several months now, although I didn’t see it in recent expo photos. They’ve also tested out a new motorcycle game in the U.K. called Storm Rider 2, as well as a redemption version of the toy Bop It! Bandai Namco hasn’t been testing any new video or redemption that I know of but they have been trying the Japanese take on bulk vending called Gashapon at Round1USA locations.
Many have asked me if a new rhythm game from Andamiro called Chrono Circle would be there (it’s also available at Round1USA right now) but that’s one of those games that tends to be held for a surprise. (If it’s not at the Andamiro booth then it likely will remain an R1 exclusive.) LAI Games has advertised that they will have three never-before-seen games at the show (see this issue’s IAAPA product preview for more). Incredible Technologies will have the Clubhouse and home versions of Golden Tee PGA Tour and Arcade Collection.
On the virtual reality side of things, there’s a VR version of Play Mechanix/Raw Thrills’ MotoGP that has been seen on test, a VR version of LAI Games’ Asphalt 9 Legends Arcade and a new piece from UNIS called Sailor’s Quest. (This one appears to combine elements from an arcade shooter with something like Rabbids VR.) VR arena makers will have new experiences to show but admittedly, I haven’t followed those developments closely.
One company that wasn’t at the aforementioned shows, but is coming to IAAPA, is one I’m excited about: exA-Arcadia. They had a booth at last year’s IAAPA but this time, they are bringing along over 30 arcade-exclusive titles and a brand-new cabinet design called exA-Arcadia ARC-1 made specifically for street operators. It looks like a more traditional arcade cabinet but allows you to swap out the control panel between 1, 2 or 4 players. Operators can also change the orientation of the 32” low-lag, full-HD display between portrait and landscape (some games on the platform are optimized for portrait mode and provide a unique customer game experience).
I’ve written about this company before; If you missed it, their exA-Arcadia System is essentially a modern take on the Neo Geo MVS. It features cartridges and allows you to swap games out on the fly. I have two of their previous Showcase cabinets and a number of games. As of this writing, they have over 30 titles to choose from, with prices unheard of these days in the industry. While the cabinet and system are also additional factors in the overall price, this is still one of the most affordable solutions for new content in today’s market.
Naturally, ROI differs from location to location, but it’s been solid so far for me. It’s also allowed me to offer brand-new games such as SNK’s Samurai Shodown V Perfect, a blessing to me during these tough times in that I didn’t have to take out a new loan to afford it. They do have a finance option for the new cabinet; the exA-Arcadia ARC-1 cabinet with exA-Arcadia system is reasonably priced and can be configured with 1-, 2- or 4-player control panels and between one to four games of your choosing.
For other surprises, you’ll just have to attend or follow the coverage online. I do expect it to be a great show –– as usual –– and hopefully it will be a harbinger of a better year to come. If you’re attending, I’ll look forward to seeing you on the show floor!
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].