First Timer at China Show
Worthwhile Expo Trip Generates Enthusiasm For New Equipment Coming to Market
by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball & PinballSales.com
As I write this, I’m flying home from Hong Kong and the IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo held June 5-8, which I attended for the first time. It’s just around 15 hours back, but don’t feel sorry for me since I was upgraded on the flight and I actually slept, something those who know me well will find surprising.
The show wasn’t the biggest I’ve ever been to, but overall, it seemed well attended, and everyone was in a good mood and spending money. I had some solid meetings about making inroads with Jersey Jack Pinball in China, but it’s a bit like throwing a snowball in hell since pinball has almost no footprint to speak of in the country, even with its vast, 1.4 billion population. But I love a challenge! We do have a few games here and there, but we also have customers who have more pinballs in their collection than in all of China.
It is possible that pinball may never have much of a footprint in that nation because of cultural and economic conditions, but the trip to the Expo was worth it. I’m happy to report that other amusement games are very much alive and well in China.
Based on what was on exhibit, I can tell you that you can expect to see reasonably priced VR games on display at this year’s IAAPA in Orlando come November. (As technology continues to improve and pricing comes down, ROI gets better, but the first to rush into any new tech will usually pay more and deal with a steep learning curve.) There were many new, conventional pieces on display that will be coming to market, too. The hardest part for many existing locations will be figuring out where to put these new games.
I’ve often said, “It’s never a bad time to buy a good game.” Don’t let the footprint required for new games hold you back from updating your locations. Sell off less profitable or older games and make way for the new stuff! Don’t fall into the old ways of thinking that since a game is already paid for, you might as well keep it on the floor. You will probably find that buying new games will give your location a bounce and engage your customers more. They’ll get them to spend more of your money that’s in their pockets, get them to stay in your venue longer and come back more often.
Ready to help is your amusement machine distributor. The role these dealers play in your success can’t be emphasized enough. Distribution provides support for manufacturers, operators and location-based entertainment centers, and is a go-to source for help with equipment financing and leasing. They also take trade-ins (though you can also try selling older games on Craigslist and eBay, often to home customers, or donate them). What’s most important is to move the older pieces out and make room for the new! Don’t be frozen out of buying new equipment because you “do not have room.”
Think of your amusement center this way: How much does it generate per square foot and how much more could it make if you eliminated the games at the bottom of your collection reports. You know which ones I’m talking about: the games that don’t really earn their keep or the ones that require too many replacement parts and service attention? (Sometimes, I’ve actually sold off games that were still earning well because they had a solid resale value. I got top dollar for the older pieces and made room for new games at the same time.)
Take a look at what you have and open your eyes –– and wallet –– to take advantage of great new equipment. Make room to make money! It’s never a bad time to buy a good game.
Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999, PinballSales.com, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at [email protected] jerseyjackpinball.com.