Pinnacle Entertainment’s veteran consultant George McAuliffe has an article inside this issue in which he declares that coin-op is presently living and working in the “Golden Age of the FEC.” Having advised family center startups, as well as seasoned long-timers who’ve been building and running these mini amusement parks for years. George is not only witnessing the robust health of that side of the business but is telling readers why things are so good.
Though his piece hinges on the bowling entertainment center (which goes on stage at its International Bowl Expo later this month), he makes a universal point that game arcades are not the principal domain of the teenage male player like yesterday. Now, with all the food and drink and other bells and whistles, they’re everyman’s sandbox – and everywoman’s, too – from the gray-haired grandparents through middle-aged Millennials to youngsters.
I’m going to share an anecdote I’ve used before that bears repeating. An east coast railroad company which once flourished got its brains beaten in by the trucking industry because it missed noticing that they were in the “transportation” business and not just the railroad industry. Truckers stole the action from those once-ubiquitous freight cars. But rather than adjust to this and start buying up semi-trucks, that railroad stuck it out doing just what it always did without moving with the times.
Our industry is populated by a legion of route owners, many of whom have never dabbled in anything remotely like an arcade much less its big brother, the FEC, or even those scaled-down setups so popular in tons of bowling alleys.
I know it’s hard to change your stripes from running jukeboxes and games on a string of bars, pizza parlors, C-stores and the like, and to take a plunge into something like an arcade of one sort or another. But all I ask is to keep the eye out for the opportunity. It could be taking over the games section of an existing (or brand-new) FEC. Or, look around the territory to see where else besides a bowling center that a mini-cade might go in.
You say you’ve been there in arcades and had to pull out? Nothing’s forever…or as Columbus reportedly advised: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Coin-op games are most often the most profitable part of an FEC, so say research reports. And remember that contempt prior to investigation never got the cheese. Arcades and routes are both part of coin-op. Maybe you ought to think a bit harder about that!