As someone who spent many a wayward afternoons wasting both time and money at the arcade, it’s been depressing to think both advances in home gaming and their lack of profitability have essential made them endangered species. The biggest factor in their demise, however, is America’s reliance on the quarter.
“My feeling is that this really had a negative impact on the arcade business. You go to the arcade and there was such a range of games. It was amazing when we had this golden age.”
What remains today, Cerny says, is Japan as the single shelter for arcade gaming. And that boils down to their 100 Yen coin.
“Our economy is based on the quarter,” he said. “We lobbied Washington several times to get a dollar coin because we felt if it was just pocket change, it’s in your pocket, you put it in a machine. If you need a dollar to play you can have a ten minute experience.”
Of course, there efforts didn’t really come to fruition. While in Japan, arcades were able to standardize the 100 Yen coin for their machines.
It was that single change, moving from 50 Yen to 100 Yen, that revived the Japanese arcade industry, Cerny said.