Game over for Japanese arcades

Arcades! Thriving long after their British (500 dedicated venues) and US (2500) counterparts retracted into the corners of retro bars and shabby beach towns, Japanese (4000!) arcades are finally "on their last life" due to the Covid pandemic and other, less obvious trends. Japan Times:

"The amusement market continues to face a harsh operating environment given the direct impact it sustains from the COVID-19 pandemic," Square Enix added in its most recent financial results. Capcom also notes that it's not just the foot traffic into arcades that has been impacted, but also the demand for manufacturing amusement machines. The whole industry has been hit.

Knock-on effects compound. For example, with the ongoing border closure, arcades that relied on international tourists are feeling the crunch more than ever. Since last year, a spate of notable arcades in Tokyo have closed, including Sega Akihabara Building 2, an area landmark formerly known as Akihabara Gigo, and the 48-year-old Shinjuku Playland Carnival.

"Business was tough, but I had thought we could get out of this someday," Shinjuku Playland Carnival manager Noriyuki Shimoda told The Asahi Shimbun about the closure. "I can't find the words to describe my feelings."

Reading around the story on the web, I see various complaints that Japanese arcades invested heavily in clubbish features like login cards and online games that turned regulars into whales, but made the games (and the venues) less appealing to passers-by and tourists. So the pandemic might be just the bale that broke the camel's back.