Did Console Kill the Arcade Star

I’ve just returned home from a weekend away in our now regular holiday haunt of Rockley Park, and something twigged a techno-nerve whilst we were away and that is the title of this post: Did Console Kill the Arcade Star?

I’m from Southampton, and in the 1990’s at home the craze was Segaworld which was I must say a pretty awesome arcade with all the games of the day available, however in this 21st century, modern, interconnected, high definition world how can the arcades compete?

In yester-year, I was a massive fan of Sega Rally and Time Crisis 2, however I step into an arcade today and the games are exactly the same.

I’m an avid fan of gaming at home. I own a Wii, PlayStation 3 and my PC to scratch the World of Warcraft itch, however I can definatly see a place in the gaming eco-system for arcades or at least I would if they tried to be competitive. The games available today at viewed on our 40” LCD television, in 5.1 surround sound or 7.1 if your rich in glorious 1080p resolutions. Mix this with a few gamers perks that some people invest in, like a gaming chair or even a decent set of Logitech driving controls (aka steering wheel, pedals and a gear shifter) and you have a fully immersive gaming experience which not only gives you the same feel as the arcade but a significantly improved visual and audible experience.

Compare the graphics in Forza 3 from the Xbox 360 or Gran Turismo 5 Prologue on the PS3 to that of Ford Rally or Sega Rally and well….you can’t even compare them and that’s excluding the fact that even the most cared for arcade has broken things – Badly forcing steering wheels or flappy flappy paddles on a paddle-shift gearbox.

Then take all of this, and add the interactivity of the Wii, Project Natal for the Xbox 360 and whatever Sony deem their motion sensing offering to be and you add another dimension to the leaps ahead that console gaming has taken. Originally the arcades had guns for the shooters, but it didn’t even take long for home gamers to get these add-ons at their disposal, and now you can get fully fledged imitation weapons for playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 or gun holsters for your Wii remote.

All in all, arcades have had a rough time since the dawn of the next-gen consoles, however I do wonder if one day the attention of the developers and the studios will come full circle upon the arcades and bring them up to date again? In a way I hope so – I just hope they don’t expect they can continue to charge £1 or £1.50 per play for them when I can buy a fully licensed version of the game with unlimited credits for £35 for home use in my own personal arcade.

I would love to one day see some interactive services where arcade games can link to Xbox Live gamer tags and share games in common with the home systems such as Forza. Just imagine being able to play Forza 3 or GT 5 in the arcade, using cars from your own garage which have been collected from the systems internet connection or Wi-Fi and then once the race is over you can upload the times and race stats to your profile and share them on Facebook or Twitter with your friends?