JAPAN: GAME MAY BE OVER FOR ARCADE GAMES

JONAR COWAN WRITES — In Japan, with the pandemic at hand, many businesses are slowing down and closing down. And as more family-owned businesses and restaurants are closing down, one form of entertainment is doubly impacted: Arcade centers like Sega, which has to sell around 85 percent of their arcade business due to financial losses.

One problem is that the Japanese government is compensating restaurants and bars for their lost earnings while Japanese arcades do not get any such funds.  Another part of the problem is that Japanese arcade companies have been made to close early, which means losing four hours of peak business time.  And even during the re-opening of the game centers, fear of the virus keeps many people from visiting the arcades. This is unfortunate, because Japanese arcades rely heavily on the influx of tourists, whose numbers are in turn limited because ofrestrictions that have been put in place for COVID-19. So the arcade centers are likely to close down.

Japanese arcades for a lot of people in Japan have been a safe haven, providing time to enjoy a break from the stressful bustle of work life. Many games like Street Fighter Claw are relics of a seemingly simpler time. Now both the older and younger generation of people have lost that most foundational form of entertainment.

By contrast, handheld consoles are seeing a large increase in sales and are likely to replace game centers and arcades.

Covid has devastated not just people’s physical health, but their recreational outlets and quality of life as they once knew it-as well as, perhaps, their preferences for what’s easier and safer.

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