Arcades In Japan Keep Closing, Which Sucks

·3-min read
A seat is pulled out in front of an arcade cabinet at Mikado in Tokyo, Japan.
A seat is pulled out in front of an arcade cabinet at Mikado in Tokyo, Japan.


The most iconic arcades will hopefully remain.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the Japanese arcade industry hard. With the country closed off to tourism, it might only seem like big city arcades are the ones that are hurting the most. That’s simply not the case.

Earlier this year, Kotaku reported that things were horrible for Japanese arcades. “The government is doing nothing to help us out of this hopeless situation,” Yasushi Fukamachi, manager at the legendary Tokyo arcade Mikado, said at the time. “Our income has gone down by more than half. This is horrible.”

The Covid-19 situation in Japan has vastly improved, with low numbers of recorded cases. But things for arcades continue to be tough. As cataloged by Kaiten Heiten, a lot of arcades around the country are shutting down. For example, in the last two months, here are all the Japanese arcades that have closed or have announced they will:

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In the past two months, from today November 24 to October 1, that’s twenty arcades that have closed in Japan. On the bright spot, four arcades opened during that same period, including the new Sega Ikebukuro location. But that’s only four new arcades, making a loss of sixteen game centers over the past two months.

Many of these arcades are not in big cities, showing how the industry is being hollowed out across the country. These are smaller arcades, or local chains. They’re in the suburbs or in shopping malls. And they’re vanishing.

But what do people in Japan think? Below is a selection of comments from Hachima Kikou, a popular Japanese game blog:

“If there’s no demand, then I guess this is okay.”

“They’re antiquated, so this can’t be helped.”

“Game centers in the past were good.”

“Arcades were closing before covid, but covid gave them a boost.”

“People who are saying it would be sad if arcades disappeared aren’t going to arcades.”

“The government needs to help them out.”

“Lots of young people don’t know really know about arcades, and it’s only the older folks who will miss them.”

“I guess this is fine, really.”

“It’s a sign of the times.”

“I only go to Mikado.”

“It’s because you can’t smoke in arcades anymore.”

“If Akihabara Hey went out of business, I would truly cry.”

“I thought arcades were switching to VR?”

“To be honest, I want to game at home.”

“This is because no games aren’t coming out.”

“Those huge electricity bills are killing them.”

“Game centers are a place for dudes over 40 to relax.”

“I want Akihabara Hey to stick around forever.”

“If they made money, they wouldn’t close.”

“When Street Fighter IV came out, I often went.”

“Make VR game centers.”

“Things have gotten better since you can’t smoke in arcades.”

“You can play video games of equal quality at home as much as you like.”

It certainly is a shame to see arcades on the decline in Japan, because this is an important part of gaming culture. Arcades won’t completely vanish in Japan. The famous ones, which will continue to be a draw, but the number of arcades across the country will probably continue to drop—more so now than ever due to the pandemic.

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