Business Strategies: Innovations in Coin-Op Games for Leisure Entertainment Facilities

December 6, 2011

Offering the latest options ranks among the best ways for leisure entertainment facilities to win big with coin-operated games. Vendors continue to innovate in this area, so there is no shortage of new possibilities from which to choose.
For some vendors, innovation comes in the form of games with next-generation interactive features and “bells and whistles.” Coast to Coast Entertainment falls into this category with ReRave Arcade, a collaboration between the company and Step Evolution, a creator of reactive entertainment products. Gary Balaban, Coast to Coast Entertainment’s president, said ReRave is the first music interaction/reaction-based game to feature a 42-inch multi-player touchscreen (touted as promoting “full-player immersion” and a global interactive ranking network. A 1,000-watt sound system with headphone ports allows players to customize their experience, and player profiles, available via PIN entry after users have signed up for a PIN, interface with the ReRave app available online at the Apple AppStore.
Similarly, Raw Thrills Super Bikes 2, new from Betson Enterprises, has a 42-inch LCD panel for high-definition graphics intended to give players the impression that they are actually immersed in the riding scene. A sequel to the original Super Bikes coin-operated game, SuperBikes 2 incorporates 11 new race courses, 12 “super-charged” bikes and nine new riders. Betson has also introduced Dirty Drivin’, a driving game with a 42-inch high-definition monitor and the option to create and store player profiles via numeric keypad as well as to link up to eight seats.
Different twists on old favorites are being rolled out as well. For instance, Namco America has put a spin on the iconic Pac-Man game with Pac-Man Battle Royale. Promoted as the first four-player, competitive Pac-Man arcade game, Pac-Man Battle Royale involves a quest to eliminate one’s opponents by “eating” them; the last Pac-Man standing wins the round. Players can “power up” by “eating” power pellets that double the size and increase the speed of their Pac-Man and enable them to “eat” non “powered-up” blue players and ghosts. “Eating” a piece of fruit or all of the pellets resets the maze with a new set of power pellets. At the end of the game, statistics are displayed for each player, such as “Won Most Rounds” and “Ate Most Pac-Man.”
Innovation is also the watchword in coin-op games designed for the younger set, as well as in those these guests can enjoy as easily as can older kids and adults. Notably, Innovative Concepts in Entertainment (ICE) and Raw Thrills have created a new version of the Frogger ™ game licensed by Konami. Featuring a two-player, podium-style control panel and a 42-inch, horizontally mounted LCD panel that displays brightly colored graphics, the game challenges players to reach the “Bonus Lily Pad” despite passing bugs, floating logs and swimming turtles. Tickets are awarded by eating bugs and adding bonuses en route to the pad.
NBA Hoop Troop, another child-friendly game from ICE, utilizes a 5 ½-inch basketball that is said to be easier for younger players to hold and throw. Players get a chance to add to their score with a three-point “hot shot” at the end of every game.
Savvy owners and operators of leisure entertainment facilities capitalize on the innate appeal of new “bells and whistles” found on coin-operated games by taking steps to draw guests’ attention to them. “This isn’t something we would ever leave to chance,” said Joe Simmons, general manager of Blackbeard’s Family Entertainment Center in Fresno, Calif.
New coin-operated games arriving at the facility are positioned so that they are the first thing guests see when they enter the main floor. “We also put the newest games next to other popular games and even create tournaments around them” to generate a buzz, Simmons noted. A wood sign that bears the message, “Newest Game in This Arcade” is often used to introduce new video games. Additions to Blackbeard’s coin-operated game lineup are also trumpeted on its website, Facebook page and twitter feed.

Industry News

Former Six Flags Executives Purchase Clementon Park and Splash World
Improvements Planned for 2012 Season

Clementon Park and Splash World has been acquired by an investor group led by former Six Flags executives Kieran Burke and Gary Story. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are excited about the opportunity to enhance the entertainment value of this historic park that has always enjoyed a strong group outing business and local market visitation,” said Burke. “Clementon Park and Splash World offers guests quality family entertainment, close to home and at an affordable price.”

“While exploring the opportunity to acquire Clementon Park and Splash World, we were impressed by the park’s loyal customer base and the densely-populated South Jersey/Philadelphia area that surrounds the park,” commented Burke. “Having operated for 104 years, the park has entertained generations of families and we hope to continue that tradition as well as attract new visitors to the park.”

Clementon Park and Splash World has been revitalized in recent years with the addition of four major new attractions. The park enjoys a reputation for service, cleanliness and affordability. Staying on board to lead the park’s continued development and progress is David Dorman, vice president and general manager and Marjorie Ford, the park’s long-time group sales manager.

Burke and Story, who respectively served as Six Flags’ Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer for more than 10 years, have remained active in the attractions industry, carefully selecting projects that can benefit from their experience and a focused investment of both time and resources. In 2009, they acquired Nashville Shores, a waterpark, marina and RV resort in Nashville, Tenn., and in 2010 purchased Ocean Breeze Water Park in Virginia Beach, Va. In both cases, the pair dramatically transformed these properties providing a greatly enhanced guest experience.

The new owners are planning improvements to Clementon Park and Splash World for the 2012 season that will be announced at a later date. Discussions are underway but specific plans are not yet available.

Clementon Park and Splash World, located in Clementon, N.J., is among the oldest operating parks in the country and has been operating since 1907. Founded by New Jersey Assemblyman Theodore Gibbs as a simple swimming operation on Clementon Lake, the property steadily grew by offering rides, attractions and a waterpark. Recent additions include Laguna Kahuna, a five-story, one-acre Polynesian water play land; Ring of Fire, a thrilling 60-foot looping coaster; Thunder Drop featuring a 100-foot free fall; and Torpedo Rush, the world’s tallest dueling trap door speed slides. Today the park boasts 17 rides, a vibrant midway and seven major waterpark attractions and hosts hundreds of group outings each season.

Industry News

US Thrill Rides LLC and Bill Kitchen Announce a New and Innovative Twist in Observation Attractions

Famed attractions “inventioneer” Bill Kitchen has conceived a dramatic new approach to delivering attraction guests to dizzying heights. His new ride dubbed “SkySpire” is a patent-pending tower that can rise from heights of 250 to over 3,000 feet providing guests with unparalleled, 360-degree, panoramic views as they ascend and descend in gondolas that spiral around the structure much like the stripes on a candy cane.
Kitchen’s first foray into business began with broadcast technology where he successfully mastered the construction of very tall broadcast antenna towers. These structures were the inspiration for what he saw as very tall observation rides that require much less real estate than Ferris wheels. The SkySpire elegantly rises to great heights and provides guest a comfortable spiraling ride to the top where they can exit to enjoy views in an observation lounge and then ride spiraling gently back to the earth.
“SkySpire is totally unique and affordable for attraction operators, but most of all, it will be a guest experience that will fully deliver the value of any interesting view,” Kitchen said.
SkySpire follows Kitchen’s patent pending “SkyView” observation wheel, which was introduced in November of 2010 and exclusively licensed to Circle Entertainment SV-I, LLC. Together, patents surrounding the two rides give Kitchen a unique approach in observation attraction technology and his company, US Thrill Rides LLC, is actively commercializing the new design. Several theme parks and venues are pursuing SkySpire because it is affordable, requires a very small real estate footprint, and has substantial rider capacity.
USTR has a track record of looking at expensive attractions and devising much more affordable versions, which deliver all of the thrill at a lower cost while maintaining focus on guest safety. From the SkyCoaster, which fundamentally disrupted the bungee craze in the early 1990s and became one of the best-selling and safest rides in the world, to iFly, which perfected indoor skydiving for a third of the cost of competitors, to UniCoaster, which delivers the experience of a looping roller coaster in a very small area, USTR has proven to have a knack for creating the next new and exciting ride that has real business upside for the owner/operators.
When asked where the first SkySpire will be erected, Kitchen is careful not to reveal the location or timing. “We will leave that to the direction of our developers,” he said. He does mention that his first SkyQuest suspended beam ride system has been purchased and will be going into the Indianapolis Zoo next year. “We are very busy with many attractions, but we are very happy that we can now be a leader in the observation market,” said Kitchen. “Stay tuned, we have gravity, speed, height and physics as our paints on the thrill canvas, we are just getting warmed up.”

Industry News

EAG International Expo Adds Leading Seminar Program

The EAG International Expo’s Seminar Program, taking place January 24-26, 2012, gets ready to rock the show floor with a two-day schedule of leading industry experts sharing their valuable knowledge to the eager UK attendees at this inspirational trade event. 

Invited for a second year in the show’s history, Frank Seninsky, president of Amusement Entertainment Management LLC (AEM) and Alpha-Omega Sales (AOS) and co-regent of Foundations Entertainment University (FEU) (now going into its ninth year), will be presenting during the two-day seminar program. A well-known international speaker on the amusement and redemption scene, Seninsky has also become known for his extensive writing on the sector and also for jointly publishing his world famous “The Redemption & FEC Report” e-newsletter, which goes out to more than 42,000 readers worldwide.

Seninsky will present his sessions, “Ten Critical Steps In Designing and Laying Out a Game Zone” and “Successful Strategies in Running Self-Redemption for Street Operators,” imparting a wealth of knowledge to an audience that will be comprised of visitors to EAG from the operation and development side of the international business.

Amusement Park and Family/Leisure Entertainment Center Managers will also find these seminars to be of great interest and value. Also invited for a second time is Michael Getlan, director of Enthusiasm and Opportunity for Amusement Consultants Ltd, New Roc Entertainment and Smiles Amusement Co LLC. Getlan’s first seminar will be “Redemption Basics: Getting It Right the First Time.” He will also present the seminar, “Working with the Public and Dealing with Difficult Guests.”

Supporting this educational event, the UK’s amusement trade association’s (BACTA’s) Chief Executive, Leslie Macleod-Miller, will join Seninsky and Getlan for the first time. He will update both BACTA and the UK’s theme park association (BALPPA) members on the current state of the industry and explain how the associations are working closely together to improve the future for the industries.

The EAG International Expo 2012 has become a must-attend event, with registrations already ahead of last year. The enhanced seminar program is free to all attendees and is located close to the show floor.

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