Customers Favor Music and Redemption

In the last decade, coin-op amusement companies have witnessed many changes in their industry as well as changes in the demand for different types of games. Where traditional games once were a major attraction in bars, taverns and other venues, it is the internet jukebox and redemption games which offer higher quality merchandise that are getting the attention.
Andrew Waldman is president and CEO of Class Amusement & Vending in Dayton, Ohio.  In existence for more than 20 years, the company carries internet jukeboxes, pool tables, full service snack, food and soda vending machines as well as ATMs.  Most of machines are in the Dayton and Montgomery County area.
“We still have games, and they are in our locations, which include a variety of venues from bars and restaurants to amusement parks and truck stops,” explained Waldman.  “However, I am seeing a move away from the games and a move toward redemption and the internet jukeboxes and pool tables too.”
Waldman noted that the redemption games do not get outdated and do not require expensive software updates or a major investment in new games.
“I do see some of the standard games maintaining popularity. The gun games and games that have to do with current entertainment and movie trends still do okay. Also the Golden Tee games and racing games where players compete with each other get use,” he said.  “We will service and bring in these games for long-standing accounts, but we know that in six months we are going to have to do an expensive software update or change the game platforms. I don’t really see new games coming down the pike, especially any that can compete with the home gaming systems.  But the redemption and claw games, as well as the internet jukeboxes, are popular wherever we put them.”
As President and owner of Coin Drop, Inc. in Naples, Fla., Bob Schuster services a three-county area in the southwest region of the state.  His games and amusements are in resorts, hotels, bowling centers, skating rinks, sports bars, taverns, mom and pop businesses and laundromats.
“We are geared toward skill-based games and self-merchandising games,” Schuster noted.  “We do not carry anything trendy. I also have noticed that the novelty and popularity of some games like the Golden Tee has fallen off, but it is still a somewhat stable bar piece.”
When Schuster sets a location, he uses an assortment of games, including flat-screen LCD games to redemption and Internet jukeboxes.
“We also have found that games like Barber Cut, which offer higher-end prizes such as iPod accessories, do well still.”
Located in a touristy area, Schuster has not seen too much of a drop in his revenue in the tough economy, but he does have concerns about the future.
“My biggest worry as a street operator is the lack of affordability of the games and the effect that will have on the revenue sharing between us and the customer.  I don’t think we can see the return on investment like we once did. It’s hard to keep up that 50-50 split when the games start with a price tag of $4,500. We try and avoid the new purchases and update the software on the golf and bowling games as best we can.”
Ron Jones and Duane McCoy are co-owners of Coin Operating Vending Co. Inc. in Columbus, Ohio.  The 28-year-old company services more than 40 locations, mostly taverns, throughout central Ohio.
“We offer Internet jukeboxes, big screen Silver Strike Bowling, big screen Golden Tee Golf and an interactive boxing game,” said Jones. “The jukeboxes are the best performing amusements in taverns now. So many people have iPhones or smart phones with apps that work well with the jukeboxes.  They can use the apps to take photos and sing karaoke.  We have also updated the Silver Streak and Golden Tee by installing 42-inch LCD TVs, and this has helped revitalize the games and spark a new popularity, which should last about a year or so.”
While interactive boxing was a big hit in 2010 and 2011, Jones does not see anything new on the horizon to take its place yet.
“Games are tough. We are constantly trying to use software updates or our own updates like the LCD TVs to rejuvenate them and bring back the appeal, but people get bored easily and they have state-of-the art game systems at home, so it’s hard to compete with that.”
As General Manager of Cole Vending, G.P. Cole operates Cole Vending with his father, Jerry.  The Dallas, Texas-based company services 20 locations in the Dallas metro region.
“We do mainly bars and bring in Internet jukeboxes, pool tables and in one location, a dart machine. We do not do golf or bowling games anymore, as the demand for them has dried up for us, and they are too expensive to buy now,” G.P. Cole explained.  “This industry has changed so much in the last 10 years, we have watched the CD jukeboxes turn into the internet jukeboxes and people love them because of the apps on their smart phones.  The bar top games are going through the same thing. People can play better games on their phones when sitting at the bar. They don’t need the bar-top games, and their home gaming systems are so sophisticated that the ones in the bars don’t really entertain them as much.”
Cole does track the industry and games that do come out, but for this year, he has not seen anything that would make him want to make the investment.
“The games come with such a big price tag. They are just not worth the expense for us.  We would have to know that our customers and us would see revenue from placing them in their tavern or bar, and I don’t see anything that is going to bring games back to that level right now, but who knows what the future holds.” –

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