Namco Bandai blamed the Wii for the closing of 50 arcades in Japan. They cited it as the main reason for the closures according to a report by Reuters.
When I read this all I thought was, “Why on earth do the Japanese still play at the arcades?” It was then that I realized that to the Japanese gaming isn’t part of a fringe culture, as it used to be in the U.S. (and in some form still is). This is an popular, family pass time. However, I can’t really feel sorry for Namco Bandai.
This is a company that has its hands in everything from action figures to video games, so when they start crying that the Wii is beating the crap out of one of their money generators, I find it hard to feel anything aside from indifference. It’s like a rich kid crying about getting an insignificant scratch on his or her Maserati.
This gaming giant isn’t satisfied with making a buck (or a yen in this case) off of their games but they also want people to drop money into the money pit that is an arcade. Arcades dwindled in America mostly because people realized that they could have a similar, although never equal, experience in the comfort of their own home without having to spend that week’s laundry budget trying to beat some impossible opponent. Thanks to the Wii, the Japanese are now realizing it too.
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Reuters' report further says that Bandai’s stock plummeted because of this, and yes, it is never good when a company that makes decent games starts to feel the squeeze of the changing trends. However, they have to adapt. They should keep some arcades running for those that still enjoy it, but don’t berate the Wii for being successful. Namco Bandai should start developing more games for the console, start putting that arcade technology to use in that market and acquire exclusive rights to ensure a place in the Wii gamer’s library.
With Smash Brothers Brawl breaking 800,000 copies sold last week, I’m pretty sure Namco Bandai is crapping their pants since that means 800,000 plus people staying home snapping Nintendo characters’ necks using Solid Snake.
The article also mentions that Japanese families are staying home due to price of petrol increasing. You know things are getting bad when people stop going out because the drive is too expensive. This is a lesson for those that think gas prices going up doesn’t affect everything, even gaming companies aren’t exempt. -- Elvis Ramirez