In another of his occasional guest features for Arcade Heroes – industry specialist Kevin Williams reports from the first international amusement trade show of the New Year, visiting London’s EAG 2023 and reporting back about the new content headed to arcades in Europe in the near future. This article was a surprise to me as I just asked him if he had seen anything new at the show – this was his response! – ArcadeHero
The London Entertainment, Attractions & Gaming International Expo (EAG) 2023 marks the starting gun of the New Year for amusement and attractions. The UK gathering always brings an international attendance together, as manufacturers from the US and EU bring equipment to operators who are looking to benefit from the lucrative sales deals available from this first-of-the-year event.
While many may assume that the London show would only have just those products presented at IAAPA a few months previously, that assumption is a dangerous one to make. Once again, the value of EAG saw new releases and concepts a plenty on display.
Taking a snapshot of interesting developments
The UK scene is defined by the distribution sector that import the leading developments, as well as gathering unique platforms to support the UK and EU market place, and EAG reflects this. BANDAI NAMCO Amusement Europe is the last remaining Japanese owned Western distributor, and they had a central booth at the show.
Highlighting the booth was the new ‘NFS Heat Takedown’ release from Adrenaline Amusements, which received its first UK appearance along with ‘Dead Heat Unleashed.’ Both games are set to launch within the next few months.
The company imported some of their BANDAI NAMCO Amusement America range to the show including ‘PAC MAN: Pixel Bash’ and ‘PAC MAN Chompionship;’ PAC-MAN’s iconic image was also seen on a branded foosball table, alley bowler and basketball hoops machine, the latter being called PAC-MAN Baller.
Sega Amusements International on the other hand had a booth selection reminiscent of their IAAPA offering, allowing those who were unable to make the Orlando trip a chance to see their latest equipment including the popular new ‘Bop It!’ Toy-To-Redemption concept.
— Sega Amusements International Ltd. (@SegaAmusements) January 10, 2023
Games From The East
Around the show were several new Chinese manufacturer redemption, prize and video amusement pieces. ACE Amusement has become a powerhouse from this territory, with their products being recognized as above-and-beyond the conventional Chinese quality of amusement release in originality and performance. New releases seen at EAG included shooter ‘Zombie Crisis’ as shown above, which cabinet may remind some readers of Namco’s ‘Razing Storm’ design from 2008.
That is hardly the only example however, with ACE Amusement revealing ‘Bullseye: Crack Shot,’ a pistol skill shooting game to compete with other recent entrants into this popular subgenre. The game is available as a videmption or amusement piece, providing both to fit with an operator’s fancy. The company also had some other videmption releases on display, but these two shooters stood out for special attention.
One of the surprise hits of the show was ‘Demolition King’ a Videmption machine from another Chinese manufacturer – using a unique wrecking ball controller that the player swings to demolish the building in front of them. The fun game enclosure offers a compelling experience and saw a lot of interest from buyers on the booth.
The importance of rhythm music games in the EU and UK market (as well as the US scene) can not be down played, and there is still a strong following internationally for a game genre that has been badly supported by the modern amusement distribution scene. That said, distributor UDC had on their booth the StepManiaX franchise being avidly played by local fans. Sources revealed some news that could see a shake in the market in coming weeks, and we hope to have more details on that soon.
Regarding immersive technology that dominated the IAAPA’22 event, there was only a smattering on show at the London event, surprisingly, as seen with Raw Thrills’ upcoming ‘MotoGP VR.’
Another product that joined the immersive fray from IAAPA’22 was the new UNIS VR spectacular ‘Sailor Quest VR’ – the game offering a 4D VR experience that has proven one of the best among the new generation of releases.
TRIOTECH had on the BANDAI NAMCO booth the compelling ‘QUBE’ immersive shooting theater which debuted at IAAPA’22, with four player action and the unique enclosure system. Such big enclosure and deluxe simulator systems are starting to gain momentum with operators, though many are suffering sticker shock in trying conditions of the current economic climate.
The renewed driving game trend mentioned near the top was also bolstered by Raw Thrills’ mega ‘Fast & Furious Arcade’ cabinet. paces. It seemed to be played constantly during the event, the appeal of the motion cabinet showing it’s staying power with the crowds.
In conclusion, the show offers a great sales opportunity for an industry attempting to return to normality. The US attendance was a great sign of this; The international executive presence and accompanying business was strong down on the show floor. This is a heartening factor considering current conditions.
From here we get ready for a crowded few weeks, with the big Japanese amusement trade event (JAEPO) returning to its normal fixture, then the UAE trade event (DEAL), and then in March the return of the US amusement trade event with Amusement Expo in Las Vegas. There is lots of action ahead – stay tuned to this space for more!
AH Note: I’ll also be posting another round-up of EAG’23 news tomorrow.
About the Author – Kevin Williams is a widely-respected specialist on entertainment and technology assisting international clients in developing immersive and interactive entertainment technology and facilities. Kevin is Co-Founder and R&D Director for Spider Entertainment, a global leader in Out-of-Home Entertainment for retail destinations and beyond. Along with advisory positions with other entrants into the market he is founder and publisher of the Stinger Report, “a-must-read” e-zine for those working or investing in the amusement, attractions, and entertainment industry. Kevin is a prolific writer and provides regular news columns for main trade publications. He also travels the globe as a keynote speaker, moderator and panelist at numerous industry conferences and events. Author of “The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities”, the only book on this aspect of the market, the second edition is scheduled for a 2023 release.
Kevin can be reached at [email protected].