The most iconic games in the UK leisure market can often trace roots back to the Great British seaside, a true testament to its continuing significance, comments John Crompton – UK and Ireland sales manager at BNAE.
Coinslot: Both for yourself, and the wider scope of the industry, how important are coastal operations?
John Crompton: “The coastal industry is majorly important for a number of reasons for me – and is of major importance to the industry as a whole.I grew up dealing with seaside operators and my family’s business was always keen to offer our coastal customers entertainment and good value for money.
“The coastal market is a very significant part of our industry and the amount of business generated from these locations makes this a key sector for us. Every year, BANDAI NAMCO Amusement Europe takes a truck around the UK coast to show the latest machines to our seaside opera- tors, an event eagerly anticipated not just by us but also our customers.
“Coastal operations are the mainstay for family entertainment in the UK and most of the iconic games we find in arcades can trace their roots back to the seaside.Take pushers,cranes,derby games and novelties – they were all developed for this market and now redemption games follow the tradition, often similar in style to the throwing, light-stopping or whacking games that have always existed on piers and promenades.”
CS: Have you seen any particular products, or product types finding success ahead of this summer?
JC: “Redemption is still very strong in coastal locations.Over the past 12 months, our strongest titles in this sector have included DC Comics four-player closed loop pusher,Space Invaders Frenzy and Spinner Frenzy.Looking forward,we are expecting Blox Breaker and Nerf to be particularly strong this year in the redemption field. Blox Breaker is an ultra-traditional skill game – with a unique magical twist. The player throws balls on different targets that appear on a 65”screen.As soon as a ball touches the screen,it continues its trajectory into the digital realm,all while maintaining its speed.
“NerfArcade from RawThrills is based on the iconic toy sponge-pellet guns that kids love. It’s a two-player seated game where players must blast targets with points on them in a fast-paced,four-level challenge.
“In terms of video,Mario Kart is still number one in the driving market but we expect Superbikes 3 to be very good due to its strong pedigree.Tomb Raider by Adrenaline Amusements has been per- forming very well one site and the Halo Fireteam Raven two-player is shaping up to be another good piece for coastal arcades.”
CS: Coastal operations have always been a uniquely traditional offering to visitors. Are you seeing any change in trends here? Are operators looking at more diverse options?
JC: “I think operators are offering a wider range of entertainment to customers now than ever before.The operators in locations such as Skegness have invested heavily over the years to give more attractions to customers and get more footfall in the locations.In terms of the coin-op offer, redemption has been the big growth area over the past few years and now there are more VR products coming to the market.”
CS: The British seaside is in the midst of a comeback. What do you think is driving this?
JC: “There are a number of factors that are driving this. Firstly, we have had some good weather – last year was a very long,hot summer and this makes an incredible difference. Then the appetite for foreign travel is diminishing due to the weakness of the pound and continuing uncertainty over Brexit. However, it is also important to acknowledge the investment that has been made all over the UK coast in recent years. Piers have been reconstructed, FECs have been opened,towns such as Margate, which has just been praised in the House of Lords report on seasides this week,have done a great job with locations such as Dreamland – which brings new tourism to the coast and coastal businesses.”
CS: New trends and innovation are key to any sector, what areas of development are you looking into for the seaside market?
JC: “VR is a growing trend.I think it is a good attraction to bring players to locations because it offers something a bit different and appeals to a wide audience.We showcased two new VR attractions at the recent DEAL show in Dubai. AiSolve’s We Bare Bears Foodtruck Rush – which is the company’s first third-party licence.”