Despite the easing of restrictions in multiple countries around the globe as the general populace is vaccinated and immunized against the COVID-19 pandemic that started almost two years ago (can you believe it’s already been that long?!) the repercussions of this long period of lockdown still weighs heavily on the metaphorical shoulders of countless businesses and industries worldwide.
Almost a year ago, we wrote about the sad story of Akihabara’s famous SEGA Arcade being permanently closed after 17 years of service due to a variety of reasons, among which the ongoing restrictions played a crucial role. After all, for businesses that subsist mainly on tourism, having their main source of income shut down for well over a year doesn’t bode well for continued operations.
Today, however, it seems the mounting pressure from a variety of circumstances is claiming another popular Japanese business, Tokyo’s own Sega Ikebukuro GiGo. The announcement came from the official GiGo Twitter account this August 2nd, where the company announced that, as of September 20, 2021, the popular arcade would be shutting its doors permanently, “due to the expiration of the fixed-term building lease contract for the facility and the renewal of the building.”
— セガ池袋GiGO (@SEGA_ikebukuro) August 2, 2021
The iconic arcade was originally opened in 1993, a little over 28 years ago to the day, and functioned mainly as a gathering place for gamers and enthusiasts of the industry mostly, but also was a testing facility for new arcade game releases in the country. Nevertheless, despite its utility to local game developers, and like with many other big arcades in the country, Gigo’s main source of income was from tourism. And with almost two years of little to no tourism in the country, a restriction that still persists as we write this article(outside of the now-finished Olympics), it’s no surprise that businesses like these are struggling to keep the doors open.
This closure marks yet another huge loss for Sega in the Japanese arcade industry, as the company has sold over 85% of its entire arcade business throughout the past few years. Currently, a company called GENDA has taken over the arcade operations for most of these sites, maintaining the Sega name, but still facing the same pressures that caused Sega to sell in the first place. This paints a grim picture for the future of the industry in the country, as Akihabara, a shopping hub known for its bright lights, gaming and arcade oriented storefronts, and variety of shops that appeal to the “otaku” culture, is currently also facing dramatic changes in its general appearance, what with the pandemic shutting the doors of many arcades, never to open again.
Morihiro Shigihara, a journalist and author who also managed an FEC in Japan in the past, told AFP in an interview, “The fact that even big arcades are going out of business one after the other shows the situation’s severity.” In other words, unless something gives and the industry’s lifeblood (i.e. tourism) isn’t restored soon, this could result in further closures and a diminished influence of the arcade industry in Japan in our lifetime—and that’s a very sad thing indeed.
Thanks for reading! Here at PrimeTime Amusements, we like to keep ahead of the curve in arcade game rental and sales and pride ourselves in providing the best service in the country. If you’re looking for a game in particular, or have a few questions about the industry, feel free to give us a call at 1.800.550.0090 or to swing by at 5300 Powerline Rd. Suite 210, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33309.