By Alison Levin

Tourist Attractions & Parks

When it comes to video arcades, are tokens and coins becoming outdated? While smaller arcades still require tokens to run their machines, the trend in larger arcades is to go cashless. With over 15 years of experience in the gaming and arcade industry, David Goldfarb, owner of PrimeTime Amusements, South Florida’s premier outlet for video arcade game entertainment sales, rentals and arcade distribution, knows what is hot in the industry and he agreed that cashing in on success means cashing out of the tokens.

In a joint venture with Sacoa, the developer of the PlayCard system, PrimeTime Amusements recently set up hundreds of state-of-the-art video arcade games at three McDonald’s restaurants in Orlando, Fla., one of which is the world’s largest McDonald’s restaurant. PlayCard is a debit-card system that can be used to play arcade games and may be replenished as often as possible. The McDonald’s arcade set-up took place in June 2008 and immediately began to reap the benefits of the card system.

Goldfarb provided some background on the McDonald’s project: “There is a McDonald’s franchisee in Orlando who owns 20 restaurants. Some of his restaurants are a little more unique than others. For example, they serve gourmet pizza and turkey sandwiches in the McCafe and, because the store is so unusual, they also allow video games.” It is in three of these unique stores that Goldfarb and his team set up the arcades with the PlayCard compatibility.

These McDonald’s restaurants were in the process of setting up an arcade system when they decided to bring in someone with extensive experience using a card system, such as PlayCard. PrimeTime Amusements was then brought in to take over the project, which was completed this past summer. “We came in and installed the Sacoa PlayCard system. This card system works at all three McDonald’s restaurants, so the customer can use the same card at all three sites.” PrimeTime Amusements and Sacoa first began working together in 2001 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in South Florida, so it was natural for them to work together on the McDonald’s project.

According to Goldfarb, PrimeTime Amusements works in conjunction with Sacoa on every big arcade set-up that they do. “If there are over 25 machines in the arcade, it just makes sense to go with the card system. Tokens tend to jam; machines can ‘steal’ your money. The card system is neat, it’s easy, and it really makes the arcade more profitable,” said Goldfarb. “It’s like using a credit card – people just lose track of how much they are spending and end up spending more than they intended. This is a great tool for profit and the customers appreciate the ease-of-use.”

The arcades are quite successful in conjunction with the McDonald’s restaurants. Ever since the set-up was completed, the stores have seen an increased income of 80 percent. “We’ve installed the best of the best as far as games go. Truly the cream of the crop,” said Goldfarb. The world’s largest McDonald’s, which is spread out over two floors, has over 100 of the latest and best video arcade games and a redemption counter. There are also five self-service kiosks in the arcade to sell and recharge the PlayCards. One of the other restaurants, which is located right near Universal Studios Theme Park, has 30 video games and the third smaller restaurant has 14 games. “We would not normally do a PlayCard set-up in an arcade this small, but this third restaurant is so close in proximity to the other two that it did make sense to do it this time around, since the card is compatible at all three sites,” Goldfarb said.

Pol Mochkovsky, owner of Sacoa, said that the McDonald’s arcades have been as successful as they are due to the high traffic of vacationing families in the Orlando area. “McDonald’s is a low-budget alternative that attracts large families, so the arcades receive a tremendous amount of traffic all year round. I doubt there are many other cases like this throughout the United States,” Mochkovsky said.

“Another reason for the success that we are finding with these arcades is that we really try to be different with the game selection. We do not have the same types of games that you can find in the home – there are no standard video games. We stick with interactive games and 65 percent of the games are redemption-oriented,” Goldfarb said. The redemption games are a big draw because people love to take home a prize and feel like they earned something from their experience.

These redemption games and interactive games are the latest trends in the arcade industry right now. “Arcades with basic video games have lost some of their appeal in recent years, due to the penetration of home video consoles like PlayStation, Xbox and the Nintendo Wii,” Mochkovsky said. By sticking with interactive games or video simulators, customers are offered an experience unlike something they can get at home. “You actually can employ some skill when playing these games, such as interactive boxing or soccer,” said Goldfarb. “Basic video games are becoming obsolete. The survival of your business depends on your keeping up with the latest trends. Right now those are the interactive and redemption-oriented games,” continued Goldfarb.

With a cashless system, suddenly a customer can play games all day without feeling as if they are constantly spending money. No worries about lost tokens or that feeling of reaching into your wallet yet again. By loading up a PlayCard with money, it is easier for the customer to concentrate on playing and that much more profitable for the arcades. The McDonald’s Orlando arcades have more than doubled their profits in just a few short months and the sales show no signs of slowing down. By eliminating cash and tokens and keeping up with the latest trends, as far as interactive games and redemption-oriented machines, arcade owners will continue to feel as though they have hit the jackpot.