Posted on April 10th, 2013 1 comment
This is according to Law Enforcement for Crimes Related to Businesses Affecting Public Morals in 2012, part of the annual white paper released last month by the public safety department of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. It was reported upon by Game Machines, an amusement-industry publication in Japan that’s been in business since 1974.
According to the white paper, the number of businesses defined as “game centers” that have sent the correct paperwork to the government to remain in business (following the stipulations of Japan’s entertainment-related business law) was 6,181 as of December 2012. This is down 7 percent from 6,648 establishments at the end of 2011.
I think it’s fair to say that there are two kinds of “game centers” in modern-day Japan: Places by rail stations or inside large-scale supermarkets (which are often almost, if not completely populated by skill cranes, medal games and other amusements), and facilities like the lovely, eye-catching one in Yokohama pictured above that focus on traditional video games. I probably do not need to prove my case too rigorously when I claim that it’s mostly the latter kind of establishment that’s dwindling in number over there.
Looking at previous years’ Tokyo Metro Police white papers (and confirmed by the JP Wikipedia), Japan reached “peak arcade” a quarter of a century ago in 1986, when there were 26,573 registered game centers across the country. This went down to 19,540 in 1992, then 11,499 in 2002, and after that it’s been falling by a remarkably even pace — 500 arcades a year ever since. At the current pace, therefore, there will be no game centers in Japan by 2025. (I love flawed statistics.)