If you could own your own arcade, what type of games would you have in it? Would it be the latest and greatest or would it be a mix of the reliable classics? How would you attract your customers and what would your arcade look like once they stepped inside? Arcades have always been an important part of the gaming culture as players try to get their name on the leaderboards and try to win as many tickets as they could for the prizes that were on display. When I heard that developer, ArcadeXR was allowing players to bring the authentic arcade experience where anyone could design their own arcade and play the games, I had to know more. So I reached out and the Head of Marketing, Tabor Carlton was happy to talk about their latest game, Arcade Legend, and Virtual Reality.
Interview with the Head of Marking of ArcadeXR, Tabor Carlton
Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you please introduce yourself and what you do at ArcadeXR?
“Hi! My name is Tabor Carlton, I’m the Head of Marketing for ArcadeXR. Me and my incredibly talented marketing team helped launch Arcade Legend on the Meta Quest store and we’re responsible for engaging and supporting our growing Arcade Legend community, in addition to our other arcade-focused products.”
For those that may not be aware, ArcadeXR was formed out of LAI Games, with LAI being responsible for some of the best arcade machines out there. What are LAI’s top three arcade games and can you tell us a little bit about ArcadeXR.
“LAI Games’ history in arcades goes back over 60 years, it’s a great organization that’s made some very impactful games. For people who may not be familiar with the company, LAI designs and manufactures ticket and prize redemption games, video games, mobile apps, VR experiences, and more. LAI’s most iconic game is probably the prize redemption game Stacker, and a close second would likely be Speed of Light, but personally, I would say the most impactful game to come out of LAI, which created the brand-new game category of unattended VR for arcades, is Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride.
The way ArcadeXR formed is an interesting story. When the pandemic hit a few years back, it obviously affected everyone. Of course, there were some sectors that actually thrived, but you could not have engineered a worse scenario for the location-based entertainment industry; You have a fairly transient customer base come to your location and literally touch everything in the store. Since no one could go to arcades, location owners weren’t buying arcade games. LAI took this opportunity to explore direct-to-consumer games and decided to develop something around what we knew best: arcade operations and games, and Arcade Legend was born. Then the pandemic ended, and the pent-up demand for getting out to entertainment venues exploded and things got busier much more quickly than anticipated. This left our teams spread across more projects than planned and both our traditional business and new direct-to-consumer initiatives felt the impact. In order to support both sides of the business most effectively, we decided to create a new company focused on our direct-to-consumer initiatives, Arcade Legend, and our connected reality platform Arcade Online. That company is ArcadeXR. LAI Games will continue to design and manufacture arcade games for location-based entertainment venues and ArcadeXR’s focus will be bringing arcade experiences directly to players through new digital entertainment channels.”
Growing up, what were some of your most influential gaming moments, and what was that one Virtual Reality moment that made you want to do more with VR?
“I grew up playing Atari. There were so many great titles, my favorite was probably Pitfall. I am also a huge fan of Super Mario Bros, Nintendo has always iterated on that game in such awesome ways, what a crazy concept that game is, I love it. And Zelda of course, another title that Nintendo has evolved to be absolutely epic.
My first really memorable VR experience was with our own game, Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride. The thing that made it so spectacular was the full immersion with its motion-base and wind jets, stuff common people don’t have access to outside of a location-based experience. That really made an impression on me, but I actually got really invested in VR when we started making Arcade Legend. After getting my own equipment, first an HTC Vive and then an Oculus Quest 1, I started exploring titles and became a huge fan. I even held a top 10 spot on some of the leaderboards for Pistol Whip at one point, so I guess that means I’m one of the best in the world haha. Not sure if I still hold any of those spots anymore though!”
Your newest game is not so much about being an arcade, but bringing the arcade experience home for all to play. What can you tell us about Arcade Legend?
“Arcade Legend is actually about both managing your own arcade and making the arcade experience accessible from the comfort of your own home. Not everyone has the opportunity to even get to an arcade, let alone on a regular basis. Arcades are awesome social environments and a great place to hang out in multiplayer. But there also is the arcade management aspect. People love to customize and make things their own, simulators are a popular category in VR and people have loved the idea of running their own arcade. You have to restore it to get it up and running, then you can customize the way it looks, lay your games and game mix out however you want and make it your own. We’re getting close to launching public rooms which will allow people to open their arcades to the world, which will add a new dimension to multiplayer.”
Is there a limitation to how you can build your arcade?
“It’s really up to how creative you can get. We’ve seen people create some awesome and unexpected layouts. We also have some wild materials to work with, and there are more than just games, there is furniture and some interactive elements like a jukebox and global leaderboard with more cosmetic content coming. There are some capacity limits, but we’re working on game optimizations and overcoming those limitations, releasing new updates regularly. This has allowed people to keep filling their arcades to max capacity. The floor plan is also fixed as well, but there are secret areas yet to be revealed and people have the freedom to get really creative with how they lay out their venue.”
What type of games can players expect to be able to play and are there plans to bring future content into the game?
“The core game experience has 10 games from LAI, and we’ve just brought out our first 3rd party DLC, featuring 3 new games from Bay Tek Entertainment. On June 8, 2023, we’re bringing the most iconic arcade game of all time to Arcade Legend, Skee-Ball! There are 3 models of Skee-Ball players can add to their arcade, but that’s not all, we also have a super-size attraction called Skee-Ball Ultra. It’s a Skee-Ball lane that sits on top of a bowling lane and played with bowling balls. It’s one-of-a-kind. We are also bringing out a second Bay Tek pack later this year, and working on agreements with other arcade game manufacturers to bring even more games in.”
I have to ask, will there be Air Hockey tables?
“Ah, Air Hockey – this is a highly requested game by our community, and not without reason. We would like to see it in the game at some point, but we have many other developments in the works first.”
Players can also win tickets for the games that they play. What kind of prizes can be redeemed and will each player have a prize case to display their prizes in?
“We have a whole range of prizes in store, from cosmetic items like shirts, hats, and sunglasses to bowling balls and even music tracks for your jukebox! We’ve intentionally created the prize store to be big so that we can grow into it, and we’ve got some amazing prizes planned down the track. There will be display walls so people can show off achievements, and we plan on interactive toys as well, but that doesn’t have an official launch date on our roadmap yet. In the future, we plan on having most DLC feature prize store content as part of the pack.”
Having online play sounds like a lot of fun. How many people can play at the same time and what can you tell us about the leaderboards?
“Currently, you can invite up to 3 other people to your arcade, allowing 4 people total in a multiplayer session. The leaderboards are a great feature whether you’re playing solo or multiplayer, they’ve been a huge hit and the competition has been fierce!”
Did you find any challenges trying to bring any of the different games into VR?
“Not being involved in the actual programming of the game I can only say so much, but I know that each game presents its own challenges. That said, Arcade Legend has received some high praise about how realistic the physics are, and something people might find interesting is that many of the same people who worked on designing and building the physical, electro-mechanical games also worked on their VR counterparts. I’m proud to work alongside some insanely talented people who have helped bring a truly authentic arcade experience to life.”
VR is about immersion. How fun was it bringing some of the classic sounds into the game?
“This is the best part, bringing real-world games into VR, where you can augment gameplay in ways that extend the real-world experience. A great example of this is in HYPERshoot when you’re on a hot streak, the announcer says “The ring’s on fire!” and the basketballs actually burst into flames, so you’re shooting fireballs (as long as you’re on a hot streak that is!). We’ve looked at ways of augmenting as many games as we can with additional effects, adding an extra spark of excitement in VR. Playing officially licensed games is impactful, having them augmented with additional effects is what VR is all about.”
The game has been released on the Quest platform and coming soon to Steam VR. Are there plans to bring the game to other platforms such as PlayStation VR/2 and/or Viveport in the future?
“We do have plans to bring Arcade Legend to other platforms but no specific date, unfortunately. Right now we’re just working on creating a really full-featured rewarding experience, but we’re extremely excited to be able to cross that bridge later.”
If you walk through the door into THE VR DIMENSION but could pick anyone from any time to play a game in your arcade. Who would it be and why, and what game would play?
“I’d challenge Albert Einstein to a game of Speed of Light. He might have revolutionized our understanding of space and time, but I think I could show him what the speed of light is really all about!”
With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to grow, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Arcade Legend?
“Arcades are fun no matter what age you are, with games geared around social, competitive play, a perfect combination for VR! Arcade Legend blends creativity, skill, and wonder, and officially licensed games that you can experience in the real world takes things to another level, it’s impactful. We hope you give it a try!”
I really want to thank Tabor for taking the time to give us a closer look into Arcade Legend and Virtual Reality.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.