Redeeming the Redemption Industry

Posted on September 09 2018

Despite the economic ups and downs of the past 25 years, redemption still remains one of the most reliable formats of arcade gaming. 

It feels like redemption has been around since the beginning of arcade gaming since it is such a staple feature of every FEC or indoor entertainment facility, but in reality it is only around 25 years old. The relatively simple process by which players are immediately rewarded for their efforts has resonated with the industry in a way that could not have been anticipated at the time. It was a stroke of genius to combine the entertainment of an amusement game with instant gratification in the form of tickets appearing in front of a player that could be later traded for a physical award - as a memento of the Operation to take home forever. Where redemption is concerned, the collecting of tickets itself is a thrill that a lot of children look foward to. Younger children, in particular, love the theatre of ticket payout and collecting bundles of them. 

There is a lot of innovation surrounding the format in both electromechanical and video games and those working in the world of amusement are convinced that it is only going to grow. A leading games manufacturer and supplier says, "It's just perfect. You've got pushers, cranes, video games as well as basic ticket redemption. There isn't a category that could be replaced in its place."

Of course, geography matters. In the UK, operators have to make the distinction between inland and coastal. Inland venues have a much stronger gaming element to the entertainment proposition, whereas the more traditional UK coastal arcades will have redemption as its foundation. Essentially redemption is all about creating a feel-good experience among players, many of whom play in family groups. 

Recent research into consumer attitudes and behavior that was commissioned by UK Trade Body BACTA showed that 67% of FEC players said they played "just for fun" and that the UK FEC sector has 14 million players. In the Middle East, redemption accounts for an estimated 50% of the amusement offerings in an FEC, some would suggest a figure as high at 65% as claimed by Justin Burke of SEGA amusement and its certainly 50% in the US and UK. 

While redemption remains popular in all the formats that it has always operated in, it is growing in areas where it has actually never been present before. Redemption is still very the basic foundational crutch of the Middle East's gaming and indoor entertainment industry, although now there is a growing interest in VR. Tech savvy millenial players tend to value VR experiences and are increasingly willing to spend money and time on such pursuits. The industry can reasonably expect to see VR based games as popular attractions in Middle East based arcades. 

Coming back to redemption ticket pay out, it will not be easy to replace the paper tickets completely, but in certain areas, repeat custom card systems are growing in popularity. Certainly when it comes to indoor amusement centers, the motivation that redemption gives players is unparalleled in any other genre, so it is still dominant within the industry with the exception of some markets where it isnt permissible. Italy is one such market. It used to have a strong redemption market, but that is no longer the case. Redemption, however, remains a KEY player in both US, UK and Middle East markets. 

  Licences continue to play a large role in making redemption a strong choice, their ability to attract players to a game is very valuable to any operation. Game manufacturers work very hard to choose the right brands and characters to use on our games. Take DC Comics and Scooby Doo, this licence was used on a Harry Levy Close Loop Pusher. This has proved to be a hit, especially with younger players. A licence like DC Comics is difficult to acquire for any game manufacturer/supplier but makes a positive impact on the market, creating a long lifespan for the game in the arcade scenario. 

Credits : Ian Donegan, Intergame Magazine