Scott Bachrach builds and sells time machines.
Honestly, they’re really 3/4 scale arcade machines, but time travel – at least for the length of time to take down Sagat as Guile Street Fighter II – is what he’s actually selling.
“I remember being 13 years old,” Bachrach, 52, told Digital Trends. “It was early 81. I live in Southern California. Skateboarding athlete. Long hair. The whole incident. We used to go to the Westwood arcades on a Friday night, hanging out with friends and playing video games. We had fun with the games, but it’s more than that. It’s great music from that era. It was a wonderful time. It was simpler, right? People use those words quite loosely. But I really believe what we really do is we bring back memories.”
Bachrach, who traded his skateboarding teenager vibe for a license in the 1990s, is today the head of Tastemakers. Tastemakers is the parent company of Arcade1Up, a business that creates miniature, 4-foot-tall replica coin arcs of all your favorite arcade classics. Space Invaders. Peach Dug. dragon’s lair. Pac-Man. The last battle. NBA Jam. Golden Ax. Mortal Kombat. The list goes on.
Each Arcade1Up game unit features authentic controls, front and side visuals, and, unlike the original arcade machines, multiple games per unit. The Mortal Kombat II units, for example, also include the original of 1992 Mortal Kombat and 1995 Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.
While they’ll cost you more than a quarter to play, the price – ranging from $299 to $499 – is about 10 times less than what you’d pay to pick up an original arcade unit. And, at under 60 pounds, the floor is a lot lighter, too.
“This started out as a passionate project,” says Bachrach. “I remember looking at my team and saying, ‘That’s a great product’ [when I saw] first samples. We said like, ‘if we sell 10,000, this is unbelievable.’ “
Today, sales have blown early estimates. According to Bachrach, a staggering 2 million units have been sold since the company’s first products, Rampage, Small planet, centipede, Galagaand Street Fighter II, launched in August 2018. During some months of the pandemic, with people stuck at home contemplating better times when we happily shared joysticks with complete people. strange, sales average increase of 96% week over week. “It’s amazing to see how many of our fans are starting to build their own video game rooms,” he said. “And they do it at a pace they feel comfortable with. Essentially, they are recreating their childhood dream. “
Of course, reselling the scraps of a bygone childhood to mostly middle-aged fans with disposable income is not a business model invented by Tastemakers. Nor is it dusting off classic games for another shot at the big time. Trendy bar chain Barcade has been successfully serving classic coin games and craft beer to teen gamers just starting to seed (or at least to 9 to 5 corporate jobs) since 2004. There’s also no shortage of older arcade games available for download. But not everyone does everything with the same level of quality.
Bachrach says that, in 2016 when the idea was first discussed internally, someone mentioned another company that was making a plug-and-play arcade box for TVs. The $100 console contains a wide range of arcade classics ranging from Pac-Man come Small planet. “I remember going to an Urban Outfitters store and buying one of these products,” Bachrach recalls. “I spent a hundred dollars, and I brought it home and I plugged it in. My son, 16, and I played it for five minutes – and we both looked at each other and said, ‘That’s lame. ‘”
The next day, he walked into the office and found a member of the product development team who had been particularly enthusiastic about the idea. “I don’t understand what happened,” Bachrach told him. “I had great memories of those games, but this was horrible.” His colleague told him, “You know why, don’t you? That’s because you’re not using a real ROM”. Bachrach recalls looking at his colleague “as if he had four heads”. He doesn’t know what the heck a ROM is.
His colleague suggested they go down the street and visit a local pizza restaurant, where there was a Mrs. Pac-Man installed coin-op. Bachrach shows up in a quarter and, suddenly, finds himself transported back to his misguided youth. A light flashed in his head. If the team can capture that experience, but produce it in an affordable way, then they can really achieve something, he thinks. “It’s a mission statement,” he said.
An authentic experience
While experts will spot the difference between the genuine article and Arcade1Up’s version (the old, heavy CRT monitor has been converted to LCD), every effort has been made to ensure honest experience. For better or for worse, you’ll feel successful as you’re transported back to the golden age of dimly lit, sticky-floored domes at the end of cheaper shopping malls where you’ll beat Rampage will be coolly judged by sassy older teens waiting for their turn.
Of course, there have been mistakes along the way. The newer devices are sturdier than the first and have been keen to listen to fan feedback as they handle small details like the precise feel of the joysticks. Bachrach said an early fault was that the ship could not be built with a protective glass deck coating. “We don’t know that if you’re an aggressive person Street fighter player or Mortal Kombat and you’ll be playing this for a few hours a day, the natural oils on your hands will start to remove the paint,” he said. “It passed all of our testing protocols [and we didn’t foresee this being a problem]. It’s been a learning curve for us. “
Perhaps the smartest thing about Arcade1Up is that it ultimately solves the big problem that originally plagued video games. By providing you with an accessible, affordable way to own and play one of these at home, coins are no longer locked up so tight in *ahem* life-and-death battles with dashboards. control at home.
Consoles were the biggest reason for the decline of the original arcade boom, which lasted from the 1970s to the first half of the 1990s. In 1980, the video game industry grossed 2, $8 billion in revenue, almost all of it in coins. But by 1994, spending between home consoles and coins had become more difficult. Not long after that, the era of 32-bit gaming, most notably the Sony PlayStation, arrived, and writing was on the wall. Why would you go to a crappy video game to spend a quarter of a minute gaming when you can sit on the couch at home and get a completely different experience for a fixed price?
By giving you a dose of nostalgia, a piece of dialogue for your living room and not requiring you to leave you to go to the mall ( what?!), Arcade1Up has managed to update the arcade experience for the 2020s. Some of the company’s games, like NBA Jam, even offering online play, which was nearly impossible in 1993.
So what’s in store for 2021? At E3, where Arcade1Up was Featured on Digital Trends’ Best Technology list, the company announced the 30th anniversary edition of Konami’s classic The Simpsons game, a 1991 side-scrolling brawl in which the player can take the role of Homer, Marge, Bart, or Lisa as they cross Springfield to rescue kidnapped Maggie. Bachrach calls it “one of the best arcade machines ever made”.
There is also a “Big Blue” Street Fighter II arcade, not only contains game changer Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition, but a variety of updates including (but not limited to) Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. “If you are Street fighter fans, ‘Big Blue’ is your machine, right? ‘ said Bachrach.
Then there are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time and – somewhat revealing – a Mrs. Pac-Man / Galaga unit called “Class of ’81 Arcade Machine.” (Bachrach swears this isn’t a reference to his 13-year-old arcade golden age, but who can blame him if he is?)
But perhaps the hottest new product is Arcade1Up’s Infinity Gaming Table, a digital gaming console that includes Hasbro’s Monopoly, sporadic, Mediocre pursuit, Troughs and Ladders, card games, and more. “For me, it’s one of the most exciting new products we’re introducing [because it’s for a] Bachrach said.
He’s not joking. While the Infinity Game Table may not mine the nostalgia crate in quite the same way, Mortal Kombat II it builds on the same DNA that has made the company’s other products so successful: a combination of quality craftsmanship and renowned titles. The difference, as the Arcade1Up boss notes, is that this is likely to have more global appeal – beyond its core audience of 30 to 50 years old, who currently make up the majority of its audience, and become a fare for families of all ages. .
Having grown from a few prototype units to sales of 2 million people and a staff of eight to more than 80 in just a few years, Arcade1Up is soaring. Whether its trajectory continues, or explodes like the classic arcs on which it is based, remains to be seen. For now, though, it’s a company that seems to be making all the right moves. Insert coins to play, really!