The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of daily life in the US. My family and I are practicing social distancing to help “flatten the curve,” and I hope you are too.
Like every other industry, the arcade industry is facing massive disruption due to the pandemic. To pass the time while we all #stayhome, I thought it would be interesting to dive into how several major national arcade companies are responding to the pandemic on social media.
Dave & Busters
D&B is one of my personal favorite arcades, in part because there are 4 locations in the Houston area, where I live. With 136 Dave & Busters spread across the country, chances are there’s one near you too.
In a statement posted on the Dave & Busters website, CEO Brian Jenkins announced that all 136 locations were closing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. https://www.daveandbusters.com/dave-and-busters-coronavirus-covid-19-protocols-response
Dave & Busters is popular with serious gamers and the general public, and the closure of its locations is a sad, but necessary, step. Of course, the closures are much harder on D&B employees, many of whom are presumably hourly workers.
Since the announcement was posted, there have been zero tweets and zero Instagram posts from Dave & Busters. Hopefully, D&B will come up with a creative way to use social media to engage the arcade-loving, social-distancing public soon!
Like D&B, Round 1 has taken major steps to help halt the spread of COVID-19. Rather than initially announcing a blanket closure, Round 1 keeps a running list of individual locations that it has closed on its website. At this writing, it appears that Round 1 has closed all 41 of its locations. https://www.round1usa.com/updates-on-covid-19/
Round 1 also hasn’t made any social media posts since it announced the closures. Again, this seems like a missed opportunity to keep customers engaged with the brand, and we can only hope that Round 1 will turn the ship around and get some at-home arcade content out there soon!
Following the industry trend, Main Event has also closed all of its 42 locations. But unlike its competitors, Main Event has leveraged social media to keep its arcades at the forefront of gamers’ minds.
First, Main Event is solidifying its reputation as a birthday party hotspot by hosting virtual birthday celebrations. With the help of celebrity guests, Main Event is giving birthday shout-outs to customers who request them on Instagram Live and Twitter.
Second, Main Event is hosting a quiz on Twitter asking its social media audience to answer trivia questions about Main Event, called “Let’s Get Quizzical.” Winners can receive cards for freeplay at Main Event once the arcades reopen.
While a much smaller operation with only seven arcades, GameWorks has fallen in line with the big boys and closed all its locations. And like Main Event, GameWorks has seized this opportunity to stay relevant to social media audiences.
In addition to arcades, GameWorks also offers e-sports lounges in its physical locations where. GameWorks has taken these e-sports lounges to the Internet, promoting its Quick Hits online gaming series through Instagram and Twitter. While GameWorks was especially well-positioned for this given its e-sports business, it has far outshone its rival arcades when it comes to keeping gamers plugged in while physical locations are shut down.
We can only hope that the COVID-19 crisis will end soon, so we can all safely return to our lives, and to our favorite arcades. In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye out for any new content or promotions from these arcades and others, so we can all scratch that arcade itch!