Arcade Game Manufacturers Respond to COVID-19

March 23, 2020

The coronavirus is a nasty thing that has more or less stopped the entire world in its tracks. That’s why it should come as no surprise that a handful of major players in the arcade industry have found it necessary to make changes during the outbreak.

            Because of the ever-evolving nature of the COVID-19 spread, I took it upon myself to compile arcade game manufacturers’ responses to the virus, to the best of my ability, for your reading convenience. Hopefully, what I’ve written will help centralize as much information as possible during this coo-coo-bananas-crazy time.

            I also responded to the coronavirus myself—because that’s just how things go in the year 2020. You can read the official statement at this link.

Bandai Namco Amusement

Bandai Namco responded to the coronavirus situation through social media on March 20 to explain how their company would operate until concern passed.

            “Our team at Bandai Namco Amusement America hopes that you are staying safe during this difficult time,” the statement reads. “While the majority of our crew is working from home, we have a skeleton crew in the office and warehouse so we can do our best to take care of your parts and service needs.”

            For now, you’ll still be able to get help from Bandai Namco when you’ll need it, but the company is taking action to ensure the safety of employees.

BumbleBear Games

BumbleBear Games responded to the coronavirus situation through social media on March 20 in a more anticipatory sense.

            “We are the continuing to monitor travel restrictions and event cancellations and how it will impact Bumble Bash 5,” the statement reads. “We applaud our national communities for making the difficult but ultimately correct choice to cancel or delay their own events and tournaments.”

            BumbleBear explains that details regarding the tournament could change as the COVID-19 situation develops. “Our anticipated date range for BumbleBash 5 is still over six months away, but we cannot in good conscience commit to a definitive date while there is still so much uncertainty.

            “Until we can ensure the safety of our community, we will delay any announcements concerning the date for BumbleBash 5,” the statement concludes.

            From what I understand, this means that, while the event itself has not yet been cancelled or delay, BumbleBear will not settle on nor announce a concrete date until they feel comfortable with the status of the virus. That way, I presume, the company won’t have to cancel in half a year if the disease is still rampant.

LAI Games

LAI Games responded to the coronavirus situation through a special edition version of their “Insider” email communications by explaining how the company will ensure the safety of its employees during the pandemic.

            “Like the rest of the world, LAI Games is keeping a close eye on developments related to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the statement begins. “Our top concern is health and welfare of our staff, partners and customers, and LAI Games global offices are taking precautionary measures as recommended by the authorities in their local regions.”

            As such, LAI has taken various measures to quell the spread of COVID-19. “As of March 17, we have moved to a remote workforce with a limited number of staff members working in the office, and have restricted all business travel. The Sales, Support and Parts departments are fully operational. … We ask that customers do not visit our offices but conduct business with us remotely instead.”

            The company notes that things could change at any time. “This is a fluid situation, and we will adapt to new guidelines as needed. We will notify our customers of any future changes to our operations as soon as possible.”

            For the time being, it seems that LAI has found a way to stay operational without compromising the health of its workforce, which is certainly a good thing. I’ll make sure to update this section if anything else comes up.

Raw Thrills

Raw Thrills responded to the coronavirus situation through a press release on March 20 intended primarily for CoinUp customers but relevant to Raw Thrills’ operations as a whole.

            “As the company that manages Big Buck HD, CoinUp and your CoinUp account, we want to assure you that we take the health and well-being of our customers very seriously. Like you, we’re closely monitoring the quickly developing effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” the statement begins.

            “We realize that many bars, restaurants and game rooms that may have a Big Buck HD machine are being required to close,” the statement continues. “Since your business may be directly affected by these circumstances, we will be waiving the Big Buck HD monthly service fee and software upgrade fee beginning 3/16/2020 and continuing through the end of March. This credit will automatically be applied to your next CoinUp bill. There is no need to take any further action on your part.

            “We will evaluate the situation again in the month of April and determine a best course of action based on the current state of business. This fee waiver will apply to all games in the U.S., Canada and Australia,” the statement concludes.

            As someone who’s had his own business shut down indefinitely by the Kentucky governor, I truly appreciate what Raw Thrills is doing to support operators during this time. I’ll keep a watchful eye on my e-mail inbox for any updates going forward.

Stern Pinball

Stern Pinball responded to the coronavirus situation through social media on March 20 by cancelling the product reveal that had been scheduled for that day.

            “Unfortunately, due to current events, we have been forced to postpone our planned 03/20/20 product reveal,” the statement reads.

“Taking into account the wellbeing of our employees and partners, coupled with supply chain issues, we felt it best to delay.”

            There is currently uncertainty as to when the event will occur. “We do no know exactly when it will be possible to resume the roll out but will be sharing additional information in the coming weeks,” the statement continues.

            “We appreciate your support and look forward to rescheduling an announcement and ship date very soon. Stay safe, look out for your neighbours, and play pinball!”

            Although the company didn’t explicitly mention COVID-19, concerns over the wellbeing of employees and supply chain issues point to the disease.

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