LAI Games recently announced Arcade Legend, an arcade simulator/management RPG hitting Steam later this year.
This marks the first time the arcade game developer—known for Stacker, Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride, and Outnumbered—has dabbled in at-home virtual reality. Arcade Legend can be seen as LAI’s stop-gap reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shuttering many arcades—much like Abs Vs. the Blood Queen from BumbleBear Games—but LAI Marketing Director Tabor Carlton clarified pivoting to home VR is not the company’s long-term goal.
“Obviously, nobody was buying games, so it was a case of having to figure out how we stayed sustainable through COVID,” he said. “There were companies who weren't going to make it through this. It was a tough time for the entire industry. We put our heads together to think of ideas, and Shannon Perell, our VP of Product Development brought the initiative to the table and has ultimately led his team to bring it to fruition. It was a great outcome. The development team learned a whole new set of skills, and we've got an exciting product that people will be able to play for the first time at Next Fest in June 2021."
The game will task players with operating their very own arcade, adding new games and fine-tuning the layout based on in-game earnings data. Players will accrue “reputation” to continue outfitting and upgrading their space. The simulation element will allow players to play any machine they purchase and invite friends to join in on the fun.
“It’s not just playing our games in VR,” Carlton said. “We’ve recreated this arcade management feature. Part of the game is managing an arcade and building it, customizing it, making it look the way that you want. It attracts customers, and the games accrue revenue, which allows you to do things like upgrade components within the arcade.”
Arcade Legend will feature meticulous recreations of real LAI arcade games, barring some fictional enhancements. For instance, when player accrues a shooting streak on the virtual Hypershoot, the announcer won't just say, "The ring's on fire," but the hoop and ball will burst into flames, too, with sparks flying off the rim of the basket.
“The really cool thing about Arcade Legend is that a lot of the people who worked on the original, real-world games—like Hypershoot, Speed of Light, and Let’s Bounce—are the same people who built the VR versions as well,” Carlton said. “They’re accurate recreations of our games in virtual reality, and the additional augmentation inside VR makes them even more exciting.”
Carlton says licensing games from other companies is possible but not set in stone.
“Our goal in working with other manufacturers is to get officially licensed products,” Carlton said. “There are other arcade simulators out there that have knock-off products of real games, and they’re generally poor recreations. We can't name names yet, but we're working with another manufacturer to bring one of the most iconic arcade games of all time to Arcade Legend in the near future. We’re also going to be making some our own games that are a homage to things like shuffleboard, air hockey, and other physical games, which are really rewarding in VR."
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See ya ‘round, ya sweaty nerds.