Why arcade centre was once packed with people but now barely seeing it

TLDR: although all arcade cabinets are fully functional, most machines either lack unique ways to play, game difficulty disproportional to payouts or simply lack incentives, leading to rapid active players decrease after the release of the arcade.

me as a streamer, call me that my vids don’t explain anything, but i can barely create in-depth content out of the same cabinet.

The Warpzone Arcade, one of the most anticipated plaza areas. where you play the realistic arcade cabinets and earn tickets to redeem prizes as gadgets or condo items.

at its initial release, TU’s number of online players reached an all-time-high (1’551) that nagged the developers to deploy multiple new servers to cope with. every game inside was packed with players, barely seen them in other areas.

probably less than a month later, its peak was halved. not sure if i was always in the EU servers affecting my observation, what i saw was that only 2~3 servers would have the arcade centres packed with people.

when arcade phase 2 (August 2021) was released, the peak was 1’039 and that didn’t sustain that long. in terms of the monthly average, it’s even worse - only 10% gain from July to August 2021 compared to 1.81x gain from March to April 2020.

i may have been excessively focused on the arcade that affected the online players of TU, but i say that Arcade phase 1 was the biggest boost ever.

but why the arcade didn’t go well? after explaining the overall problem, i will explain the most problematic cabinets under my observation.

The following section is based on impressions on the current arcade phase.
the overall experience in the arcade

let’s start with when you first entered the Warpzone arcade. no doubt that you have to buy tokens with units. the price per token is highly reasonable, which i won’t have much comment with.

the interior design is excellent and is like in a luxury lounge, which should be attracting players to stay.

general speaking, criticising its impression is bullshit because it doesn’t disappoint at all.

now assuming you start to play the arcade. well, it’s good i guess? play games, earn tickets. oh, the game seems challenging to me! let’s keep up playing!

instantly, the problem comes up.

if you are efficiency-oriented, you will realise that only higher payout games such as super hoopers and avalanche will favour you.

if you like endurance challenges, you will realise that only planetary piano, salmon says or stack’em will favour you.

if you like accuracy, it mostly isn’t a barrier.

if you wanna test your luck, wheel of fire and colorado are the best.

these types of people except for accuracy or casual would most likely play the specific games. and mostly, people won’t play much in the arcade as most likely will it be the same experience. if those groups of people begin to feel those games are boring, but other games don’t meet their favour, it will easily end up an unwillingness to stay in the arcade.

in the following section, i will mark the cabinets with the numbers, and these numbers represent the following problem:

  1. lack of means to play !!! - let’s say i want to play a skill-based cabinet, and then i realise that you are going to play the same game in the same way again and again. at the max, you are going to challenge how far you can go or how many continuous perfects you can get in the same game. if you are a casual player, you will easily feel like you are working rather than enjoying. these games aren’t properly maximised in their potential.
  2. disproportional relative or overall ticket payouts - you can easily gain a lot of tickets within a single game, or you might have to spend relatively hundreds of tokens just to earn a 4-figure amount of tickets.
  3. lack of challenge - except for obviously luck-based ones, these games don’t pose challenges they are supposed to have.

i will explain the cabinets one by one, ones that i believe must be fixed as soon as possible come first.

Newton’s Apples - 1/2
although to the skilful players, hitting 50 balls at once isn’t a big deal, you have to be completely flawless just for that 250-ticket prize. failing so? sorry man, you won’t get more than 100 tickets. you don’t get anything at all if you can’t hit at least 20 balls out of 50. in terms of the maximum payout alone (let alone seeing it disproportional) is already driving most of the people away (and that is why this cabinet is more critical than all others despite falling under 2 points). even whack-a-mole, meteoroid mania, sunlight roller, etc. will get you more tickets than this on average.

the time limit for this game is around 30~35 seconds, and only about 60% of the time the bin will arrive for you to drop the balls, meaning you must go 3 CPS or above whenever the bin arrives to hopefully get it perfect. indeed, that is the part of the challenge so that is a good thing.

to efficient or endurance players, this game is avoided like a plague. for high-paced and casual players, it’s hard for them to finish it without flaws.

how should it be changed?

it should be given various difficulties. for example,

  1. endurance mode (endurance): hitting at least 45 balls out of 50 to win 250 tickets and playing it again for more tickets until you miss too many balls.
  2. hard mode (endurance, challenge): you must go flawless in order to receive any payouts if at all. if you pass it, you can stake your ticket and play again for even more. any misses forfeits all tickets you won.
  3. casual mode (casual): plays like the same way, but you get as much as 500+ tickets if you can finish it 90%+.

i already have asked this to be buffed multiple times, and it got ignored again and again.

dizzy - 1/2/3
this game costs 10 tokens to play, you will have to earn 200 tickets if you will sell it back to units, or 100 tickets for nominal value. like Newton’s apples, you have to be completely flawless to earn enough.

if you fail to hit the jackpot, you earn up to 10 tickets. far away from it? none.

the jackpot increment is literally 6. meaning you have to play and fail 10 times to increase the jackpot by 60+ tickets. in comparison, every puck you successfully pulled increases the jackpot by 50 tickets in the ultimate cow wheel. with gears of coin, if you don’t hit the jackpot, its effective increment is 27 per complete game at 5 tokens.

other than being accurate, it doesn’t have additional challenges. once you have hit the stop, the game ends. no more, no less. but it costs you 10 tokens.

obviously, efficient players won’t bother this, and it lacks endurance either. however, perfect for high-paced players, and suitable for players aiming for accuracy.

how should it be changed?

(high-paced, accuracy)

  1. jackpot increment should be 20+.
  2. base jackpot should be around 150 tickets.

Lonely Gun 30XX - 1/2
although ideal for accuracy-oriented players, it feels like the game will always pay you tickets between 90~120 tickets unless you failed despite using all ammunitions.

like super hoopers, the movement per game is almost the same. if you can memorise the target movement and get it accurately, you will find it too freebie to play and boring later on.

the same goes for the two above, not anywhere ideal to players oriented at either efficiency or endurance. possibly ideal for players oriented at casual, high-paced accuracy.

how should this game be changed?

it should give various modes in the first place.

  1. original mode (accuracy, casual): try to finish all the rounds as soon as possible for higher ticket payouts.
  2. endless mode (endurance): the more targets you hit, the more tickets. the game ends upon consecutive misses.
  3. hard mode (accuracy, challenge): like original mode, missing any targets, then the game is over.
  4. sprint mode (high-paced, efficiency, challenge): no ammunition limits, hit as many targets as possible at the given time.

Sunlight Roller - 2/3
out of 8 tokens, you can gain 345 tickets at the max. like newton’s apples, you have to be highly accurate
to win it. indeed this is a part of the challenge, so it’s good and no need to change.

in terms of payouts, it’s when pigs fly to have all coins hitting the 50-ticket hole because that only arrives once per 3~4-second interval. at best during this interval, 15 tickets.

in comparison to super hoopers, if you can easily surpass 12 hits (60 points) within 30 seconds, it’s not hard to hit another 4 (20 points) and gain at least 330 tickets. to bug bytes, even if you have certain flaws, if you have a decent speed, it’s not hard to go at least 300 points thus 300+ tickets.

efficiency-oriented players won’t play this much either, possibly ideal to endurance-oriented or luck, better for the accuracy or casual.

how should this game be reworked?

(partial luck, accuracy)
that bonus hole should be buffed from 50 tickets to at least 100. for some reason, a secondary wheel can be implemented that you get jackpot if you hit that hole again.

Super Hoopers - 1/2 (3)
although this is my favourite that i wanted it to keep its status, i feel like this made me reluctant to play others more often.

within 45 seconds, you have to hit as many balls are thrown as possible. hitting at least 6 times grants you another 5 seconds (that 5 seconds is when the basket stops at the far-left).

a single hit (the difference between 55 and 60 points) ends up contrasting payouts. if you can hit 30+ with ease, 1k+ ticket payout for every play is guaranteed. 55 points or below, you will find it unappealing.

if you are skilful enough, you will realise that the pattern of that basket movement is exactly the same. memorise it, set the charging angle based on your character height, big bonus is yours.

because of its high potential payout nature, it’s like a magnet towards players oriented at efficiency and accuracy.

to be very honest, i agree that this game is extremely overpowered reaching the bonus that needs to be nerfed. meanwhile, the base payout is devastatingly low that should be buffed.

how should this game be reworked?

it should offer various modes as well.

  1. original mode (casual, efficiency): on the first 11 hits, you should be getting 20 tickets for every hit instead of 5, and thereafter 40~50 tickets (5~15 ticket decrease per bonus hit).
  2. hard mode (challenge, endurance): the movement of that basket is more random, and the game time is shortened. you must hit no fewer than the given goal in order to gain tickets and advance. payouts increased.
  3. endurance mode (challenge, endurance): ticket payout is fixed at 30 per hit. like hard mode, the movement of the basket is randomised but slower, will keep moving until the game ends. once the time goes below 15 seconds, for every 3 hits, game time is extended by 2 seconds.
  4. multiplayer versus mode (multiplayer): challenge among other players in the original mode, and gain tickets based on the scores across all players involved.
  5. multiplayer collaboration mode on hard or endurance (challenge, multipayer, endurance, efficiency): players involved will have to work together and finish the objectives. scores are combined.

Little Birde Feeders - 1/3 (2)
i think this game is kinda decent in terms of payout, so i don’t think it needs to be significantly changed here.

however, the same goes for avalanche, super hoopers and newton’s apples, etc… in this game, just memorise the charging position and the timing, it’s hard to even miss any 500-point hole. however, not sure if that still exists, but you only get 500 tickets if you go above 2500 points, but 600 being exactly 2500 (5x500).

if you can complete the game in 10 seconds and most of the time you win the bonus, this game will be as efficient as super hoopers ignoring the token cost. but it might disappoint accuracy-based players because it lacks the need of accuracy when you throw (you don’t even need to memorise the pattern of movement). for endurance? well, fuck it, it needs up to 30 seconds to complete.

how should this game be reworked?
  1. original mode: no change.
  2. accuracy mode (accuracy, endurance): like the recent change for tornado cabinet, your objective will be throwing the ball into random specific holes for better payouts and a longer time(indicated in blinking light).
  3. set mode (challenge): there are multiple sets of holes to throw to. receive a bonus if you successfully hit all the different holes mentioned in that set.

Mas Fuerte 2K - 3
needless to say, smash a lot of buttons on the keyboard or mouse as fast as you can while keeping your cursor at the targeted spot.

it’s not really hard to achieve the top score. as a result, according to the weekly leaderboard, out of the top 200, everyone has the same score as 1200.

other than smashing the keyboard, do you know how to even play this game well? mostly will favour casual players but not others.

how should this game be reworked?

a mechanic similar to tornado is better than this. or, once you are ready, try to get the cursor to stay in the circle.

Whack a Mole - 2
this game is meant to be as simple as for kids, so quantifying the means to play this game is likely nonsense, it would be awesome if it could, however.

it’s simple. get around 4 tickets (and 2 as a bonus without misses) per mole hit. in terms of payouts, literally like sunlight roller, meteoroid mania, etc. up to 300 (???) without any flaws. literally on the left of these cabinets, bug bytes, you can simply earn 15 tickets for every correct hit. you can even play with another player for combined payouts, easily getting you at least 300~400 tickets regardless (if you can hit 20+ correctly). the only good thing is the satisfying moment when you hit those moles.

at least won’t be worse than newton’s apples because you are very unlikely to get nothing so long as you hit a few moles or above.

how should this game be reworked?

every correct hit should give you 15 tickets like bug bytes, loses you 4 tickets for every wrong hit.

  1. original mode: no further changes.
  2. time-tug (endurance): when the time remaining reaches 10, every 2~3 correct hits extend your timer by 1 second. lose 1 second for every wrong hit (cat).
  3. sudden-death (accuracy): increased payout. The game is aborted at any wrong hit.
  4. fast mode (accuracy, efficiency, high-paced): like the original mode, the speed of targets’ (dis)appearance is doubled.

Meteoroid Mania - 2
due to its high-paced and luck-based nature, i believe there is no need to change it too much.
for this game, you can typically gain 200~300 tickets at the max. above 300 purely depends on your luck and you have to hit the bonus wheel on all tries.

in terms of payout, it feels like sunlight roller and whack-a-mole. it’s hard to surpass 300 tickets per play. the only tradeoff is how fast this game is played.

explicitly players oriented at efficiency and endurance won’t touch this kind of game, less favourable for accuracy but more for luck (just like playing plinko).

how should this game be reworked?

token cost should be changed to 8 rather than 10.

  1. original mode (luck, accuracy): 5 balls instead of 3 balls.
  2. pierrot mode (luck): you will be given 8 balls, the object will be hitting all 8 different columns. you lose by hitting the same column twice. you will be collecting the tickets by leaving the cabinet before the game ends. all payouts from the bonus hits are secured.

Avalanche - 2
after this game was nerfed as it was extremely common for people to surpass 1000 points and get 1k+ tickets, you would literally need to go 1.5k points if you want 1k+ tickets. according to the leaderboard, only one could do it. and, it takes 15 tokens to play since then.

in this case, if this game is meant to have higher payouts with a dire challenge, that nerf made super hoopers (often the ultimate cow wheel) a far better deal.

it needs to increase the rate of ball refill. in my experience, when i threw all 5 balls at once, i would need to wait at least 1~2 seconds to throw another ball again.

as this game lasts 25 seconds per play, it’s avoided by players oriented at endurance. it’s still favourable to efficiency (???) or high-paced players.

how should this game be reworked?

halved bonus tickets should be revoked, otherwise, the given time should be 30~35 seconds. and as said, the rate of ball refill should be increased.

  1. original mode (high-paced): no further change.
  2. endurance mode (endurance, casual(???), accuracy): every certain period, 3~4 targets are lit up. The time limit is increased hitting all these targets before it changes. however, the payout per point is decreased.
  3. fast mode (high-paced, efficiency): no longer need to wait for the ball to return before you can throw again, once all the targets in the same row are down, they instantly replenish. time shortened by 5 seconds compared to the original. how much you have scored is how many tickets gained.

Coloracle 2 - Who’s Hue? - 2
it feels like the highest payout one, pink, will never be landed on. i might have to roll out a video about the experimental probability. however, this game is meant to be simple as well (no weight on the challenge), so no variants are needed.

photo and explanation

if you look at this machine top-down, you will find that the chance of hitting pink is roughly half of blue. if that lands on pink, you get 1000 tickets, while blue is 800, yellow is 600.

how should this game be reworked?

i have explained here. in summary, winnings should be relative to the probability.

Whirl a Fish - 2
due to its potential high-paced nature, it’s reasonable that the common payout is low, and is most likely luck-based.

however, when it comes to the big bonuses, this game falls the same problem as most games mentioned above, as sunlight roller, newton’s apples, meteoroid mania, etc. that aren’t high enough. besides the jackpot, the highest single-hit prize is 100 tickets and is vaulted (in real-life arcades, yup it’s needed but 200+ tickets by hitting that is more common (???)).

how should this game be reworked?

it may seem overpowered, but…
(luck, high-paced)
you should get 3 bonus plays instead of 2 if you hit a hole that says “2 bonus plays”.
100-ticket hole should be changed to 200.

favourable to high-paced and players aiming for luck.

Stack’em - 2
it’s less awarding to reach high levels and you have to be very mindful if you want to advance to level 5. the difficulty of this challenge is high but not relatively rewarding as the level becomes harder and harder as you pass them.

the harder to aim, the better reward as you succeed.

Prismatic - 1
what’s wrong with it?

in photo

known that the number below is the right one (2 drops left), but graphically there are 3.
if you hit bonus, you get 3 more drops, then instantly those balls come up, leaving yourself confused.

for efficiency, luck and endurance, it feels confused. you can earn a lot with ease, or nothing. it can be long or short depending on how well you are playing this.

how should this game be reworked?

like most of the other games, this needs multiple modes. except for the crazy mode, the “drops remaining” indicator should tell how many drops you have yet to be used. for example, if the indicator says 1 and the wheel has a ball inside, once that ball has landed outside the bonus, the next ball is the last one (unless you hit another bonus that gives you another set of balls).

  1. original (luck, challenge, accuracy): slightly decreased bonus payouts (that one on the centre), but increased low-tier ones.
  2. crazy (high-paced): you are directly given 3 balls at once. every ball that lands on the bonus area instantly gives you another 3. the game ends when there are no more balls visually left.
  3. conservative (accuracy, casual): the speed of rotation won’t be too random. you won’t be given bonus balls even if you hit bonus. payouts increased in compensation.
  4. set (challenge): landing on a specific set of holes to score more tickets (and probably bonus).

Ring God - 3
i think this game is literally as a freebie as little birde feeders as long as you know how you can throw the rings to the same bottle. doesn’t even give challenges. before the update, time limit being 40 seconds would be extremely hard to hit bonus even if you can hit that quick and neat. now being 60 seconds, it suddenly becomes a no-brainer to score a bonus.

after little birde feeders, it is potentially ideal to players oriented at efficiency because it lacks challenge while fairly high in payouts.

how should this game be reworked?
  1. original: no change.
  2. random (challenge, accuracy): scoring zones are randomised per 5~10 second period. 10 and 20-point zone should be replaced by 80 and 100 thereafter, but less common to appear.

the following games are less problematic, therefore only explained in brief. casual players will play these. they are less critical to have more modes to play with.

Tornado - high-paced game, therefore reasonably low payouts. there are no immediate necessity to change after the update that halved the cost and the 150-ticket bonus was introduced. the optimal condition will be increasing the bonus to 200.

Gears of Coin - it seems you can finish the game in 10 seconds as well. you can gain at least 30~50 tickets on average.

The Offering - with that UFO bouncing away the touching balls, it’s well balanced.

Candy Slam - dual-player mode needed (the cabinet seems to be designed for up to two players), like bug bytes.

Bug Bytes - the game is meant to be as simple as whack a mole.

the following games only need simple changes.

Planetary Piano - removal of ticket cap. it’s punishing if you can surpass the score equivalent.

Dragon’s Treasure and Coin River - removal of ticket cap, as same as Planetary Piano.

Ultimate Cow Wheel - 5 pulls instead of 4. pucks are often stuck outside the area they should be in. set a timeout to respawn them if they fail to move for more than a designated time.

The Ice Cave - normal mode is supposed to let you throw infinite balls (???). it should be re-implemented as easy mode.

the following games need further observation:

Salmon Says - fast mode could be implemented.

Starfield Lanes - i feel like this game is okay, just that i don’t master it to write an in-depth report.

Wheel of Fire - if it cost 20 tokens per play, then its top prize should be 4000 tickets.

not to mention, if you wanna say that the designated 250-token limit is to prevent machine hogging, then please look at the arcade centres across most servers - it barely exists (except arcade gets major updates like phase 1 and 2).

i am very sure you will say that “these changes will eventually become boring again”, but at least it encourages different types of arcade players to try out other games. that is how it slows down the rate of active player decay in this section.

i think you don’t wanna see this again.

replies are made here

this thread was meant to focus on arcade centre, so that’s my bad for the title, therefore changed.

Not to ignore the good points you put here, but pushing a focus on “here’s why arcade didn’t do well” purely cuz the player count dipped after the major update is kind of a strawman.

Player count has always dipped after major updates in TU’s history, and the average playercount has been increasing over the years.

During 2019 the average playercount during no major update was: 288 - 649
During 2019 the average playercount amidst a major update was: 774 - 1,532

During 2021 the average playercount during no major update was: 488 - 784
During 2021 the average playercount amidst a major update was: 900 - 1,028

It’s just a cycle that happens when something new comes out, players in TU play it to death then go back to whatever they’re playing, to return now and then to play again.

I do like some of the difficulty changes though, especially Super Hoopers.


I’d also like to add that token costs should be leveled out at 5 and 10 intervals. Considering we get 25 tokens per use on the machines, if you were to play a bunch of different games you’d be left with an uneven amount of tokens depending on if you play sunlight roller or planetary piano.

I feel that if the Developers wanted to keep the 8 token costs on those games, then other games should have more varying costs than simply 5, 10, 20 tokens.

Arcade has quickly become the most popular section of the Plaza and for many the entire game, and for good reason. I don’t think the arcade has been a failure of any kind. It’s been a huge boost to this game.

I do plan to add more gametypes per game, but we also still have more games to add to the arcade as well.

I believe some of the games you mention have some balance issues, but they are also very true to the what you’d expect from an arcade in the real world, which is why game types would help with variety.

I don’t really agree that payouts are the only reason people play arcade machines, and burn out happens no matter what, but I do think more gametypes would give people more reasons to try a machine again, but at the cost of more development time to add those new gametypes.

With Phase 2, we still are on the phases that focus more on the prize redemption games, which are a little less skill based than other arcade games. Phase 3 will introduce more skill based games, which will be very exciting and also quite a lot of work as they are all individual games on their own (Galaxy Time is pretty much a multiplayer 2D shoot 'em up).

Player counts have been consistently high recently, we see around 3K unique players over a day. It’s normal for people to all hop on to see the new updates, then trickle down to normal con current player counts.

With all that said, I do like a lot of your suggestions and I will keep them in mind when we start making a return to Arcade development. Right now we’re gonna be doing Casino Phase 2, then a game world, then we’ll be back to the Arcade.