Manufacturers, distributors, and Family Entertainment Center owners alike tend to focus primarily on cash box or game earnings when evaluating a game. I can't argue that the cash box is King, but in a large room that is designed to keep as many customers as happy as possible, utilization can be an undervalued metric.
For example, a family of four walks into your location. The mom and the 7-year-old daughter gravitate to the ticket redemption games while the dad and the teenage son head for the video racing games. The mom and daughter spend $40 over the course of the same hour playing prize games while the dad and son spend $25 playing video games. Why the difference in spending? Redemption is a broad category that encompasses many sub-genres with varying gameplay values (Skee Ball and Down the Clown, vs. Big Bass Wheel for instance). On average though, redemption games have shorter gameplay time with more emphasis on prize value overplay value. Video game-play can take up to a few minutes since there is no prize value, so the play must be rewarding unto itself.
Utilization measures what percentage of time a game was being played over a defined period. (# of plays x length of play/time). A redemption game and video game both might have the same 75% utilization from Saturday at 1 pm-3 pm, but the redemption piece made three times the amount of money because of the length of play difference. Does that make the redemption piece more valuable to you and your customer base? Would that family of four still have spent $65 if the game room was redemption only or if the video games were occupied and father/son got restless waiting? Utilization is a helpful analytic metric to be used for evaluating your game room across or within all categories, not just redemption vs. video.
Selecting the proper mix of game room equipment is more than just picking the top-earning pieces in every category. It is about understanding your customer base and offering the appropriate variety of entertainment options to maximize the family fun experience at your facility. Does your facility track utilization or incorporate it into your game room evaluation? I’d love to hear your comments.
Jonathan Betti is Senior Vice President of Sales & Business Development for Betson Enterprises. Jon and the Betson team are focused on providing customer-centric products and solutions for the location-based entertainment business. Jon is passionate about the arcade space and has worked with manufacturers to develop several successful game concepts. He is also a board member of the AAMA Charitable Foundation.