Japanese Game Maker Taito to Operate Arcades Overseas, First in 11 Years

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Foreign customers play claw machines in Tokyo.

Taito Corp., a major operator of game arcades, is set to open a new arcade inside a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Friday, it has been learned. It will mark the first time in 11 years for the company to open an arcade outside Japan.

Thanks to the popularity of Japanese anime and games, Taito aims to attract foreign demand by opening franchises jointly with companies in other countries.

The new arcade will have an area of about 224 square meters and more than 35 game machines. These include claw machines offering Japanese character goods as prizes and other game machines popular in Hong Kong.

A local Hong Kong company signed the franchise agreement to operate the business, with Taito providing prize goods and operational expertise.

Visitors from Hong Kong to Japan surpassed 2 million people annually before the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. People in Hong Kong are highly interested in Japanese games and anime.

Taito aims to make achievements in Hong Kong and then enter the markets of other foreign locations.

The company previously had subsidiaries in China and South Korea with arcades in those countries. However, they withdrew from their venture overseas by 2012 to focus on its business in Japan. Taito currently operates about 160 game arcades in the country.

Taito decided to operate overseas again because claw machines with Japanese character goods as prizes are popular among tourists visiting Japan; thus, demands in other countries can be expected.

According to the Japan Amusement Industry Association, annual sales from claw machines (excluding sales of machines themselves) in fiscal 2021 were ¥281 billion, rising 1.5-fold from fiscal 2016.

Other companies in the industry have also expanded their business overseas. The Bandai Namco group has about a total of 20 game arcades in Britain, Hong Kong, and India. Round One Corp., which operates entertainment facility complexes with bowling alleys, arcades, and more, has about 50 facilities, mainly in North America. They aim to increase the number to a total of 100 or more.