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Visit to Taipei Market - Exploring the Diversified Game Industry Landscape (I)

Asu Su

Taipei City is the political and economic hub of Taiwan and houses many famous landmarks and night markets such as the Palace Museum, Taipei 101 Tower, and Yangming Mountain.  There are both tradition and innovation throughout the whole city.  GTI Asia Taipei Expo 2018 will take place at the Taipei World Trade Center in Xinyi District, the most cosmopolitan area of Taipei, allowing industry professionals to see the process of the Taiwan electronic game industry’s development and understand the best platform among numerous Taiwanese companies and products.  Through this market visit, we have the opportunity to take our readers to check out the current business conditions of amusement establishments in Taipei as well as popular game genres and trends.

Unmanned stores in Wufenpu, Songshan District operating claw vending machines

Since the second half of 2017, unmanned stores offering claw machines have sprung up throughout Taipei City.

Unstaffed stores featuring claw machine operations have spread across the crowded streets of Taipei, spanning from 50 to 150 square meters in size.  They all share a distinct characteristic - labeling the purchasing prices of prize items and the amount of money to guarantee obtaining the items.  Most of the claw machines display the wording “object-selecting vending machine” with the intention to announce that their primary business is vending and selecting freely.  Of course, we can see that the most profitable operating mode for a claw vending machine is the game mode charging consumers NT$10 to get a game token for a play.  Through luck and skills, players can win big with small money, grabbing their desired objects with money that is less than the prices labeled.  If the monetary amount of tokens inserted by players reach the prices labeled, the claw machines can be altered to the vending mode, which is the so-called “guaranteed winning” mode prevailing in the market.  This “anti-addiction" approach shows us a lovely side of these unmanned claw machine stores.

Game entertainment businesses in Ximending

Raohe Street Night Market and the Ximending commercial district gather a lot of young people and in front of many stores in these areas there are prize machines and vending machines offering a wide range of merchandise.

Located in the northeast of Wanhua District, Taipei City, Ximending is the most important shopping zone in the west part of Taipei.  Its name came from the Japanese colonization period.  At that time most residents lived within Taipei City and the Ximen area was the center for recreation.  In 1986, Taipei’s first theater, “Tokyo Stand” was erected there, and in 1992, the area was formally named “Ximending”.  Ximending became the first pedestrian zone of Taipei and set a benchmark.  With convenient public transport systems, Ximending not only has a dense network of bus routes but is next to Ximen Station where the Taipei metro Blue Line and Green Line intersect.  Moreover, Ximending is a renowned fashion business district of Taipei, housing the Red House, tattoo street, movie street, KTVs, Wannian Commercial Building, Wanguo Department Store, Eslite Mall and diverse boutique shops.  It is one of the places favored by Taipei residents on holidays and also home to various game entertainment businesses.

 

* Hyper Gamer - large-scale professional e-game competition center 

Location: B1, Eslite Spectrum Ximen Store, Taipei

Area: about 1,800 square meters

Business hours: 11:30 – 22:00

Prices: NT$5 for a token, 10 complimentary tokens for spending NT$300, 20 complimentary tokens for spending NT$500

 

The most popular game genre at this arcade is music games, and those titles featuring Japanese or Korean animation elements such as “Danz Base”, “PIU”, “MaiMai” and “Dance Evolution” are the hottest among players.  Players here are of high skill levels or professional level, fully exhibiting the expressive personality and vitality of young people in Taipei.  As for fighting games like the King of Fighters and the Tekken series, master-level competitions are carried out and surrounded by young people standing in a circle.  The intensity of competition at the site well lives up to the name of this so-called large-scale professional e-game competition center.

 

* VR GO offline experience center

Business hours: February 2017

Area: 230 square meters

Prices: time-based fee at NT$800 per hour; play-based fee at NT$150 per play

 

According to the staff, this VR experience center started trial operation this February and has attracted many young people to enjoy the new experience.  The VR headsets used there range from HTC, Sony PSVR to Chinese brands.  A clear description of the VR equipment at VR GO was not available as we did not go into the compartments, but we could see the “Huanying Xingkong” logo from the control panel of the VR equipment.

 

Other stores in Ximending include Toy Story, Object Selecting Boutique Shop, and One Piece Anime Boutique.  In addition, there are a wide variety of prize machines and beverage vending machines on the covered sidewalks.  Kiddie rides and capsule vending machines are placed in front of some small shops and clinics.

 

Dynamics of Taipei City electronic game industry

Electronic game arcades in Taiwan are divided into “general class” and “restricted class” in order to distinguish game machine models and ages of players.

On June 8, 2017 Taipei City relaxed its regulation on electronic game arcade operation by lifting the registered capital restriction of NT$100 million.  In the past, electronic game arcade business operators needed NT$100 million of registered paid-in capital to operate an arcade in a shopping mall, department store or amusement park.  However, the amendment to the “Taipei Municipal Self-Governance Ordinance for Regulating the Establishment of Electronic Game Arcade Businesses” was passed in its third reading and went into effect.  Through adding the “cross-industry alliance clause”, electronic game arcade applicants are not subject to the capital restriction if revenues of the partnering business sites like department stores exceed NT$100 million.  The implementation of the revised ordinance is expected to make the number of “general-class” electronic game arcades go up by 2 to 3 at least.  The “Taipei Municipal Self-Governance Ordinance for Regulating the Establishment of Electronic Game Arcade Businesses” was promulgated and enacted on October 10, 2011.  The original provisions stipulated that the registered capital of an electronic game arcade applicant shall be above NT$100 million; electronic game arcades are required to be located in a shopping, department store or amusement park which spans more than 10,000 square meters in floor area and the floor area of one story of the business building shall reach 1,000 square meters at least; and the registered paid-in capital of the applicant shall be above NT$100 million.

 

Electronic game arcades in Taiwan are divided into “general class” and “restricted class”.  The main entrance and exit of the former ones shall be connected to a road that is wider than 20 meters and maintain a distance of larger than 50 meters from kindergartens, schools of all levels, hospitals and libraries; the main entrance and exit of the latter ones shall be connected to a road that is wider than 30 meters and maintain a distance of larger than 1,000 meters from kindergartens, schools of all levels, hospitals and libraries.  According to official statistics, the strict capital restriction has made the number of “general-class” electronic game arcades in Taipei City dwindle to only 3 since the implementation of the ordinance.  To promote economic development and drive the electronic game industry to upgrade, the government started studying and discussing revision of the law in 2016.

 

*The revision contains four key points:

 

 

1. The requirements on the registered capital of NT$100 million for applicants and on the floor area remain the same, but with the addition of the “cross-industry alliance clause”, applicants are not subject to the registered capital restriction if revenues of the partnering shopping malls, department stores or amusement parks exceed NT$100 million.  Also, all shopping malls and other business sites are limited to providing one electronic game arcade. 

2. For electronic game machines, the specification review mechanism has been established, so the original provisions on relevant review mechanisms and penalties have been all deleted. 

3. A no-smoking rule is newly added for electronic game arcades to conform to, and the rules on the prohibition of alcohol beverages, betel nuts, narcotics and on the noise level and lighting shall remain the same as prescribed by the original provisions.

4. Prior to the enactment of the amendment, it has been put forward that those businesses which file applications shall also submit the “land-use zoning conditional permit designation” and “the building usage license and uses of the building” in order to prove the sites are suitable for use by electronic game arcades and have been approved by the Taipei City Government in accordance with the autonomous ordinance.  

 

※The article is published in the GTI Magazine Issue No. 162 in Mar. 2018

 

 

 

 

 
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