Sunday, August 7, 2011

So What's Raw Thrills Up To Anyway? Pissing Me Off As Usual...

Nice, I'm watching the NASCAR race on's about time.  It's at Pocono, the Daytona USA tri-oval.  I keep forgetting to watch these things.  Now Brad Keselowski wins (and is drinking a Miller Lite) and Kurt Busch just said "bitch" on live TV (referring to an altercation with Jimmie Johnson).  And forget about censoring that word--if he can say it uncensored SO CAN I.

But I recently checked out a couple of Twitter accounts.  Raw Thrills has a Twitter, oh geez.  Anyway, here's what I got.

Justin Bieber on a Fast and Furious Bikes game...good enough of a reason NOT to play it now, sheesh...


Here's a YouTube video

The Description: Employees of Raw Thrills, Play Mechanix, Betson Enterprises and Namco Cybertainment risk their lives to bring you the best games in coin-op...



There has been both a Big Buck Hunter and a Big Buck Safari tournament recently.  The winner of the Safari tournament took home $10,000.  Wait--$10K?  Isn't that the same amount offered to those at EVO and MLG?  Screw Cock o Doody: Boring Ops, Gaylo: Reach, and Starcrap 2; I wanna watch some BIG BUCK HUNTIN'!!!  But no, really, Big Buck Hunter is the kind of game you'd see in a tiny pizza parlor arcade or in the front entrance of a Wal-Mart.  Golden Tee, an underground competitive game, is treated with more dignity.  Geez.


And now for the big salad.  This is a flattening article if you're Raw Thrills, otherwise, it's embarrassing.  Top 10 Secrets for Arcade Operators to Make Money.

Many survivors, such as Sega Sammy and Namco Bandai, were forced to merge and expand far afield into non-amusement territory in order to survive (despite which, their annual profit and loss statements still don't look nearly as healthy as stockholders would like).

This rocky history makes it all the more impressive that a relative newcomer, Chicago-based Raw Thrills, founded in 2001, has succeeded in a tough industry during a very difficult decade of consolidation and retrenchment. The extent of the company's success is impressive. Not only did distributors vote Raw Thrills top honors as "Manufacturer of the Year" in 2007 and 2008, but leading operators have named Raw Thrills chief executive Eugene Jarvis as 2009's Man of the Year. The Amusement and Music Owners Association of New York will present this honor at a dinner on Feb. 8 in New York City.

*profuse vomiting*

I'm going to apply this to SEGA....

Lesson 1: Learn your trade through years of hands-on experience. - Suzuki and Nagoshi have been making arcade games for years. 

Lesson 2: Build a great team. - These are the same people who made Virtua Fighter & countless arcade racers so no excuse there. 

Lesson 3: First be great at doing "just one thing." - Suzuki talked about "self-improvement" in his words of wisdom section from the game design book which is close enough. 

Lesson 4: Be an entertainer, and keep it simple.
Lesson 5: Respect the hits. - Quoting from the article:

When RT launched in 2001, the amusement trade could not foretell the staying power of its games. But from the very start, the company has worked to achieve a style of gameplay and graphics presentation that attracts the casual gamer and holds his interest. Rather than over-complicated simulations, simple yet fun gameplay has led to core playability that keeps cashboxes full. In short, RT always remembers that it's in the entertainment business, not the "super accurate simulator" business.


If you're in the entertainment business, then you are in a hit-driven business. The U.S. economy increasingly has no room for "mid-list" book titles, "fairly popular" TV shows, and "modest sleeper" films. Either it's a blockbuster or it's nothing. Raw Thrills embraced this principle through licensing hit properties such as The Fast and the Furious (remember, it was a hit film before it was a hit game) and the Terminator franchise. RT was an obvious choice when a safe pair of hands was needed to bring the million-selling Guitar Hero consumer videogame franchise to the arcades.

Step 1: Make mediocre games based on pop culture crap.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: PROFIT!!!

Sega can't win here, they just can't.  When they're making good games based on true blood, sweat, and tears, they lose.

Lesson 6: Build your own brand.
Lesson 7: Remember the basics.
Lesson 8: Teamwork.
Lesson 9: Market to your ultimate customer, the player ... not just to the next level down in the business chain. - These all pertain specifically to managing arcades, something that Sega surrendered on years ago (aside from UFO catchers).

Lesson 10: Get connected. - Ever since when did Sega meet with their fans?  Other than ridiculous canned crap, like Sonic Boom at E3 or Nagoshi doing Yakuza promos???  Where's Yu Suzuki anyway???  Doing nothing other than  

Bonus lesson: Stay focused on the future. - Does Sega strike you as focused on the future?  Or are they just trying to stay alive, not looking to overtake anyone?  Whatever happened to Japanese honor???  What a catastrophe.

So lemme ask you this--if Raw Thrills can crap out anything and it's a hit, why can't Sega?  Two reasons:

1. No one wants to play Sega games because they are really bad and us Sega diehards are too blissfully unaware to notice this...
2. Sega is too lazy and doesn't care.

So shame on everyone, shame on Sega, welcome to the future of racing games--Fast and Furious and Need for Speed!!!

EDIT: Well, let me elaborate on what Sega should've done.  Tomorrow, they can't just come out and say "We're reviving twenty of our IP's with 300+ man teams each," no, doesn't work that way.  Maybe in the past they could've produced some more DC/Saturn/whatnot ports, treated them with more TLC, started with smaller games working their way up in order to raise their confidence and consumer awareness thus beginning the process of rolling the ball down the hill.  Don't get me wrong, they've done this in the form of a new Yakuza and a new Sonic game (after six/seven botched attempts thus flatlining the franchise) and OutRun/Sega Rally Online Arcade, but that's not enough, it just isn't.  Especially if you're a racing game fan like I am.

And they don't necessarily HAVE to make an arcade comeback here--home consoles are fine by me.  Better that we get a measly Sega Racing Classic XBLA/PSN port than get another unique arcade racer (like R-Tuned or Sega Race TV) that makes a grand whopping total of US arcade appearances in the single-digits.  But no, today they're in a crap position so they're in a bind here.

I expect some Midway fans to read this someday and then proceed to call me a fanboy.  Hell, I tell you this--I played the crap out of Cruis'n USA and World (both in arcades and on N64) when I was a kid.  It was fun.  But now, I see through its transparency...


And one more thing.  EDIT: I didn't find this on the Raw Thrills Twitter--no, they wouldn't touch this with a twenty foot pole.  This is about Pinball and Williams Entertainment (which would later become part of Midway).  Pinball lost popularity in the late 80's-90's.  Why?  

In 1986, Williams High Speed [a pinball machine] changed the economics of pinball forever.  Pinball developers began to see how they could take advantage of programmable software to monitor, incentivize, and ultimately exploit the players.  They had two instruments at their disposal:  the score required for a free game, and the match probability.  All pinball machines offer a replay to a player who beats some specified score.  Pre-1986, the replay score was hard wired into the game unless the operator manually re-programmed the software.  High Speed changed all that.  It was pre-loaded with an algorithm that adjusted the replay score according to the distribution of scores on the specified machine over a specific time interval.

Basically, what Williams did was alter the free game thresholds, either by making them increasingly more difficult or completely random.  And this isolated novice players and thus pinball lost a lot of players.  Then pinball proceeded to die.  Game over.

And what's sad is that Williams AKA Midway continued this winning tradition into Cruis'n USA, Cruis'n World, Fast and the Furious.  Come in first, win a free race.  Yeah, but the rubber band AI is so cheap that it's just a big tease to get you to play cause MAYBE you'll win one.  At least Sega racers don't give you this free game BS--you play one again, win or else, you're happy.

You know, I always thought it was weird that people would stand in the middle of the road waiting for you...what if you don't stop on a dime?  You run their asses over as they explode into packets of blood (Maximum Force-style).

Now don't get me wrong, these aren't the WORST games I've played.  But this is what I say--Midway/Raw Thrills make cheeseball games.  They ruined arcades for me...watching that Daytona USA or OutRun cabinet being ushered away for a Cruis'n or FnF game.  Makes me wanna puke (again).

Oh yeah, here's some quotes by Eugene Jarvis that I'm too lazy to elaborate on...

I need to go back to sleep.


  1. The whole Cruis'n series on N64 (USA, World, Exotica) are actually pretty good fun. Well i enjoy them anyway.

    1. Yeah I liked Cruis'n USA and World up until a certain point, then they just got shallow compared to other racing games. Never liked Cruis'n Exotica or Fast & the Furious then on.