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April 18, 2014

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After 15 years, GameWorks closing on Strip, looking for new location to serve locals

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Christopher DeVargas

An inside view of GameWorks Las Vegas, Feb. 22, 2012.

GameWorks Las Vegas

An exterior view of GameWorks on the Las Vegas Strip, Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Map of Gameworks

Gameworks

3785 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, Suite 10, Las Vegas

The bright lights and cacophony of bells, buzzers and sound effects at the GameWorks arcade on the Las Vegas Strip played to a mostly empty crowd on a recent weekday afternoon, underscoring the low foot-traffic that is contributing to GameWorks’ decision to close the location within the next month.

High rent and too few customers are forcing the part-arcade, part-restaurant from its prominent spot on the Strip, which opened 15 years ago as the flagship location for the burgeoning national chain, said Mark Wiley, director of sales and marketing for GameWorks Entertainment.

GameWorks, nestled between M&M's World and the giant Coca-Cola bottle, will see its lease expire at the end of March, and the company doesn’t plan to renew it, Wiley said. The store could close as early as March 11.

But just because GameWorks won’t be on the Strip anymore doesn’t mean it won’t be in Las Vegas. Instead, the company, which is headquartered locally, is looking at potential sites around the valley to open a new location that will focus on serving locals more than tourists, Wiley said.

“We always wondered what it would be like to be more in touch with the locals market instead of relying on tourists,” Wiley said. “It’s really a strategic move to sustain the company in Las Vegas.”

The move comes as GameWorks tries to reinvent its brand after its 2010 bankruptcy, which led to the closing of locations around the country, and the continued shift toward home consoles and mobile devices for gaming.

“The old arcade concept has really died because of console gaming in the home,” Wiley said. “The new vision of the company is to update what gaming is. We want it to be more interactive. (GameWorks) is a place to socialize with your friends and not just be playing by yourself.”

The closure of the Strip location will result in about half of the arcade’s 50 employees being relocated to other stores, while the other half will be laid off, Wiley said.

The loss of GameWorks also signifies the departure of another family-friendly attraction from the Strip, although it may not be missed by many.

About a dozen customers could be seen wandering the arcade floor Wednesday afternoon, occasionally forking over a few quarters for a chance to fight off the zombie apocalypse, fly a fighter jet or simply play some Skee-Ball.

The age range was mixed, with groups of children and their parents intermingling with middle-age tourists.

“We’re just here to play some games,” Angelique Henry said as she strolled the floor with her 11-year-old daughter.

Henry, who splits her time between Las Vegas and California, said finding activities to do with her daughter on the Strip can be tough.

“It’s not really that family-friendly on the Strip,” she said. “I can see how (GameWorks) might work better in another spot.”

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  1. Insert Coins seems to be doing well on Fremont Street. I was there last weekend and it was hopping. Perhaps that type of business model could be used for GameWorks as well.

  2. I will miss GameWorks. I remember when they first opened. We used to go in there after Swing shift and shoot pool and drink beers on the 2nd floor. I also remember the giant climbing wall...it was always fun to watch drunk tourists try to climb that thing...the little kids were always the ones to get to the top, while the adults could barely make it 1/4 of the way up, LOL.

    That's too bad they're closing, but things change. Wonder what they'll put there next?

  3. the didn't get business because their game selection appears to have not been updated in about 5-8 years. Dave & Buster's is a way better brand. They should open one of those in Henderson and one in Summerlin.

  4. When I visit Las Vegas I like to go to Game Works, but this isn't going to stop me from going obviously. I guess I'm more concerned that some people think that Las Vegas should be more kid friendly? Why is that?

    I always thought Vegas was the "adult playground". I was never happy seeing how many parents had their children out on the strip at midnight or let their children run around the casino floor while they stopped to play a game on the way out of the casino.

    Las Vegas just isn't a place for children.

  5. Another business that would not talk to its (few) customers and thought it knew best what would work. (No coincidence its right next to another troubled company that does the exact same thing, MGM)

    The main entrance is surrounded by some scary characters hustling for money and is not very friendly. The inside is pre-90's arcade style. back when this was the thing to do. So out of date in every way...

    So now they think they may have an idea to solve the problem, move it to a new location... Moving, rather than fixing a problem, always works...

  6. @askmrmark... We are quite proud of our interaction with guests, and constantly gathering feed back on games, food and other entertainment interests. Anyone who follows us on facebook can attest to our daily posts and interaction, and we welcome your input as well.

    In regards to your comment about "moving, rather than fixing a problem", perhaps the article didn't clearly state for you the intention of modernizing the concept rather than being another outdated arcade. We understand times change, and with the end of our lease finally upon us at the Showcase Mall, we are now able to entertain the integration of these new trends in gaming entertainment.

    For everyone who has enjoyed good times at GameWorks, we appreciate your patronage and hope to see some of you in the facility before we close at the end of March.

  7. There is a great location up by Spring Mountain High School that is open and would be great for this type of venue. Gameworks is awesome, but with opinion needs to be close to the target market. The place is a little small, but I bet the rent would be good and the market is right there!

  8. Mr. Sun, Just Curious. Why is my comment (first one on this article, my name clearly visible as "trusted") not visible unless you click the "non-trusted" (see all comments) icon? Thanks, JS.