Legendary Retro Arcade Mikado Crowdfunds 26 Million Yen After Lost Revenue Due to COVID-19

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Takada Baba Game Center Mikado assisted with the game footage shown in Hi Score Girl

The Mikado arcade is a pillar in Japan's retro fighting game community. The independent arcade chain hosts hundreds of game cabinets from the 80s and 90s; the Takada Baba Game Center Mikado even assisted with the game footage recordings shown in the Hi Score Girl anime, and the arcade's mascot character is drawn by Hi Score Girl manga artist Rensuke Oshikiri.

Thanks to the loss of foot traffic in the wake of COVID-19, the arcade has recently fallen into hard times. According to the Takada Baba Keizai Shimbun, the arcade lost approximately 60% of revenue following the Tokyo governor's plea last month for residents to stay home. Mikado is closing its doors until May 6, following the government's announcement of a state of emergency in Tokyo.

On April 10, Mikado announced that it had launched a crowdfunding campaign on Campfire to make up for the shortfall. Within a day, the campaign surpassed its initial goal of 20 million yen (approximately US$186,000), and as of April 15, the campaign has raised over 26 million yen (approximately US$243,000).

Minoru Ikeda, who is the head of the company and the owner of the Takada Baba branch, explained in a video asking for support that although he believes that the government will support businesses, they still haven't announced plans to support the service industries that are being affected by the virus. The amount of funds at Mikado's disposal will only last for about three or four months if the current situation continues. He also said that while the virus has caused problems across a range of industries that nobody was able to predict, he wants to use this occasion to try bold new things instead of just passively waiting around until the venues can reopen.

The Takada Baba branch had plans to open an annex building in the Hakuchō Plaza in May. Thanks to the crowdfunding money, the original plans will still be able to proceed. 10 million yen will be used to purchase and deliver the game cabinets for the new venue. Mikado also plans to open collaboration corners with other arcades around the country and open smoking areas in the Takada Baba and Ikebukuro branches, among other plans. The campaign will run until May 10, and Mikado plans to save the extra money raised for the arcade's future.

For now, however, gamers have no choice but to stay inside. On Twitter, Mikado made use of Japanese arcade slang by telling its fans: "You've been booted out of this joint for a month!" Ikeda said that the words may be a bit flippant for the occasion, but it's because of times like these that he wanted the announcement to be cheerful and fun.

For years, Mikado has maintained a thriving community even in the face of the Japanese arcade scene's long-term decline, and it's confident that it can weather this latest storm. The arcade's official YouTube channel is streaming new videos of retro games every day, and the tweet announcing the temporary closure of all venues ends with hope. "We'll meet again! For sure!"

Source: Takada Baba Keizai Shimbun

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