Rise of the Barcade

Arcade bars, sometimes called “barcades,” have been a growing phenomenon. While they date back to 1982 with Dave & Buster’s, the current renaissance began with the aptly-named Barcade in Brooklyn, NY, in 2004. Since then, over 100 such establishments have popped up across the United States. But how often to gamers frequent these arcade bars, and how does it compare to general nightlife frequency? In a recent RapidPoll, we asked 400 US gamers How often do you visit barcades? We also asked 500 adults in a separate RapidPoll How frequently do you go out to a bar, nightclub, or other evening entertainment venue?

Overall, 45% of all gamers have been to a barcade before, and 1/3 of all gamers currently visit a barcade at least once a year. Only 6% of gamers could be considered “regulars” that visit at least once per month. These numbers are lower than the general population for visiting bars or nightclubs. About 2/3 of adults have attended a bar or nightclub in their life, and 45% currently visit a bar or nightclub at least once a year. Attendance is also more frequent, with 24% of people considered “regulars” that visit a bar or nightclub at least once a month.

Gamers that participate in eSports—either watching, streaming, or competing in tournaments—were more likely to visit a barcade and visit more frequently than gamers that are not involved in eSports. About 45% of eSports participants currently visit a barcade at least once a year compared to 26% of gamers that are not active in eSports. Regular attendance (at least once per month) among eSports participants is 11% compared to 3% for non-participants.

Male gamers are much more likely to attend barcades than female gamers: 38% of male gamers visit barcades at least once a year versus 23% of female gamers. Male gamers also visit barcades more frequently. Of gamers that visit barcades at least once a year, 21% of male gamers visit a barcade regularly (at least once a month) compared to only 9% of female gamers.

Differences in visit frequency for different age groups was minimal. Even though many barcades are built around retro arcade games from the 80s, younger gamers are slightly more likely to visit and frequent these establishments. Over 1/3 of gamers under 35 visit barcades at least once a year, and about 7% are regular visitors. For gamers 35 and over, 30% visit at least once a year and 5% are regular visitors.