Mikado makes a move that other game centers did long ago.

Among arcade gamers in Japan, there’s no more sacred ground than Mikado. With branches in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba and Ikebukuro neighborhoods, Mikado has been weathering the storms that have seen so many other arcades, or “game centers,” as they’re called in Japan, close down. Focusing strongly on titles from the 1980s and ‘90s golden era of Japanese arcade games, Mikado has become especially loved for regularly hosting tournaments and other events for fighting and shooter games, creating a community gathering place for fans of coin-operated entertainment.

But with high inflation and rapidly rising electricity costs, times are getting tougher and tougher, and so Mikado has announced that it will be raising the price to play a number of its machines.

The announcement was made on Sunday through the official Mikado Twitter account, and there’s not much time before the price raise kicks in, as it takes affect on May 1. On that day, Mikado’s machines will stop taking 50 yen coins, and all will cost at least 100 yen to play.

You might think that a 100-percent price jump for Mikado’s most affordable games would be met with at lest some grumbling, but online reactions have been almost unanimously positive.

At current exchange rates, 100 yen is equivalent to about 65 U.S. cents, but that’s following a severe drop in the value of the yen versus the U.S. dollar in recent years. For most Japanese consumers, 100 yen still feels about what one dollar feels to U.S. spenders. That might seem like a lot to charge for an arcade game play, since the standard in the U.S. was 25 cents. In Japan, though, 100 yen has been the standard arcade game price for decades. Mikado offering some games for play for 50 yen would have been seen as a generous move 20 years ago, let alone today, and many of those reacting online to the price increase announcement were startled to hear that Mikado hadn’t yet made the switch to at least 100-yen pricing across the board, with comments including:

“Wait, they still had 50-yen games? That’s the bigger shock for me to hear.”
“No one would have faulted them for doing this years ago, so I really respect them for holding out so long.”
It can’t be helped.”
“Yeah, I was surprised they still had 50-yen games too. I think the Mikado world is worth even more then 100 yen a play.”
“Thank you for letting me play for so long for 50 yen. I’ll now be bringing a fistful of 100-yen coins to play Super Street Fighter II Turbo.”
“It’s amazing that they were still only charging 50 yen when they’re in that [downtown Tokyo] Takadanoba location.”
“Mikado’s owners are gods.”

▼ Mikado Takadanobaba

Even with the price increase, Mikado might be offering another generous deal to players. The exact wording of their announcement says that as of May 1, “50-yen coins will not be useable, and only 100-yen coins will be accepted” by the machines. It also doesn’t contain an apology or request for understanding, both of which are commonly included in public price increase announcements by Japanese companies. The announcement does say, though, that Mikado will be disclosing more details of the new pricing in the near future, which suggests something possibly more complex than just “games that used to cost 50 yen now cost 100.”

Taken together, those aspects of the announcement make it seem like Mikado might be planning to offer something extra to offset the extra 50-yen outlay, perhaps giving two plays for 100 yen on games that used to cost 50, making the per-play price the same while ensuring all players drop at least 100 yen into the machine.

If so, it’ll be another extremely fan-positive gesture from Mikado. At the same time, the fact that so many people were surprised to hear the arcade still had 50-yen games shows that they hadn’t actually been to Mikado in a while, so hopefully having their memories jogged about what a great place it is will have them visiting, and playing, soon.

Related: Mikado Takadanobaba website, Mikado Ikebukuro website
Source: Twitter/@babamikado via Hachima Kiko, Twitter
Top image: Wikipedia/Masato Taniguchi
Insert image: Wikipedia/Masato Taniguchi
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he misses the Western Arcade by Mt. SAC.