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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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