While video game bars are popular in Japan, they do operate in somewhat of a gray area.
Video game bars typically let customers play games for free while charging them for drinks. The Association of Copyright for Computer Software (ACCS) has pointed out that not getting permission from the creators violated copyright. In 2011, ACCS called on game bars across Japan to adhere to copyright law.
The new bar Tokyo Video Gamers, which is slated to open in Akihabara this September, claims to be the first video game bar in Japan to get official consent from various game makers.
The bar has the cooperation of Sega, Arc System Works, SNK, City Connection (which owns the rights to Jaleco’s catalog), G-Mode (which owns the rights to Data East games and, in Japan, Tetris), Paon DP (which also owns the rights to some Data East games), and Dotemu SAS.
Now that an officially licensed game bar has opened in Japan, it certainly seems to remove a lot of the gray area that surrounds other establishments. It’s unclear if they also will need to work with game companies and copyright holders. Tokyo Video Gamers also has officially licensed merch.
Below are some images inside Tokyo Video Gamers, which seems to have a fairly standard stocked bar (nothing super rare or fancy) but should please folks who want to drink cocktails and beer while playing retro games.
Tokyo Video Gamers is open to the public starting today.