Jong-Wook Shin, Founder, President and CEO of iiRcade, Inc. iiRcade is the ultimate connected home arcade machine that plays nostalgic retro games as well as modern games transformed into immersive arcade experiences. iiRcade creates the most incredible arcade gaming experiences ever.
When did you first fall in love with gaming?
I fell in love with gaming when I was very young in my early childhood. I started gaming at a local arcade near my home all the time, spending all my allowance on playing games. The arcade and gaming was my favorite thing in the world.
You have had an incredible career from working at Sony, and Intel, to being Vice President of Product Management & Innovations at LG Electronics. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Thank you so much for the compliments. It was all about a childhood dream and passion to make a dent in the universe. I was a type of person who loved to take things apart, creating new things and dreaming about creating new innovations that would change people's lives some day. With the strong passion to change the world, together with my childhood dream of owning an arcade at home that was shattered due to arcade machines being too big for our small homes, too expensive to purchase and needing to buy a new cabinet every time I wanted a new game, I knew it was a destiny for me to create something that would bring the most amazing arcade gaming experiences. By 2011, I was putting together product requirements, but due to family commitments, I could not execute on my plans. I knew that I had to take a chance and commit myself to make my childhood dream come true someday. In late 2018, with my family's support, I pulled the trigger and created iiRcade. I believe that it was something that was meant to be and a destiny calling that came directly from my heart.
At first glance iiRcade, Inc sounds like a dream for anyone who grew up visiting arcades. When did you first come across the vision for this gaming platform?
Thank you so much for the compliments. The vision of the perfect arcade machine has been there for a long time, envisioned from my passion for arcade gaming. The project definition was put together in 2011 and the project started executing at the end of 2018.
Could you tell us about iiRcade, what games will come pre-loaded and what the process is for consumers to buy/download more games?
Of course. iiRcade is a platform that is created to transition the arcade experiences to the next generation. iiRcade is made by gamers for gamers, created by people who love and understand arcade gaming, and enables new experiences for both gamers and game developers alike. iiRcade enables many different experiences, such as:
- Being able to purchase and download new games from online store that will have continuously expanding game library with new amazing new game titles.
- Being able to play both nostalgic retro arcade games as well as modern games transformed into arcade games that enable new arcade gaming experiences never-before-seen. For example, playing modern First Person Shooter games with high definition graphics, powerful audio using twin stick controls.
- Enablement of cinematic arcade gaming experiences via 19″ high definition display, 100W of powerful stereo audio and premium arcade controllers.
- Online arcade gaming.
- Premium quality cabinet with original design, Dragon's Lair design and Black Edition that is a blank cabinet enabling you to design your own cabinet (and comes with Double Dragon premium stickers that you can put on the cabinet).
- Wireless and Wired Headset Support.
- Bluetooth Connectivity.
- HDMI Out.
- Convertible design to both bartop and standup arcade machine form factors (when bartop is put onto the stand, becomes the full standup arcade machine).
- Design that fits anywhere in your home. Only thing you have to do is plug-it-in.
- Simple, easy, quick to start playing games right away.
Not only does iiRcade enable great arcade gaming experiences for gamers, iiRcade also enables it for game developers as well. For the game developers who also grew up with arcade gaming and want to make arcade games but couldn't due to the lack of opportunity, expensive costs and risks associated with it, iiRcade is a home arcade platform that, for the first time ever, enables game developers to create arcade games using coding languages that they are comfortable with, or transform their existing Unity, Unreal Engine 4 or Android-based games into arcade games. iiRcade's OS has the technologies built in that enable transforming these PC, console or Android-based games into arcade games with ease, so that game developers can focus on creating great games.
iiRcade will come preloaded with 11 games. We decided to take the quality over quantity approach in preloaded games, so instead of preloading hundreds of games that are cheap and no one will play, we've decided to preload premium games that gamers will love, in various different genres. The 11 games include :
- Dragon's Lair (Adventure – Arcade)
- Double Dragon (Beat'em Up Action – Arcade)
- Beach Buggy Racing (Kart Racing – Modern)
- Gunbird (Shooting – Arcade)
- Bomb Squad (Online Multiplayer Party Game – Modern)
- Snowboard Championship (Snowboarding)
- Thunder Hoop (Action – Arcade)
- Twin Brats (Arcade – Arcade)
- Maniac Square (Puzzle – Arcade)
- Power Balls (Arcade – Arcade)
- Fancy World (Platform – Arcade)
Users can get new games from online store on iiRcade application. It will be very easy to use. Users can find games that they like, click the purchase button and the game will be automatically downloaded and installed on their devices. By the time they go to the device, they can start playing the game right away.
What are some of the companies that you have licensing agreements with?
So far, we have the games from over 20 different brands, including Sega, Psikyo, Arc System Works / Technos Japan, Jaleco, Toaplan, Data East, Playdigious, Dotemu, Vector Unit, Digital Leisure and many others. The list will continue to grow with amazing new games that gamers love.
iiRcade initially raised interest and funding with a Kickstarter campaign. Were you at all surprised by the huge level of initial interest?
We were very happy and thankful that we have received such a huge level of interest. We believe that this was possible thanks to our amazing fans who made it happen together with us as a family. With such an amazing and dedicated family holding our hands, we believed we could achieve anything. We would like to thank and dedicate all our successes, including our successes with Kickstarter and future successes which we will be achieving together, to everyone in our family.
What do you think it is about these old-style 2-D games that keeps players hooked?
I am a huge fan of the old-style 2D games and you can say that I am also hooked! I believe these games have amazing gameplay that defines what a “fun” is, and still even today, stand out among even the games with the latest technologies. The 2D games from the good old days were all about simple and fun that relied on your dexterity and lots of practice, which enables easy entrance to the game and keeps on getting the players hooked. These games will always have their place, no matter how much technology advancements happen in the future, and will always keep the gamers coming back for more.
There was something magical about the glory days of arcades when players stood next to each other. Do you feel that this magic has been lost with newer games which often involve playing alone virtually against opponents that you will never meet?
There was definitely something magical about playing others standing next to each other, while putting your quarter on the marquee to get in line and wait your turn. I believe that a big portion of the good old days magic like this may have been lost, but at the same time, a new magic was created with modern games on playing games with others virtually. We believe that there is a way to bring back the good old magic while keeping the new one and these are some of the experiences that iiRcade is going to bring back and enable for our users.
When is the launch date for iiRcade and how can it be pre-ordered?
iiRcade is currently on pre-order at a significant discount at iiRcade and will launch at retails in Q4, 2020.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about iiRcade?
iiRcade is made by gamers for gamers and is a platform that we will be making amazing new experiences together with our fans. There is a lot more coming soon, we are just getting started. Stay tuned.