There isn’t a lot of down time at Dave & Buster’s. But Kevin Bachus, the senior vice president of entertainment and games strategy at the 76-unit chain, which projects total revenues of $822 million to $831 million in the 2015 fiscal year, thinks there can be even less.
As in, none at all—if a consumer is willing to play along.
“One of the first things I did when I joined the company was try to determine how we could extend the experience our guests have when they’re not inside one of our brick-and-mortar stores,” says Bachus, who has been with Dave & Buster’s for more than two years.
Arcade games and big-screen TVs complement the cuisine at the family-friendly brand, and Bachus’ goal was to tether those experiences to out-going diners. With that in mind, he turned to the one thing that tends to never leave the consumer’s side: mobile devices.
Dave & Buster’s partnered with developers to create three mobile games based on the most popular arcade options within the restaurant, a project Bachus hopes will keep customers tuned in—and coming back.
“It was really important for us that we avoid just doing little promotional games,” Bachus says. “These are actual full-fledged, full-blown high-quality versions of the arcade games. The games feel like they are native to smart phones or tablets—almost as if there had never been a coin-operated arcade game that existed previously.”
Three games were developed: Big Bass Wheel and Tippin’ Bloks were brought to the small screen by Robosoft Technologies, while Speed of Light was developed by Sarbakan.
The trio, released in July, can be downloaded free of charge on the iPhone and Android platforms. As adoption ramps up, Bachus expects a positive response.
“I think people are going to love them,” he says. “The games are compelling.”
The benefit to the restaurants will be easy to see as well, Bachus adds. The games allow customers the chance to play for actual tickets, redeemable only in-store. Players punch in their Dave & Buster’s Power Card number and then stock up.
“If a player wins these tickets, they need to come into the store to redeem them for prizes,” he says. “So, we’re certainly hoping that while they’re there they can get a Power Card and maybe get another 1,000 or 2,000 tickets or grab an order of [Classic] Goldfingers.”
By the end of the year Bachus hopes to extend the program much further.
“My hope is that we can add a lot more over a long period of time,” he adds. “We have a lot of games to pick from, a lot of different options available to us. I’d love to put another two or three out before the end of the year.”