Arcade1up’s Infinity Game Table is something of a new outing for the company. After all, the popular line of arcade replicas builds off existing games and ideas. The Infinity Game Table is a new concept in need of new games to support it. Still, there aren’t many companies out there as experienced in shipping heavy furniture with screens, so it’s not totally out of the team’s wheelhouse.
The hardware’s interesting. And full of promise! The Arcade1up team has future-proofed the Infinity Game Table with USB ports and a card slot, all of which do nothing for now. There’s constant software updates as the developers build out more experiences and features. You can play online with other table-owning friends! And there’s rumble? On a table? Yeah, for sure.
For now, though? There’s not a lot to do on it. The launch slate of software includes mostly well-trodden Hasbro games, as well as some generic public domain fare. For the most part, the games seek to replicate the physical experience as much as possible. You have to move all your pieces manually. The table makes you read another player their Trivial Pursuit questions. You have to drag each letter of your word into place in Scrabble. This is an understandable stance, but sometimes we just wanted to do a little less manual labor. Especially with big screens and covering and uncovering our tile racks.
In the current lineup, there are a couple of standouts. Monopoly and Scrabble feel the most robust and complete. It makes sense that these popular games would get the most attention. It’s a bit of a drag to have to manually move your Monopoly pieces since there’s no choice involved, and that does slow things down a bit. Still, one of the main problems with the game is that people mess up the rules, so automating them does help. Like the auction rule! Still, there are house rules available, so you can mess up the game’s already-tenuous rule set even further if that’s how you like it.
One app that could really use a tune-up is chess. It seems like it’d be hard to mess up a multiplayer implementation of chess, but the IGT version uses a top-down view of 3D pieces. In practice, most of your effort is spent discerning the pieces from each other. It loses the tactile feel of real pieces while not gaining the ease of use of most digital versions. The options allow you to pick a few different materials for pieces, which is fun! But it really needs the option to use flat symbols.
It feels like the Infinity Game Table is coming in hot, and the developers know it. Games appear to be finished in reverse order of complexity, pushing out the easy and simple stuff to bolster launch game quantity. It means there’s a lot of… solitaire? And checkers? There’s even, no kidding, a tablecloth app. The system is capable of a lot, but these initial apps don’t do much with them.
There are also some hardware missteps. Some are easy to fix! Like the flimsy included accessories. Not a lot of games use them, to be fair, but the experience with paper tile rack covers is decidedly less than deluxe. Others… maybe not. The entire table is glossy, which is a tech choice many know too well. Does it look shinier when you first see it? Sure. But this is a thing you’re supposed to touch a bunch and even lean on sometimes. There are lots of smudges immediately, and a matte finish would have done a lot to mitigate that.
Ultimately, the promise of the Infinity Game Table is in handling complex and unique ideas. A suite of Asmodee games, such as Ticket to Ride and Pandemic, should be ready for the system’s public launch. (For an additional cost.) This will help! A digital system shines when it can help with calculation and setup. But what the table really needs is some original ideas built for the platform.
Arcade1up knows this, and is pushing its message hard: we want to help developers make games for this thing. Unfortunately, it feels like the team’s banking on the allure of the platform. If you build it, they will come? With such a small market, though, that likely won’t happen without direct funding, something Arcade1up isn’t yet offering as an incentive. Without that, the player base likely won’t grow enough to support a wider development community.
Arcade1up is continuing the process of shipping the Infinity Game Table to Kickstarter backers now. Public preorders will launch on July 17, 2021. It’s exclusively available through Best Buy.