GameWorks reopens in downtown Seattle under new ownership

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Following the announcement of a permanent closure in late 2021, any thought of GameWorks Seattle reopening was not in the cards.

First opening in Seattle in 1997, GameWorks was not just a regular arcade. Originally conceived as an entertainment hub by Sega, Universal Studios and DreamWorks, it was designed for “fun, excitement, competition and bringing people together,” as Steven Spielberg of DreamWorks said.

GameWorks eventually would open at least 30 locations around the country, and at least 6 international locations.

But over the years, citing financial difficulties, locations closed or were acquired by other arcades, such as Dave & Busters or Jillian’s.

The Seattle location hung on through, but then COVID-19 came along.

GameWorks said the 20 months during the pandemic turned their business upside down and the slow economic recovery left them no choice but to close.

On Dec. 24, 2021, GameWorks announced they were closing their doors forever.

But then an ownership group bought it, with the original arcade games intact and few new machines out on the floor.

Darren Des Roches, managing partner of the new GameWorks, provided KIRO 7 a tour before Thursday’s grand opening.

When asked why now and why this location, Des Roches said there was lots of nostalgia behind this location, after all, it was the first one and it opened 25-years ago.

There are a few changes to this new GameWorks, mostly aesthetic. The e-sports lounge has been moved above the side bar, and the pinball machines moved just below.

Des Roches says he wants GameWorks to be a place for the community to be connected again, especially after being separated for so long during the pandemic.

New games include a couple arcade-versions of the popular VR game Beat Saber, Mario Kart and even Kung Fu Panda.

There are carnival-style games for kids to gather tickets and trade-in for prizes, like a stuffed Homer Simpson head.

Des Roches says the kitchen will be open for customers, with food soon. New hiring is moving along, and adjusted hours reflect staffing concerns.

As of now, the plan is to be open five days a week, from noon to 8 or 9, probably longer on the weekends.

The gameworks.com website is currently getting revamped, and most of the information on there is in the process of being updated.

“It’s about releasing that inner kid inside of you,” Des Roches said. “It’s all about having fun.”