Thursday, January 21, 2016

Free Play Arcade -- Interview with Owner Corey Hyden

Located in Richardson, which is near Dallas, Free Play Arcade is a new destination spot in North Texas. I recently had a chance to catch up with co-owner Corey Hyden, who was kind enough to take time out of his busy day to answer a few of my questions.

BRETT WEISS: What is your position with the arcade?

CORY HYDEN: I’m the President and, through a convoluted entity structure, one of the two owners of Free Play. The other owner is Richard Tregilgas.

WEISS: How much is admission to the Free Play Arcade, and what will that get you?

HYDEN: It's $10 + tax to get in and that lets you play all of our awesome games as much as you'd like until closing. All of the games, through one manner or another, are set to free play.

WEISS: You have more than 60  cabs, correct? Do they run the gamut from classic to current? What are some of the cooler machines? Do you have  as well?

HYDEN: We have about 65 stand up cabinets, 5 cocktails, and 5 pinballs on the floor right now. It's mostly Golden Age classics with a solid helping of the solid early ’90 games. Our target date is nothing newer than 1995, but we make the occasional exception for super cool games. We have a substantial amount of games, with around 100 warehoused as well. We anticipate rotating 5-10 games in every month.

It's hard to really classify any of the games as "cooler" than the other because we have a pretty carefully curated collection designed to be awesomely entertaining but not overly hardcore. The arcade guys like our dedicated  and our Atari Star Wars. The retro enthusiasts love games like , and Tapper. The nineties kids eat up Simpsons and Street Fighter II. The collection is simultaneously approachable yet full of extremely rare games, such as our GPi King & Balloon. Our pinball is Williams-heavy, but we have a Super Mario Bros. that the  guys hate but normal people love.
WEISS: When did you get the idea to open the arcade, and how did it come together?

HYDEN: A few years ago, on a whim, I bought an arcade cabinet and had a blast with it. Next thing I knew, I was taking it apart, buying more, fixing them, and amassing a collection that quickly outgrew the house. As I introduced my friends to the games, it became obvious to me that there was still a huge market for these classic games. Once I had a couple hundred games, it was time to figure out a way to get them to the masses in a sustainable, awesome format. I roped in my brother-in-law Richard Tregilgas, and we went from there!
WEISS: What is your favorite classic arcade game and why? Do you have a modern favorite?

HYDEN: . Brutally difficult with a ridiculous theme. It's exactly what I want in an arcade game. Regarding modern, we have an Outrun 2 on the floor that is totally breaking our date/age rules because the game is so awesome.

WEISS: Did you grow up going to area arcades?

HYDEN: I grew up in the original Dave & Busters. I probably spent 200-300 hours there every summer. A few months back, I actually purchased a  that used to be in the original Dave & Busters. Can you imagine a time when D&B had a ? Insane.

WEISS: What sets Free Play Arcade apart from other arcades in DFW?

HYDEN: Our game list and game condition. We have 70ish awesome retro arcades on the floor right now, with none out of order, not even a single switch. We have three in-house techs dedicated to the art of insuring that these games are in top running order using only original game boards, CRT monitors, and the like. We also have the best, most insane beer selection in the area and awesome, not-overly-unhealthy food.

Free Play Arcade
1730 E. Belt Line Road
Richardson, TX 75081

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