Chaos games: how are arcade machines approved in Italy

To understand the reasons why the closure of some LAN rooms in Italy, where the Customs and Monopoly Agency (ADM) has seized PCs and consoles, we need to take a step back: and understand how arcade gaming machines in Italy most common in arcades, must be approved.

These are the classic electronic devices that come to mind when you think of classics like House of the Dead, Street Fighter and Dance Dance Revolution, but which are still present in many parts of the world.

“A huge amount of rules”

The essential premise is that ADM requests a large amount of documents from those who market arcade slot machines. The reason is obvious: commercial operators and equipment suppliers they must ensure that such slot machines cannot be used to play games of chance or slot machines; or in any case software with a possible gain of prizes or money.

Anyone who trades in arcade slot machines must first submit a summary sheet, which among other things describes in detail how the game works. This means making the commands explicit; how to access the main game modes (how to start a race and select a circuit, for example); what is the purpose of the game, including through the use of images. The details of the appliance manufacturer and importer must also be clearly highlighted.

If these requested details from a particular point of view seem legitimate – they are the entertainment version of the origin of food packaging, if we will – the question becomes more complicated when the protections aimed at ensuring ADM that the machines come into play can not , in any way be transformed into slot machines.

It is necessary to indicate where the playing card is, where it is located and whether it is protected, for example with a key, against unauthorized access“Mauro Zaccaria, sales manager for Tecnoplay, which sells arcade cabinets produced by companies such as SEGA and Konami, explains to DDAY.it.

The arcade version of Luigi’s Mansion uses dedicated controllers

The issue of access to the playing card is very important: because in fact, when a company like Tecnoplay delivers an arcade slot machine, it takes over the responsibility for any future changes to the playing card, especially on the software side, to the commercial operator. , who was given the key to access the playing card.

In other words, at the time of sale, the slot machine is approved: If ADM finds that a Tecnoplay customer has changed the playing card, the responsibility will fall on the customer and not on Tecnoplay.

In some cases, Tecnoplay also supplies its customers with bespoke PCs that need to be closed and sealed. “If there are doors that are not to be used, we put self-destruction labels: if a label breaks, it is not our fault“, emphasizes Zaccaria.

Software authentication is a sensitive aspect: why each update, in turn, requires a new homologation. Until recently, it was even necessary to deposit a copy of the source code of the encrypted software at ADM. “Now they no longer require the source code but the message (which confirms the protection of the code, ed.) how the source code was protected “, specifies Zaccaria. “They do not want the code unless it is a questionable slot machine, perhaps because it is made by a little known company“.

Outside Italy, the situation is different, Zaccaria explains. It’s actually the opposite: in Italy “they have created a huge pile of rules“to be respected before the commercial service is provided; elsewhere, such as in the United States, self-certification is sufficient. It is then up to a subsequent check by the inspection authorities to verify the commercial certifications of the commercial companies.

The PC node

The peculiarities of the PCs and the nature of the modern sector are at the heart of the regulatory vacuum that has often been referred to in recent days: in fact, every commercial operator should secure a new authorization every time the software is updated.

Online games like Apex Legends, Rocket League or Fortnite are updated very often, sometimes weekly to correct bugs or introduce new features: in these cases, this rule – born when the games were updated very little and sometimes never – is practically impractical.

A bureaucratic bottleneck that collides with the nuances of a new sector and which we are vigorously trying to insert into rules designed to regulate gaming.

Among the news in the rules that have been in place since June 2021, there is the possibility that arcade gaming machines are connected to the Internet: previously it was not possible. “Many games from Japan did not arrive because these games had to be connected to the networksays Zaccaria.

How arcade games change

Some modern arcade slot machines allow you to play in arcades on experiences that are also available on consoles and PCs. Sometimes, like Halo: Fireteam Raven, they are unique arcade experiences, even though they need the fire license.

Other times, games – like Mario and Sonic At the Olympic Games, Injustice, Luigi’s Mansion and Minecraft Dungeons – are also available on consoles and PCs; but the arcade versions are a completely different product, although some content is similar to the editions intended for home entertainment.

These are different versions with different game modes“, sums up Zaccaria.

For example, in Minecraft Dungeons Arcade, produced by Raw Thrills and Play Mechanix, trading cards are introduced, you can not log in with your account, and the experience is focused on four-player co-op to survive waves of incoming enemies. .

What about the online games that are today the epicenter of LAN rooms but do not have a separate arcade version? The answer is the future of the LAN space industry.

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