Marketing

Chuck E. Cheese's tries unlimited gaming

The chain, facing competition from trampoline parks, is offering an option for time-based game play.
CEC Entertainment

First, the company did away with tokens. Now, Chuck E. Cheese's is trying something different altogether: unlimited games.

The Dallas-based pizza and amusements chain on Monday said it would start giving customers at company-owned locations a time-based gameplay option. For $9, customers can play unlimited games for 30 minutes, rather than the play points the company has been using.

“All You Can Play provides a rewarding way to infuse more play into every day by limiting the restrictions caused by budgets and busy schedules,” said Ashley Zickefoose, Chuck E. Cheese’s chief marketing and concept officer.

Chuck E. Cheese's has been working to turn around its slumping sales. The 600-unit chain’s same-store sales declined 5.1% in the first quarter of this year.

That has prompted a number of sales-building initiatives, including a new loyalty program that it introduced earlier this year, More Cheese Rewards, as well as a national rollout of delivery. The company also released its own gaming app, called Chuck E. Cheese’s Racing World.

Chains like Chuck E. Cheese in recent years have ditched tokens for cards with points—the chain shifted to its Play Pass system in 2016. Customers buy cards loaded with points, and the cards also keep track of the “tickets” they win playing the games.

By shifting to a time-based play option, the company takes that a step further, eliminating the pay-per-game idea altogether while potentially giving customers a better value. “For kids, it means a whole lot more play, resulting in even more tickets and prizes,” the company said.

Chuck E. Cheese's said earlier this year it was testing unlimited games as part of its bid to combat competition from trampoline parks and other amusement competitors, many of which charge customers for the time they spend, rather than the amount they play.

Zickefoose in an email said the plan now is to keep both options at its stores. She said that All You Can Play is available with one of its birthday party packages.

“Parents get the certainty that comes with being able to plan how long the birthday party will last,” she said. “They no longer have to worry about running out of tokens or play points or emptying their pockets to buy more.”

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