Arts & Culture News

Free Play Arcade Makes a Big Comeback in Denton by Buying Its Own Square Space

A custom-made pinball machine called Denton Heat that's based on Gottlieb's Hollywood Heat at the now former location of Free Play Arcade's franchise in Denton.
A custom-made pinball machine called Denton Heat that's based on Gottlieb's Hollywood Heat at the now former location of Free Play Arcade's franchise in Denton. Corey Hyden
The last time Free Play Arcade had a location in Denton, it ended in a lawsuit. Now the arcade chain is coming back to Denton in a much bigger way.

Corey Hyden, the owner and founder of the Free Play Arcade chain, posted an announcement in the arcade's community group that he's made a big deal with developers that will bring a location back to Denton's square.

"While I had aims of drafting a big, long post and I meant to have a press release done by now, the secret is already out," Hyden wrote. "The people behind Free Play have purchased the old pharmacy building on the Denton Square. We now intend to place the largest Free Play Arcade yet in the building where we join our new tenant More Fun Comics and Games."

The massive space located on West Hickory Street that Free Play now owns will be able to house more than 100 full-size arcade game machines, more than 20 pinball tables, two bars, a kitchen and "tons of surprises," Hyden wrote.

"We now intend to place the largest Free Play Arcade yet ." – Corey Hyden, owner and founder of the Free Play Arcade chain

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Free Play used to have a smaller downtown Denton space, also on West Hickory Street, but it was closed last July just three days after its official reopening. The problem wasn't just the coronavirus pandemic. The arcade chain was also having problems working with the landlord who owned the previous space, which led to a $100,000 lawsuit alleging breach of contract and a defaulted lease. Hyden said at the time that the pandemic closure nullified the agreement due to state-ordered requirements to close all of his locations to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

There is no official opening date or even a tentative timeline. Hyden's only concrete answer to the barrage of "When will it open?" comments was "ASAP but it's going to take some time," as he wrote on Facebook.
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.