Portrayed by Dustin Hoffman
|December 11, 2004
Hyperactive and fast-talking, Arcade is a technological whiz who knows how to manage his money and who is always looking for a new game to entertain himself with. His quirky sense of honour makes him an ally almost as often as he is a foe.
Name: Jacob Lowenstein
First appearance: December 11, 2004
Family: Ira Lowenstein (father-deceased), nephew
Jacob Lowenstein is the only son of penny arcade magnate Ira Lowenstein. Ira had been involved in entertainment for years, funding sideshows, pinball strips and circuses. Jacob was an electronics genius, who enrolled in MIT at the age of 16 and graduated with a double doctorate in robotics and electronic engineering. One day in 1977, in a bowling alley in Peducah, Ira watched four teenagers pour close to forty dollars in quarters into a brand new Pong game. It struck him, and after speaking with his son, in four weeks, he had opened the very first Excelsior Arcade in Staten Island. Within five years, Ira owned thirty-five of them, from Detroit to San Diego. Jacob had made a deal to pay back the cost of his schooling by agreeing to work for his father for that time, serving as a roving manager and displaying an almost magical ability to fix the machines. It was Jacob that first started installing speeding levels to ramp the games up after certain levels and times to nigh-impossible speeds. He figured out that the faster you got people on and off the games, the better for him.
But Jacob was hardly happy serving as just his father's lackey. He began to recruit people in the arcades, and was soon distributing drugs in the darkened corners of the chain. He took his money and invested it, using his technical knowledge and uncanny instinct for entertainment to find developing stocks. As a result, Jacob's holdings included most major software companies, a respectable percentage of Microsoft, and massive double-blind holdings in the entertainment field.
Jacob and Ira had a major falling out in 1985, when Jacob had urged the selling of the highly lucrative chain. Ira resisted, not wanting to slay the goose that laid the golden eggs. Inside of twenty-four hours, Ira Lowenstein was dead of a massive heart attack, and his only son Jacob inherited the family business. Jacob immediately sold everything of the Excelsior arcades except the name itself to a conglomerate, pushing a substantial percentage of the sale money into a then little-known Japanese company called Nintendo. As Jacob predicted, Nintendo destroyed the arcade business, and he reaped enormous rewards from it.
Jacob took the majority of his profits, along with his substantial earnings and waited for the right investment, which came along in 1991 in Las Vegas. At the time, Las Vegas was suffering its worst year in history, with tourism at an all-time low and revenues equally down. Lowenstein invested an estimated 3.2 billion dollars into the strip, buying controlling stocks in two major hotel/casinos and a sizable percentage in four others. He, along with two other developers, stood at the bottom of a cycle they knew would come up again. His hotels were stripped away of the 1960s faded chic, and remade themselves into amusement parks. Vegas quickly switched from the mob-riddled gambling capital to a family vacation resort in months. The organized crime was still there, of course, and Jacob spent the next ten years solidifying his position as a player in it. His money silently made it's way into the lobby to legalize prostuition, he bankrolled several political figures to power, and crushed a few wise guys who thought that rules of the 70s still existed in the year 2000.
Lowenstein, or Arcade, as he's often called, has also spent millions on civic donations and grants, earning him political protection and excellent press from the city. The money he possesses is largely forgotten by him, considered a useful tool. Arcade's almost pathological fear is boredom, and even since a young man, his needs to alleviate that have grown increasingly imaginative and cruel. For years, the rumours of 'Murderworld', a sort of macabre theme park where you can pay to have your enemies kidnapped to and watch them challenge a series of death traps, have circulated around the underworld, and more than a few missing people are rumoured to have been victims of it.
Arcade's new fascination involves mutants, and he's put his considerable intellect into learning all he can about them. His newest and largest casino, the Excelsior Hotel opened for business Jan 10th, 2002, and incorporates high-tech creations of his to counter mutant powers and abilities. The threat of a telepath sharking the poker tables or a luck probability mutant shaking down the house is a big issue to the casinos, and considerable funds have gone to Congress to support the Mutant Registration Act. Arcade uses mostly brute force but effective methods to counter mutant powers. He's developed a sort of 'white-noise' generator for telepathy, which essentially 'blinds' any psions on the floors of his casino. He has neural spikes scattered throughout the building, which randomly cast out a high powered globe of sub-synaptic energy that 'rebounds' off X-positives, temporarily disrupting their powers, and a number of other surprises. His security team also incorporates mutants, although far weaker and far fewer then he'd like.
It was this new curiosity that allowed him to find out about William Stryker's plans, and his contacts managed to grab several files taken from the most secure areas of the mansion's computers by Stryker. Arcade did not tried to break the encryption yet because he was well aware that the heavily encrypted files were government property and highly dangerous. He had no quarrel with the X-Men, but enough members of the underworld were worried enough that they would pay a handsome sum for the intelligence. That sort of auction 'game' was Arcade's drug, and he set it for Dec 9th, 2004 to follow the 100th anniversary celebration of Las Vegas' link to the national railway system. The auction was prevented from happening when a group of Xavier's students and teachers stole the files back.
Over the next two years, Arcade spent millions trying to determine exactly what had happened that night. Thanks to some luck, he was finally able to isolate several members of the school on his video recordings, and using a combination of bribery and electronic wizardry, amassed a substantial body of evidence that tied many of the staff and students to the events that had led to the robbery of his casino. With this evidence, and some new information from Belladonna Boudreaux-LeBeau, Arcade was able to track down Remy LeBeau in New York, having identified him as the mastermind behind the theft. Arcade trapped him and Ororo Munroe, who was unlucky enough to be with him at the time, into a devil's bargain; participate in a sick and potentially lethal race to save the remaining members of the Lost Boys, without aid and ahead of numerous opposing teams, or face Arcade's legal and media assault on the school. Following their success, Arcade surprisingly agreed to have key memories of the theft removed telepathically from his mind.
Almost a half year later, Arcade would once again return, this time having rented out his twisted execution complex called Murderworld out to the Selene cultists headed by Heinrich Klar. Numerous members of the school were ambushed and trapped into Murderworld to die. However, Heinrich never told Arcade that children were amoung the intended victims. Furious, Arcade began to secretly manipulate his own world to help the people trapped there, and alerted the school to where they were being held. Murderworld's self-destruction once the hostages escaped destroyed any evidence that it ever existed.
Since then, Arcade has been particularly contrary in his habits. He assisted X-Force during the crisis caused by Zemo by sponsoring them in a high stakes poker tournament in which one of Zemo's henchmen was involved in. More recently, he had the New Mutants and their minders kidnapped and run through a seemingly lethal set of reality show inspired levels in his Murderworld, before offering the winners jobs as the leads in a corporately sponsored and broadcast superhero team reality show. When his offer was refused, he simply let them go without any further tricks.
In April 2013, Arcade found Artie Maddicks working the tables in his casino in Atlantic City, and the young man ended up working for him in order to pay back his debt until X-Force came in and rescued him.
Arcade is perpetually hyper and antsy, like an ADHD child. His red hair is going grey at the temples and receding slightly in the front. Arcade likes to talk, and more importantly, likes to hear himself speak. His manner throws people; his overty friendliness, homey bits of wisdom, and contant smile has made more than one Mafia don underestimate the diminutive Jew, normally to their own fatal error. Despite his almost ridiculous manner, Jacob Lowenstein is ruthless, vicious and cunning. His electronic genius isn't far behind the best in the field, and he understands how to play the game without being incriminated. Arcade does have a strange sense of honour and ethics. While seemingly willing to kill without compunction, he often engages in triades about social issues like education and health care. He's shown himself to be unwilling to hurt children, and has acted to help the X-Men on one occasion. Arcade feels bound to the rules of whatever game he's playing, and despite how weighted it might be in his favour, has yet to fail to honour his stakes when losing.
Following M-Day, Lowenstein 'retired' from Murderworld and his criminal life, focussing instead on legal business enterprises. In January 2017, at the opening of the Excelsior New York Tech Center, Lowenstein, as well as his various high-profile guests, was held hostage by Lester Verde, Lowenstein's former partner. The X-Men intervened and rescued the party, but Verde managed to escape. in April 2018, he officially handed the Arcade persona and the Murderworld concept to his nephew, Adam Lowenstein.
Socked by: Dex
PB: Dustin Hoffman
Both Arcade's image and manner are modeled to be a mixture of the original canon and Dustin Hoffman's character Winston King in the movie 'Confidence'
The Phase 1 plots involving Lowenstein still occurred in Phase 2, but specifics, such as which characters were involved, remain fuzzy for the purposes of not breaking the world. ;)