How do Operators make money?


By BlackKnight3000

8 months ago


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  • Latest reply 8 months ago by Mike_M
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    There are 83 posts in topic. You are on page 2 of 2.
    #51 8 months ago
    Quoted from Darkwing:

    Beer.

    Great idea. Bars never go broke and close.

    LTG : )

    #52 8 months ago
    Quoted from fattdirk:

    You'd think you could make money with pinball due to the high resale value of the machines even in routed condition. Also if you invest in a set of cliffys and just keep them clean they don't seem to get that much wear.

    They do not all hold value that is for sure! A guy in NZ has a HUO GoT premium he has been trying to sell and can't at 9k, he would have paid about 12.5k for. If you were operating it that means it would go for even less so something like the first 5k plays will get you to a break even point. Not a lot of incentive there!

    As much as I like new games I can't justify them from a business perspective I only buy them because I want them. If I was in this strictly for the money I would never buy NIB. Resale is better in other countries and with other titles but it can go very badly with some titles.

    #53 8 months ago
    Quoted from Luppin:

    It could be also done as in JM, where you are told some code or numbers (during the ad), that need to be remembered to achieve certain things during gameplay.

    We already have this with ad-based Type-In Captcha authentication.

    IMG_0944 (resized).JPG

    #54 8 months ago
    Quoted from FlippyD:

    Anyone with kids or nephews has seen how today's children will watch ad after ad after ad while playing their free phone/tablet apps.
    Why not try this model with a pinball machine? Ad sponsored. Game is free to play. Have to watch a 5-15 second ad in between each ball, then a 30-60 second ad in-between games.

    Multiball, brought to you by Budweiser!
    (Doesn't quite have the same ring as TAF SHOWTIME!!!!)

    #55 8 months ago
    Quoted from TimeBandit:

    Exhibit A, Your Honour, lol.

    Crime doesn't pay.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/outer-east/thieves-steal-a-rare-acdc-pinball-machine-worth-15000-from-a-bayswater-north-factory/news-story/dc49ef243041325a34c6d872532fa3a9

    Well maybe it does sometimes.

    Quoted from Homepin:

    Jonathan - you should have a look at a very unique place in Newcastle Australia - "Pizza & Pinball".
    I don't need to explain the place further - I truly and firmly believe it is a business that could easily be franchised and have said this to the owners many times over many years.
    Dad walks in with son (or not) - orders a pizza and has NOTHING to do for 15 minutes. Hey look at all these pinball machines......

    The third largest pizza franchisee in Australia, Eagle Boys went into voluntary administration last year and most of their franchised outlets were rebranded as Pizza Huts (the number two franchisee). If you aren't PH or the market leader here Dominos there really isn't enough elasticity in the market segment for a third major franchisee option.

    That's why so many of the single store independent pizza outlets here remain just that as the market is being controlled by two dominant players dealing in high volume, low cost product.

    That's also why Spooky is on the right track selling to the dominant end of the US pizza market.

    Now we just need to convince Don Meij to get interested in pinball down here in Australia and given how tech obsessed he seems to be in his company marketing strategy, a pinball machine that is at least trying to remain contemporary to the modern consumer would be the most likely successful scenario.

    #56 8 months ago
    Quoted from BlackKnight3000:

    BUT, if you made a "Destiny" pinball that was connected to the internet, players could come to the arcade, play the Destiny pinball, and achieve special engrams that they can ONLY get by playing the pin. Those engrams could then be transferred to their characters to play at home with. That same idea could be used with most games today, and would be a great way to get people to come into the arcades again.

    Hell of an idea.
    I don't know Destiny but I could imagine something similar with the GTA game series:
    - Connect to the GTA pinball machine via App (which is linked to your player account)
    - Get special items (weapons, baby) only available by playing the GTA Pinball.
    - back at home, these would be be available online to kick your online friends' asses with

    GTA is a hugely popular franchise. Why not take advantage of this and incorporate a pinball machine both into the game world (there already are video games that can be played within the game, imagine a playable pinball!) and real world?

    Jersey Jack, are you listening?

    #57 8 months ago
    Quoted from Luppin:

    Sounds like a good idea really! Well, in order to bring back pinball I mean of course. All lights should be off in attract mode: a non-attractive attract mode, only showing ads.. The ads stops when you begin playing. And as you said ads between balls and a minimum amount of time between games. Or even after 3 lock, before multiball starts. Ads coulb be custom made and somehow slightly linked to what's going on during the action! So you could make ads "interesting". It could be also done as in JM, where you are told some code or numbers (during the ad), that need to be remembered to achieve certain things during gameplay. And probably still the dear old coin slot for ad-free play..
    Wow.. Great idea!

    Wait a second, let's get back to thinking like players rather than thinking like operators... that sounds like HELL, and would ruin pinball just like developers ruined mobile gaming and console gaming with "freemium" games.

    #58 8 months ago

    Of course without ads is much better, no question. But we are talking about extreme measures to bring back pinball to new generations. Lets stop thinking as old players, and think like new players: they are used to fremium, its ruling, so it means that it appeals to the MAJORITY of people. The sophisticated minority or old school type (like me and you) can drop a coin and play ad free.

    #59 8 months ago

    One problem can arise: precedence. How many free games before letting the game to another player? Anyway, queues of people standing in front of a pinball machine would be exactly what we are looking for.

    #60 8 months ago
    Quoted from Luppin:

    Of course without ads is much better, no question. But we are talking about extreme measures to bring back pinball to new generations.

    and *not make them hate it*...

    You make it sound like they/we enjoy the ads!

    Money isn't the problem, quarters didn't magically disappear from teenagers' pockets, you have to change the game or draw them in - not just make it free. Pinball isn't dying because people are cheap.

    #61 8 months ago

    No, I make it sound like kids get away with ads if they can play for free.

    #62 8 months ago

    Anyway, is some producer is listening: why dont you just try the idea with an existing machine? Its needed to write some extra code and test the result on few locations. No need at all to create a new machine. Some work to be done, but not that much. It may be worthed trying and see what happens.

    #63 8 months ago
    Quoted from Luppin:

    Anyway, is some producers is listening: why dont you just try the idea with an existing machine? Its needed to write some extra code and test the result on few locations. It may be worthed trying and see what happens.

    For the extreme amount of wear and tear a pins are subject to on free play it wouldn't be worth it unless the ad revenue was in the $400-$500/mo neighborhood. Who would pay that much for ad space on a pinball display? I could be wrong, but this doesnt sound realistic to me.

    #64 8 months ago
    Quoted from fishbone:

    Hell of an idea.
    I don't know Destiny but I could imagine something similar with the GTA game series:
    - Connect to the GTA pinball machine via App (which is linked to your player account)
    - Get special items (weapons, baby) only available by playing the GTA Pinball.
    - back at home, these would be be available online to kick your online friends' asses with
    GTA is a hugely popular franchise. Why not take advantage of this and incorporate a pinball machine both into the game world (there already are video games that can be played within the game, imagine a playable pinball!) and real world?
    Jersey Jack, are you listening?

    Someone had a Gottlieb Hollywood Heat at with an alternate GTA translite in it at the Pintastic show this past year.

    » YouTube video

    #65 8 months ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    Someone had a Gottlieb Hollywood Heat at with an alternate GTA translite in it at the Pintastic show this past year.
    » YouTube video

    They were a Pinsider & documented it on a thread they made somewhere around here.

    #66 8 months ago
    Quoted from NorCalRealtor:

    For the extreme amount of wear and tear a pins are subject to on free play it wouldn't be worth it unless the ad revenue was in the $400-$500/mo neighborhood. Who would pay that much for ad space on a pinball display? I could be wrong, but this doesnt sound realistic to me.

    Thats the point, its needed to check the numbers. The idea may work, but also the numbers have to be reasonable. No idea how much it could be asked for this rather unusual type of advertising. Although in some locations it could work. Of course this is just an idea, but maybe worthed exploring.

    #67 8 months ago

    Another idea, with or without ads: pinball happy hours. From 18 to 20 free play.. People get the taste... Then you pay.

    #68 8 months ago
    Quoted from Luppin:

    Another idea, with or without ads: pinball happy hours. From 18 to 20 free play.. People get the taste... Then you pay.

    A number of pinball locations do this type of thing regularly. It usually isn't a happy hour but a specific night of the week / month.

    #69 8 months ago
    Quoted from oohlou:

    A number of pinball locations do this type of thing regularly. It usually isn't a happy hour but a specific night of the week / month.

    And does it help the location? Does it expand the number of people going to play dropping quarters?

    #70 8 months ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    Someone had a Gottlieb Hollywood Heat at with an alternate GTA translite in it at the Pintastic show this past year.
    » YouTube video

    Very good for starters. ^^
    Anyway, I think there's so much material in the GTA world that could be used in a pinball machine. Include the sardonic puns and stabs at popular culture and we'd have a fun pin that possibly appealed to a broader audience.

    #71 8 months ago

    On the video game front, could pins be themed after yet to be released titles? COD 19, GTA 12, or whatever those are on now. Get early access under NDA (like SW EP1) and get the game ready. Part of the attract mode and match sequence are marketing ads for the title. The game is on wifi and can report the number of ads played and get paid passed on it. Once the title releases the ads/campaign stops after X days/weeks. Put a camera on it so there is proof that somebody was actually playing (and in a public location) and so the billing can be proven legit or not.

    And to the original question; If you are starting in 2017 you are doing it wrong. I started late 2015 with a few games I had bought over the few previous years. Nothing blockbuster, but they play nicely. The cost of those games, compared to the rate I can charge per play has a much better ROI % than a NIB with an appropriate rate per game. I have a GB that I bought NIB and was a very early (launch party) owner. The game did great for the first 3 months and then dropped a decent amount. Now it's a constant earner, but at a rate that would take forever to pay for itself. It may be a while before I decide to get a new game. I want an AS, but I don't need one. We have a BM66 close enough that I can play from time to time. We are growing though, and System 11's offer a really good bang for your buck.

    #72 8 months ago
    Quoted from Luppin:

    Another idea, with or without ads: pinball happy hours. From 18 to 20 free play..

    I'd be careful of that one. People will only come in then when it's free. You won't see them when they have to pay.

    LTG : )

    #73 8 months ago
    Quoted from NorCalRealtor:

    For the extreme amount of wear and tear a pins are subject to on free play it wouldn't be worth it unless the ad revenue was in the $400-$500/mo neighborhood. Who would pay that much for ad space on a pinball display? I could be wrong, but this doesnt sound realistic to me.

    Personally don't like the idea of ads, but... one possibility is that ads could bring in revenue when not being played. Occupancy sensors could augment that for data points (i.e., are people even nearby?).

    The problem with ads for gameplay is that the benefit is in scale, like having thousands or millions of users that are bringing their device so no capex on the hardware. Also, on pinball machines, the ad network wouldn't really know much about you compared to your phone (think about how much google and Facebook know about you, and that drives up the ad revenue), so the eCPM would likely be low. Suppose you have an eCPM if $1, you'd need to show a thousand ads to earn that $1. If you could cram 10 ads in a single game somehow on average, and want to bring in $1, you'd need an eCPM of $100, which is ludicrously high and not attainable.

    #74 8 months ago
    Quoted from Bugsy:

    Not to be too nosey, but can you give us some figures on the amount of games played on some of your pins, and the price it costs to play them? That may give us some insight as to how long it takes to recoup the initial cost of the game.

    Nearly all of my pins have an annual return between 40% and 70%. That includes location split, but does not include the cost of parts or my time. The way I look at it, that's a hell of a lot better than most other safe investments*...but I wouldn't do it if I didn't love pinball.

    Those numbers are for my best location (main pinball destination in my city), and it brings in 4-5x more per pin, per day than my other location.

    * (When you factor in parts and maintenance, (and possibly even if you don't) pinball has the worst ROI of all coin op devices from what I can tell. Pool tables, skee ball, jukeboxes, and video games are all significantly more profitable).

    #75 8 months ago

    Operating pins at single game locations are a complete waste of time unless you are getting at least $300 a month (your cut) out of it.

    Locations with multiple games in them in big cities that have a following is really the only way I think money can be made but you need to work for it keeping the games playing well.

    That's it. That's how it works.

    #76 8 months ago

    One of fundamentals of earning money with modern pinball machines is either owning the location they are placed, or negotiating a 100% return when the game is "new" with the justification to an owner that it will increase patrons inside the specific business. 50/50 splits for operators are long gone, unless the operator wants to go bankrupt in most locations in the United States.

    Remember I am speaking about new games, not games that are old inventory and were paid for over 20 years ago.

    #77 8 months ago
    Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

    One of fundamentals of earning money with modern pinball machines is either owning the location they are placed, or negotiating a 100% return when the game is "new" with the justification to an owner that it will increase patrons inside the specific business. 50/50 splits for operators are long gone, unless the operator wants to go bankrupt in most locations in the United States.
    Remember I am speaking about new games, not games that are old inventory and were paid for over 20 years ago.

    I agree 100% on the 100% split. I put a little back for bar tabs but those go to players as promotions so the location gets cash and I get happy customers. They bring people in and that is where the location gets their money.

    #78 8 months ago

    I don't know how you can pull off a 100% split - if I did that many bar owners with half a brain would SHOP AROUND with the competition, mind you I am talking about being in a BIG city with a competitive pinball scene. If you have a good earning location and the owner knows anything about vending, and there are other operators around that also place pinballs, 100% is a pipe dream unless you are in a two bit town....... (and 100% earnings in most two bit towns would be far less than getting 60/40 in a place that has a competitive pinball scene.

    I get 60/40, but my locations earn pretty alright.

    So the way I see it - getting 100% earnings, it's possible - but your location isn't really a pinball destination and probably doesn't earn much......if the location did earn well the bar owners would expect some of the drop...

    Our pinballs are also $1 a play 3 plays for $2

    #79 8 months ago

    Helps if you are in a smaller place I guess. There are three of us operating in my city we don't really go after each others business, it would be a bad thing in the end for each of us. One does pay back to the location and I have told customers that when they asked me for a split, they can go with him if they really want a split. I think he only does 30% though. The proposition that I offer is I will rotate games regularly and keep them in top shape. Works for me and the location as it attracts people wanting good games customers know mine are in good shape and that makes money for me in coin drop and the location in drinks/food.

    #80 8 months ago

    for most of us it's a labor of love, a way to help pay for games. my GB and ST Pros will earn back their initial cost in about 18 months, as will the TAF i picked up. SMB will pay for itself in a little over a year. these are in bar/beercade locations where i am one of several operators, and takes into account my time and parts. now, being that i have no guarantee that i will have these slots indefinitely i pay cash for games out of the revenue from my current machines so if my games are suddenly out on the street i'm not rolling in debt and no way to pay it.

    i also operate video games and for the most part these earn back much faster. a cheap Tetris was paid for in the first month on location. Area 51 has covered it's purchase price about eight or nine times now in 3 years, as has Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. the nice wide-body Mario Bros i picked up for a bar location will take about ten months to cover costs on. and i wish i had bought a Pacman Battle Royale as those are making bank at several of the barcades (of course i bought pins instead which bring in maybe a third of the revenue.)

    for the most part i have put the money made back into more games, though this may come to an end as i run out of locations to place them and time to cover anywhere new anyway. the overall income isn't even a decent fraction of my income from my "real" job and i'd never want to rely on it, but it's a great way to pay for machines.

    that being said, in addition to the myriad of collector-operators like myself, there are still a few "old school" operators in the area who make a living with their games, though unlike us they have prize and redemption games as well. not being privy to their books, i'd hazard a guess that's the revenue that most keeps them in business.

    #81 8 months ago
    Quoted from mc300baud:

    for most of us it's a labor of love, a way to help pay for games. my GB and ST Pros will earn back their initial cost in about 18 months, as will the TAF i picked up. SMB will pay for itself in a little over a year. these are in bar/beercade locations where i am one of several operators, and takes into account my time and parts. now, being that i have no guarantee that i will have these slots indefinitely i pay cash for games out of the revenue from my current machines so if my games are suddenly out on the street i'm not rolling in debt and no way to pay it.
    i also operate video games and for the most part these earn back much faster. a cheap Tetris was paid for in the first month on location. Area 51 has covered it's purchase price about eight or nine times now in 3 years, as has Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. the nice wide-body Mario Bros i picked up for a bar location will take about ten months to cover costs on. and i wish i had bought a Pacman Battle Royale as those are making bank at several of the barcades (of course i bought pins instead which bring in maybe a third of the revenue.)
    for the most part i have put the money made back into more games, though this may come to an end as i run out of locations to place them and time to cover anywhere new anyway. the overall income isn't even a decent fraction of my income from my "real" job and i'd never want to rely on it, but it's a great way to pay for machines.
    that being said, in addition to the myriad of collector-operators like myself, there are still a few "old school" operators in the area who make a living with their games, though unlike us they have prize and redemption games as well. not being privy to their books, i'd hazard a guess that's the revenue that most keeps them in business.

    Thanks for sharing. Being that your equipment is in bar/barcade environments, how much are you experiencing spilled beers, vandalism, coin door break-ins, stuff like that?

    I have some pins in an arcade where there is none of that, but the revenue is just so-so.

    #82 8 months ago
    Quoted from wiredoug:

    hey i didnt name anyone.. but it rings more than one bell doesnt it

    It does.

    #83 8 months ago

    Visiting a "Family Entertainment Center" today to take my son to a birthday party really drove home the futility of making money routing pinball machines. The Jurassic Park and Aliens hi-def video games there were played non-stop for the two hours I was there- probably made more in 2 hours than many pins would make in a couple of days; save for a pin or retrocade themed location.

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