(Topic ID: 71798)

How many of you guys operate games?


By sixsixtie

5 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 48 posts
  • 25 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 5 years ago by Atomicboy
  • Topic is favorited by 2 Pinsiders

You

Linked Games

No games have been linked to this topic.

    #1 5 years ago

    Just out of curiosity.
    How many?
    How many locations?
    What do you use to keep track of earnings, where machines are, repairs etc?

    #2 5 years ago

    I don't currently route anything. Although, I am trying to figure out how to go about doing so.

    #3 5 years ago

    We run a route of 12 machine in our town. The pins make more than any other non-redemption game.

    #4 5 years ago

    One..it makes very little, but that's ok. I basically have it there so my friends and I have a game to play when we go out, plus the owner really wants one there. I empty the box and usually drink it up right there. The games have been reliable, couple bulbs and switch's once in a while.

    #6 5 years ago

    Ours pull in about $20-$40 each per week (with the exception of one bar which plays the pins like mad).

    #7 5 years ago

    I do, but only as a favor for an arcade up the street that just wants a pinball. It's an eight ball on free play. Customers pay flat rate per hour or for all day play.

    #8 5 years ago

    Seven pins (soon to be a lot more)
    Four locations (soon to be five)
    Two cities (soon to be three)
    One vid

    Excel or similar spreadsheet

    Post edited by marcos : four is not five!

    #9 5 years ago
    Quoted from marcos:

    Four locations (soon to be four)

    Isn't 4 already 4?

    #10 5 years ago

    we do, we operate arcade game route for a living. not the best business to be in these days, nothing earns great for long term anymore.

    #11 5 years ago
    Quoted from Crash:

    Isn't 4 already 4?

    By most accounts, yes.

    I'll soon have five locations. I actually already do, but the business is not open yet. (Original post edited.)

    Finding the right location with good security and high foot traffic is key.

    I wouldn't want to try making a living off of operating, but as a side business, operating pins does very well.

    -Mark

    #12 5 years ago
    Quoted from Crash:

    Isn't 4 already 4?

    Crazy math skills

    #13 5 years ago
    Quoted from Captive_Ball:

    Crazy math skills

    Defraggin' my hard drive for thrills!

    -Mark

    #14 5 years ago

    I'm interested to learn what you all pull in, and how much maintenance/repairs costs are involved. The interest must be in the 90% range for everyone in the hobby where this has at the very least crossed their mind at one time or another, but the reality has been beaten in with many confirming it's a losing battle.

    #15 5 years ago

    One location, five pins, more soon. Excel.

    Very fun and rewarding hobby business. As a side bonus it allowed us to start a league. Only place to publicly play pinball in a city of 230K.

    #16 5 years ago

    I'd also be curious to know what the average amount made per month is on machines...

    How do you go about finding locations? Do you begin approaching locations and basically cold calling people?
    How much of a cut does the location get? Are gaming licenses expensive?

    #17 5 years ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    How much of a cut does the location get?

    The operator at the bowling alley I worked at had a 50/50 split on the coins in the cash box....they did it all right there at the desk when they came by once a week. Gameroom of 2 pins and 10 video games was pulling in between 400 and 700 a week. Not sure how much the pins brought in, but it was at least 10-20 bucks a week from me. This was in the late 90's

    #18 5 years ago
    Quoted from smokedog:

    One location, five pins, more soon. Excel.
    Very fun and rewarding hobby business. As a side bonus it allowed us to start a league. Only place to publicly play pinball in a city of 230K.

    Similar situation here, although there are other places to play in town, but not many, and they are usually poorly maintained. The metro area is about 150K.

    Since video gambling was legalized in Illinois almost exactly a year ago, our league lost most of its public places to play, and I got tired of hosting league at my house every other week. (There are very few collectors in town.) So, it was almost out of necessity that I began to operate.

    It took me many months of persistently knocking on doors before I found my first location that the existing op wasn't already in, who has a near monopoly in the entire county. After that, word of mouth got me a few more locations recently.

    The great thing about this is, in addition for places for our league to play, it has exposed a lot of people to pinball for the first time. As I have mentioned before, it's these new people that are playing the games, not our leaguers, which really surprised me. Without the random new people patronizing my machines, operating wouldn't be worth the effort.

    -Mark

    #19 5 years ago

    I have two at one location along with a hand full of video games. Star Trek and Stargate.

    #20 5 years ago

    My situation is similar to marcos'. We lost the place that we gathered for our monthly tournaments. I really enjoyed the events and wanted to get them going again. Fortunately there is a locally owned pizza restaurant about a mile from my home. I finally felt I was at the point where I could handle putting games in that location and keep them maintained to high standards. So I approached the owners and they were receptive. We've been having monthly tournaments since July of 2012 and it has been a lot of fun.

    I've had a few people ask me about putting games in other locations. No location owners have asked me, just individuals that would like to see more pins out in the wild. My standard answer is that unless it is close to me, I can't/won't do it. It simply isn't worth it for me to drive all over the metro area to service pins. Don't get me wrong, I could do it, but something would suffer in the end. Meaning that if I tried to have games all over, they'd be broken and dirty because I simply couldn't maintain them to the level they should be. Pins just don't bring in enough to justify all the driving and time needed. I'd have to give up my in-home repair business and probably end up making less money. I'd rather do one location really well than a bunch of locations that are piss poor.

    #21 5 years ago

    I operate games out of my basement...unfortunately my 4 year old son is the only customer.

    #22 5 years ago
    Quoted from flashinstinct:

    I operate games out of my basement...unfortunately my 4 year old son is the only customer.

    He asks you for money, you give it to him to play pins...you collect the money from the coin box....better than taking him to an arcade...and you don't spend a hundred bucks in tickets to buy a 10 dollar alarm clock

    #23 5 years ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    I'd also be curious to know what the average amount made per month is on machines...
    How do you go about finding locations? Do you begin approaching locations and basically cold calling people?
    How much of a cut does the location get? Are gaming licenses expensive?

    It took many months of knocking on doors to find a business that:
    1) had the space
    2) was interested
    3) didn't already have coin-op equipment (under an annual exclusivity contract with the only op in the county)

    I simply walked around the downtown areas, and drove around others. I also asked a lot of people that worked at bars and such, and patronized many establishments in the process.

    The split is generally 50/50, although at an extremely slow location, I try for more...or if I am bringing in a brand new machine.

    Licensing varies by state/province/county/municipality. In nearby Indiana, most places there are no licenses/taxes/fees. In Illinois, it's $30/year per machine, and sometimes more if the municipality has its own amusement device tax.

    A lot of people here are reluctant to share revenue info, but I'll give you a general idea. The best locations gross $400-$500/month per machine. The worst, $10-$60/month per machine. Location (and foot traffic) is everything. Having a new machine is fun, but not necessary. I operate everything from early solid-state (Mata Hari) to a new Stern (X-Men Magneto LE). My System 11's can sometimes keep pace with the brand new Sterns, at half the price per play.

    -Mark

    #24 5 years ago
    Quoted from Atomicboy:

    I'm interested to learn what you all pull in,

    That's a little personal don't you think ?

    LTG : )

    #25 5 years ago
    Quoted from stangbat:

    I've had a few people ask me about putting games in other locations. No location owners have asked me, just individuals that would like to see more pins out in the wild. My standard answer is that unless it is close to me, I can't/won't do it. It simply isn't worth it for me to drive all over the metro area to service pins. Don't get me wrong, I could do it, but something would suffer in the end. Meaning that if I tried to have games all over, they'd be broken and dirty because I simply couldn't maintain them to the level they should be. Pins just don't bring in enough to justify all the driving and time needed. I'd have to give up my in-home repair business and probably end up making less money. I'd rather do one location really well than a bunch of locations that are piss poor.

    Yes! Same here, other than the fact I was approached by the business owners after landing the first location. All my machines are within a few miles of each other, in three "clusters." My day job is in the middle of these areas, and my house is in one corner. I wouldn't want to be much farther out, for the same reasons you mention above. My next location will have many machines in one place.

    If this gets any larger, I will need help, no doubt. It's hard finding good, competent help I can trust. The only guy in our league I could count on moved away, and everyone else either has no interest, or no time.

    -Mark

    #26 5 years ago
    Quoted from Atomicboy:

    I'm interested to learn what you all pull in, and how much maintenance/repairs costs are involved. The interest must be in the 90% range for everyone in the hobby where this has at the very least crossed their mind at one time or another, but the reality has been beaten in with many confirming it's a losing battle.

    Maintenance is fairly minimal on new machines, but not bad for older ones, provided you shop it out and address any issues, first. (That's not to say you won't have issues with a brand new machine, as others have pointed out!)

    When I first bring an old machine on location that has been in my collection for a while, little stuff breaks the first few days or weeks. Broken wires off flipper coils seem to be the most common problem, followed by screws that loosen up and sometimes fall on the playfield. Coin jams, too, although I have found that buying brand new quarter mechs saves a lot of headaches.

    My most expensive repair so far, is for a replacement Wolverine figurine, at the bargain price of $99; the original started to fall apart after six months, and was on its last legs (or arms/waist/back) two months later. This was a poor design for a bash toy, especially if it has to be replaced every six months at $99 each time!

    The Aux board failed after two months, but fortunately, Stern replaced it under warranty, and it was a known issue/design flaw.

    -Mark

    #27 5 years ago
    Quoted from marcos:

    Broken wires off flipper coils seem to be the most common problem

    Before you put a game on the street, consider removing wires from coils, put heat shrink tubing on, put wire back on and then shrink the heat shrink tubing over the lug and wire.

    Save yourself a lot of service calls.

    LTG : )

    #28 5 years ago

    If you buy a sticker for your game, are they transferable? For example, you take one game off and put one game on. If so, how would you mount the sticker on the game to allow for that. Good thread!

    #29 5 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    Before you put a game on the street, consider removing wires from coils, put heat shrink tubing on, put wire back on and then shrink the heat shrink tubing over the lug and wire.
    Save yourself a lot of service calls.
    LTG : )

    I have seen a few games like this before...now I know why!

    Thanks!

    -Mark

    #30 5 years ago
    Quoted from catboxer:

    If you buy a sticker for your game, are they transferable? For example, you take one game off and put one game on. If so, how would you mount the sticker on the game to allow for that. Good thread!

    I don't know the details, but I believe they are not transferable.

    The registration form also wants to know where the machine is displayed (address) so I'm not sure if you're technically allowed to move that machine to another location, either.

    So I don't ruin the machines with adhesive and old decals, I typically try to find a spot on the playfield glass that is not obscuring much, usually around the apron. Then you have a choice of using the decal's sticky backing on top of the glass, or adhering it from underneath, via clear adhesive/glue, or clear tape. I'm guessing the State wants you to use the permanent adhesive on the decal, so it can't be removed/relocated. They do mention the decal must be clearly displayed for potential inspection, or you risk a fine or confiscation. Each decal has a serial number and bar code.

    -Mark

    #31 5 years ago

    Well, I am officially gonna look for a location to place a pin.

    #32 5 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    That's a little personal don't you think ?
    LTG : )

    I guess for some, other's answered with ballpark figures. I've seen you answer this before in RGP...

    Marcos:

    Are you Mark from Marco Amusements?

    #33 5 years ago

    Very informative thread. I know the owners of a local record/movie collectible shop and they have asked me if I would be interested in putting a machine or two in their retail location. It is located in a part of town with a lot of foot traffic and is a spot where people hang out just as much as they shop. I have been hesitant to take up their offer because I don't know how much abuse the machines would likely take. I am also clueless as to how much maintenance would be involved and whether it would even be worth my time. It would be easily be a win-win for them as I would surely spend every quarter I made on their records.

    #34 5 years ago
    Quoted from Atomicboy:

    I guess for some, other's answered with ballpark figures. I've seen you answer this before in RGP...
    Marcos:
    Are you Mark from Marco Amusements?

    Sometimes, I wish.

    I don't live in SC...not even close. LTG can vouch for me, I think.

    -Mark

    #35 5 years ago
    Quoted from jazzmaster:

    Very informative thread. I know the owners of a local record/movie collectible shop and they have asked me if I would be interested in putting a machine or two in their retail location. It is located in a part of town with a lot of foot traffic and is a spot where people hang out just as much as they shop. I have been hesitant to take up their offer because I don't know how much abuse the machines would likely take. I am also clueless as to how much maintenance would be involved and whether it would even be worth my time. It would be easily be a win-win for them as I would surely spend every quarter I made on their records.

    This is not quite the same thing, as you would somehow have to be reimbursed by the owners or charge per play, but vintage vinyl venues and pinball parlors go hand in hand, I think:
    http://www.pinballnews.com/sites/loganhardware/index.html

    If the machines are in a secured area where there is always an attendant or clerk present, I think you're pretty safe, especially if they care about pinball. And remember, you don't have to route your prettiest A-titles or NIB Sterns, either!

    -Mark

    #36 5 years ago

    Just curious of those that route games, how many of you have insurance?

    #37 5 years ago

    One location with 15 pins, changing that down to 13 in another month or so. A couple of other locations on the horizon, just not sure I want to commit to that yet.

    Okay, I don't have much experience as a hobby operator, just starting my 4th year at this point. In that time, here are some things that I have learned:

    --Pins are going to break, all of them. Newer games break just as often, some more often, than older ones
    --Some older games can earn just as well as newer ones
    --50/50 split doesn't really work anymore with the rising costs of maintenance, insurance--just went up another 15%, and transportation
    --Imonex coin mechs don't jam near as often as any other
    --Destination locations should have a change machine or DBAs on the games, a change machine will increase revenue
    --LE pins won't earn any more than a pro model after the first few months, though it looks like WOZ may be an exception to that rule
    --Destination locations still need a pull, be it leagues, tournaments, something to draw people in to play
    --Foot traffic in a location is one of, and may be the biggest driver to more revenue, beating out game selection and game condition.
    --There are those players that will complain, but dollar per play pinball is necessary for new games, especially at a 50/50 split
    --Accepting a location 40 minutes from the house is a bad idea, even if it is family

    I have seen revenue continue to increase year after year. That said, the revenue is nothing to shout about after taking all costs and taxes into consideration. By all means, if you want to be a hobby operator, go ahead and do it because you enjoy pinball and bringing pinball to the public. Just do so with your eyes wide open.

    #38 5 years ago

    BrianBannon - nice post. Thanks for sharing the info.

    #39 5 years ago
    Quoted from tb0ne:

    how many of you have insurance?

    I have general business liability. It covers my in-home repair business and my location games.

    Games are covered under the business's insurance, other people's property. Ask about the business's policy when you are discussing placing games in a location.

    I really don't have much to add in addition to what marcos and BrianBannon have said. Only thing I'll say is you may think you have your games bullet proof and tight. You're in for a surprise! You never realized how much stuff can break and where balls can get stuck, etc. And think of all those little annoying things that happen when you play your game such as a ball hang or something being intermittent but not a big annoyance. Well, on location those things become a big deal. You really need to go through things with a fine tooth comb so that you won't be going back to an game that's been out of order.

    #40 5 years ago

    Okay, I'll add more. If you do this, you need parts. You don't want a game down for days because a flipper link broke.

    You need every common flipper part for every type of game you have. Shooter rods, you'll be surprised how many you have to replace. Springs, micro switches, leaf switches, pop rings, pop yokes, pop skirts, pop spoons, sling links, EOS switches, coils, connectors, screws, bolts, nuts, metal to cut and bend to make parts, super glue, tape, wire, zip ties, drop targets, stand up targets, power cords, coin mechs, piano wire. Every type of rubber you can think of. Fuses, you need every possible type and value you can think of. Have a welding shop available that is quick and good. A rivet press can be a lifesaver.

    If you have WMS/Bally games, an extra display driver board is a good idea. An extra PDB is a good idea. An extra power supply is a good idea if your game has a separate one. Shoot, an extra everything is a good idea. If your game is down, you make nothing!

    You need your tools organized and portable and you need them with you along with the parts. You need soldering/desoldering equipment, and it needs to be good. You need replacement parts for the soldering equipment. And I haven't even touched on the electronic parts you should have on hand.

    #41 5 years ago

    Interesting stuff guys, thanks for sharing.

    #42 5 years ago

    And make sure you bolt down the backbox on any WMS/Bally games. NEVER rely solely on the backbox latch.

    #43 5 years ago
    Quoted from BrianBannon:

    One location with 15 pins, changing that down to 13 in another month or so. A couple of other locations on the horizon, just not sure I want to commit to that yet.

    --

    Could you provide your locations-name or PM me please THX> ... Heading down your way soon.

    #44 5 years ago

    I had a few at work. Gottlieb's held up the best and rarely if ever broke. The williams ones were the ones always having issues, oh and my sega. If I was to throw them back on, I'd try to find another gottlieb. All the people really cared about was how fun it was to play, not the theme. Gladiators and waterworld were my best ones. But fish tales, checkpoint, lost world were meh. So really depends on your crowd. I only charged 25 cents, just to keep broken things fixed. Looking back, maybe 50 cents for old games and $1 for new is a okay deal.

    #45 5 years ago

    How successful have people been in negotiating a better split? Any tips to get it more in your favor? Opinions on what is possible?

    I have really been wanting to take the plunge locally (for fun) as there are very few locations worth visiting in town. I have a nice establishment less then a mile from my house and they have a regular hipish corporate 20-35 working crowd most days but are not much of a foot traffic location.

    They have no pins but do have darts and pool from a local operator that has given the OK for pinball to go there since they do not care to operate pins (they have a few but do not maintain them). The bar/restaurant owner really wants pins.

    My thoughts are that time would be best spent putting 4 pins in this one location (also makes per game city fees less and is goes down on a per game basis) as 4 pins could bring in players and I could also do a monthly league at the bar to help bring in people and generate some excitement. My feeling is that 2 pins are not worth driving to but 4 nice pins are worth the effort to many players?

    thoughts?

    #46 5 years ago

    I agree that you need a critical mass of pins to become a destination draw - 4 is a good minimum.

    There's a local bar in DC that's been trying to draw people in to weekly pin tournaments, but they only have 2 pins, and I don't think it's been very successful. If they had 4, there's the potential for a league branch there, but 2 precludes that, and it's easy for one of them to be down.

    #47 5 years ago

    I have got 50 pins in pubs . No video games over here . About 30 locations .

    1 week later
    #48 5 years ago

    A friend and I are thinking of testing the waters for this.

    I'm wondering what the best locations are, as in bars, laundromats, places where you have to wait such as mechanic shops, I don't know.

    I'm thinking of the latter two, as bars have their obvious risks, and I'm thinking pins would be perfect for when you have to wait somewhere.

    Promoted items from the Pinside Marketplace
    $ 5,799.00
    Pinball Machine
    Classic Game Rooms
    $ 299.00
    $ 5.00
    Playfield - Decals
    Doc's Pinball Shop
    $ 27.99
    Eproms
    Matt's Basement Arcade
    $ 48.00
    Cabinet - Other
    ModFather Pinball Mods
    $ 269.00
    $ 94.95
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    Super Skill Shot Shop
    From: $ 10.00
    Electronics
    Third Coast Pinball
    $ 70.00
    Gameroom - Decorations
    The Pinball Vault
    $ 12.00
    Electronics
    Yorktown Parts and Equip
    $ 48.00
    Cabinet - Other
    ModFather Pinball Mods
    $ 999.00
    Flipper Parts
    Mircoplayfields
    $ 45.95
    Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
    Hookedonpinball.com
    From: $ 16.95
    $ 90.00
    Lighting - Under Cabinet
    Rock Custom Pinball
    From: $ 22.95
    Playfield - Protection
    ULEKstore
    $ 50.00
    $ 21.00
    $ 99.00
    Cabinet - Shooter Rods
    ModFather Pinball Mods
    From: $ 15.00
    Apparel - Men
    Pinside Shop
    $ 10.00
    Playfield - Decals
    Pinball Haus
    $ 19.95
    Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
    ULEKstore

    Hey there! Got a moment?

    Great to see you're enjoying Pinside! Did you know Pinside is able to run thanks to donations from our visitors? Please donate to Pinside, support the site and get anext to your username to show for it! Donate to Pinside