(Topic ID: 344700)

New arcade: Free play vs. coin drop

By Coz

9 months ago


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    Topic poll

    “New arcade: Free play vs. coin drop”

    • Coin Drop- coin mechs and bill acceptor 41 votes
      42%
    • Free play- one price for entry and free play 38 votes
      39%
    • Go for it!!! 3 votes
      3%
    • You’re crazy- don’t open your own arcade 16 votes
      16%

    (98 votes)

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    There are 73 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 2.
    #51 9 months ago
    Quoted from PanzerKraken:

    Seen lot of coin drop places with machines in bad shape, and vice versa. Depends on how well they are maintained, which is a big business decision also for folks to consider, you will want techs on hand all the time who can keep machines going and maintained.
    Another factor is how open you are, lot of the best free play pins I've seen tend to be in places that are 18-21+ only typically, keeping the kids away from the machines.

    I agree. Thankfully the operators around me are really good about maintaining their games, but i have seen some dreadful condition games on coin-op at other places.

    The free play places near me are all ages and get played constantly which makes maintenance that much harder when those games are getting 20X the play of the coin-op locations.

    #52 9 months ago

    If you are ok with making little no money at all, I say go for it. This comes from personal experience and actually having to maintain games at multiple locations for a number of years. If all you have is games in a very small town, you will struggle hard to consistently make 1K per month after rent and expenses. But for someone just trying to break even and doing it for the fun of it, then you don’t really need to ask here. Keep expectation super low and you can never be disappointed. Also, it’s a LOT more work than you think. You better have one or two additional people in mind to help you or you will have zero spare time. Before you know it you have employees and have to make a schedule and answer insurance and liability questions like… “are all you games insured against theft in your lease?” sounds like a good time right?

    #53 9 months ago

    Coin drop but tokens. Change machine nowadays can take credit cards for the token machines.

    #54 9 months ago
    Quoted from Coz:

    I have been pondering this decision for about 5 years: opening my own arcade.
    There is a great location with low rent half a mile from my home. Lots of free parking and easy access. I want to start small with about 20-25 games and go from there. Plenty of room for growth at this location. I’m in Virginia, so no alcohol/no bar without also having a restaurant. So just arcade games, pinball etc.
    One of my biggest problems is deciding to go with the “Free play” pay one price for entry such as $10…or do I have a change machine and just do coin drop with no entry charge. I understand both ways have their own pros and cons. Just wanted to see what you have experienced and recommend.
    I have a friend who has a free play arcade about 30 miles away who loves that approach.
    I appreciate all input, opinions and advice.

    Ive done this and pay one price works best. Coin drop is a hassle, the coin machine requires constant attention, dirty shit coins constantly jam, plus theres alway going to be some asshole trying to rob you

    #55 9 months ago

    I go to our great pinball place, Pinball Garage and see a really broad range of ages and interests playing this Beer Pong arcade. Man it’s constantly getting used. Of course I’m playing the pins.

    https://www.egametablesports.com/products/valley-dynamo-jet-pong-home-version?currency=USD&variant=42530159034567&stkn=87d3a1cda10a&network=g&device=m&keyword=&campaign=11914686940&adgroup=pla-293946777986&gbraid=0AAAAADsReCyEm8kN1oSNrj7AxmfAk_r8C&gclid=CjwKCAjwyY6pBhA9EiwAMzmfwXOmdVVFQVX848-JgZMCxsGGItaIX8xolP0D0h4NJGTcrWz6Oe9H_hoCGzQQAvD_BwE

    28972373-769C-4092-A185-32239BDFEFC3 (resized).jpeg28972373-769C-4092-A185-32239BDFEFC3 (resized).jpeg
    #56 9 months ago

    Do you need it to make money or are you looking for a write off, hobby, passion project kind of thing (just don't want to lose too much)?

    Quoted from Coz:

    To make a fun place for people to enjoy games. It wouldn’t be open all day every day. Have a few people that can help out too.
    Obviously, I’m in the planning stages. Nothing is final. Just picking the brain of fellow pinsiders to get their opinions and advice.

    #57 9 months ago

    Not advising you one way or the other on actually opening a place, too many factors there.

    As an experienced player I much prefer coin drop because, duh, I spend less money on an average outing. But for a family friendly arcade + one of the only pinball spots in a small town, entry fee makes way more sense to me. You're going to introduce more people to pinball this way, you're going to make your arcade more of a 'destination' instead of a stop-over, you're gonna keep your customers there for longer (selling more snacks + drinks), and you're going to get less complaints about your machines overall (along with the obvious no coin jams, way less time spent by an employee/your dad running around on a busy night).

    I would recommend staffing the place during all business hours though. Any time I've visited an unstaffed arcade, it feels like a lawless hell hole. Keeping someone there with an air of authority is critical to maintaining a pleasant vibe for adults.

    #58 9 months ago

    From a long time retailer , ..IF ..you decide to go the 'Freeplay /$10 option then MAKE SURE you advertise that on the outside of your venue to attract non pinheads . I see WAY too many retailers not advertise their biggest attribute & offer then wonder why no one is taking up the offer .

    #59 9 months ago
    Quoted from snyper2099:

    If you are ok with making little no money at all, I say go for it. This comes from personal experience and actually having to maintain games at multiple locations for a number of years. If all you have is games in a very small town, you will struggle hard to consistently make 1K per month after rent and expenses. But for someone just trying to break even and doing it for the fun of it, then you don’t really need to ask here. Keep expectation super low and you can never be disappointed. Also, it’s a LOT more work than you think. You better have one or two additional people in mind to help you or you will have zero spare time. Before you know it you have employees and have to make a schedule and answer insurance and liability questions like… “are all you games insured against theft in your lease?” sounds like a good time right?

    This is why I was asking about the goal..seems like a ton of work for no gain. To each their own. Glad to see people are willing to do it.

    #60 9 months ago

    coin drop for Pinball and Redemption
    Free play for arcade machines

    free play pinball machines can get beat up, especially in a family enviroment

    #61 9 months ago

    Coin drop. You lose replay and matches, two of the coolest parts of playing on location.

    Get a hot dog roticery and a popcorn machine so you can sell beer. There are quick and easy ways to sell food. Chips, chocolate bars, candy, candy machines etc.

    #62 9 months ago

    I think location matters, who are your customers? Are they coming to play at your place as a destination or are you catching them on a whim as they do other shopping?

    I was just a mall and it had an arcade in it. The ONLY price was all day, $25 for an adult, $20 for a kid. I was with my family, so it would have been $90. I went in an asked if I could just buy an 30 minutes or an hour for all of us and was flatly told no. We walked away.

    If the place was on coin drop or similar payment method I would have happily spent $20 to $30, but $90 was just too much for my taste. If the place was a destination for the family and we planned to spend an evening I may have felt different, but this place was in a mall with random shoppers going by. Perhaps the pricing model worked great for them, but it totally misses people like me who just want a quick diversion from retail shopping.

    I see a swipe card system that lets people put on a fixed amount of money or you could buy unlimited plays for a period of time an ideal compromise.

    #63 9 months ago

    I remember one thread where I was thinking about the same thing and talking about buying a bowling alley in Idaho for dimes on the dollar. Rotordave made a great point about basically becoming a slave to the business and sacrificing your free time and life to sustain such an endeavor.

    What is your time worth to you? If you are bored and looking for something to do then-maybe(has to be killer location). Right now you have a small route and are happy. May branch out from there-try renting machines for parties, corporate break rooms, etc and avoid an actual brick and mortar that comes with a chain on your ankle. Without beer and liquor it may be a struggle to make monthly lease payments(especially with todays price per sq ft.). I think if I were to consider it-I would want to purchase the building as a long term investment and losses can be accounted for.

    #64 9 months ago

    I guarantee the people who voted for Free Play are not operators.
    There are very few places Ive been to that have a free play model in which the machines are kept in good condition, Its just a matter of math.
    You will need a very experienced tech in order to maintain the machines.

    #65 9 months ago

    Both of the arcades in my city are coin drop except they have a few "free play" periods each week.

    http://www.houseoftarg.com/concert-listings-events/arcade-nite-no-bands-free-play-game-on-oct-2023

    #66 9 months ago

    If you need a “club” for alcohol sales without food. Charge $20 for club membership per year. Then coin drop for games. Vending machines for pop and snacks. You could even have a 21+ vip section for “club members” with tables and a bar.

    #67 9 months ago

    Side point... get a photo booth. Those things do insane numbers at our best locations (chain of barcades on coin drop in SoCal)

    #68 9 months ago
    Quoted from fuzz:

    I guarantee the people who voted for Free Play are not operators.
    There are very few places Ive been to that have a free play model in which the machines are kept in good condition, Its just a matter of math.
    You will need a very experienced tech in order to maintain the machines.

    This is so true. I've only been to one free play arcade that charged $10 at the door and over half the machines were out of order or played like shit.

    #69 9 months ago

    Thank you everyone for your input! I’m still in the planning stages of opening my own place.

    In the meantime, a location in town wants about 10-15 games for a mini arcade , so I will focus on that in the next couple months!

    #70 9 months ago

    I have seen locations that are a mix. You pay your $15 to enter and all games are free except. Their exception list was usually something big and new and also crane machines and i would also charge for the Boxer machine. Skee ball is also another possiblility to charge though it should be low.

    3 weeks later
    #71 8 months ago
    Quoted from Richthofen:

    Free play locations tend to be cursed with 4 player games unfinished because people spam the start button and don't understand how to play. I see a lot less of that when there's coin drop, even if its low like 50c a game.

    I can attest to this (from my last two visits to Cidercade Houston). I don't understand how difficult it could be to grasp two concepts:

    1. Press the start button once per player to start a new game;
    2. Only press the start button to start a new game.

    5 months later
    #72 69 days ago

    Some great discussion in this thread. I am in a similar position. I am planning on opening a small arcade with about 10 pins. I have decided on coin drop with no entry fee. I have taken my machines to plenty of events where they are on free play for multiple days.

    Too many instances of people starting four player games and then leaving after ball 1. This means I need to constantly go around and clear the credits.

    Too many instances of people (particularly kids) hogging the machine without giving anyone else a go. This means I need to be everyone's parent and tell them off.

    Too many instances of people (particularly kids) mashing the flipper buttons for 10 minutes with the ball sitting in the shooter lane. This means I need to do more maintenance.

    These things don't happen with coin drop. The machines will earn less money, sure. I am not planning on making any money so that's not a concern for me.

    #73 69 days ago

    We have an Arcade here in Cincy, called Arcade Legacy. He runs it with both...He used to have 3 separate locations, Arcade Legacy Bar Edition, Arcade Legacy (in a mall) and another smaller location that was in Northern KY. that was geared more to pinball, they held the KY State Championship there before it closed. He has now combined all his locations into 1 larger venue. He has arcades, pins, card/board games, consoles, as well as a sales/shop and bar with a restaurant. He opened them in sections. He does both, he has older arcades and pins that are pay one price and play them all, then he has newer pins in a "premium" area and charges .50 cents per game for them. He held the Ohio SCS and Women's SCS there this past January. I'm not sure but I think he's doing alright with this model and it seems to work. When I go there for tournaments, it's usually $5. or $10. for the tourney and all the pins are in it (or could be) but he usually has a selection of games for tourney play, some are free play and some are coin drop, it works and it balances out with both coin drop and free play. I know a lot of places are going to the card systems but I'm not a fan...you have to install the card readers and get cards...I'm just not a fan of them. They give me the Dave & Busters vibe and any D&Bs I've been to in the last 10 or so years is all ticket spitters and not a pin in sight...

    Phoebe

    There are 73 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 2.

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