So, we're thinking of starting an Arcade...

(Topic ID: 58416)

So, we're thinking of starting an Arcade...


By RadiatorLady

4 years ago



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  • 70 posts
  • 56 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 years ago by SteveP3
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    There are 71 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 4 years ago

    A couple of friends and I have talked for a long time about starting an Arcade in our town. Up until now, it's mostly been a pipe dream. Now, we've got a potential investor, and this may actually happen.

    In an ideal world, the arcade would be 100% pinball. But, due to the costs and interest, we'll probably start off with about four or five tables and fill the rest of the space with some good arcade cabinets. Here's where we finally come to my question:

    If you could only pick up a handful of pins for an arcade, which would you buy? Unfortunately we won't be picking up Monster Bash or Attack from Mars anytime soon, but I know there are some awesome mid-range tables out there. We're looking to spend somewhere between $1,000-$4,000 per table.

    There are also a couple tables hidden around town (Party Zone, Data East's Star Wars, and Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street) which we think we could pick up on the cheap and get restored without breaking the bank.

    Anyway. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    #2 4 years ago

    First, see if your town allows arcades.

    Many don't, or the yearly license is $100 for first machine, $200 for next, $400 for third, $800 for 4th.....

    #3 4 years ago

    Zoning and fees....

    #4 4 years ago

    High Speed II: The Getaway
    Braum Stroker's Dracula
    Funhouse

    Those are a couple off the top of my head that could be bought at a reasonable price that are decent enough to get repeat play from customers. Just make sure you don't over pay, especially the Funhouse. I've seen it recently for as little as $2100 in good shape, but as much as as $3800.

    #5 4 years ago

    Great project, I wish I could do something like that. For the pins, I would go for pin that most people would like: whirlwind, terminator 2, Jurassic park, tales from the crypt, funhouse, revenge from mars.

    #6 4 years ago

    Yeah the zoning and fee's. Then you may want to start it under a company/llc so you can get insurance and protection on them. Can you run it from out of someone else's store front, etc? What about taxes on that "income".

    Also how much will you need to make daily to keep the maintenance and lights up.

    The one's I've had that people actually really liked are the 90's Gottliebs. Waterworld was the most loved machine. So it will depend on your audience and who you attract. You'll need some A list to keep the "pin heads" in, but the B and C titles, even lower (just theme) to keep the random people. What about age groups? Will you serve alcohol, etc? If you want kids, have some kid friendly titles.

    JP
    TAF
    TZ
    acdc
    TF
    nascar
    I500
    FT
    BBH
    BSD

    could be good titles based on theme and your area.

    #7 4 years ago

    Already lots of great answers. Thanks, guys.

    Yeah, we're still in the super early stages of figuring everything out, and we know it ain't cheap. We're in talks with some other local business owners about the best plan of attack. We do plan on serving alcohol. There's nowhere for 20-somethings in our town to really "hang out" and have fun, or enjoy a few beers without being stuck in a bar or restaurant. So, I think it could be fairly successful.

    We're not looking to be big ol' rich business owners of course. Just make enough money to keep the doors open, the customers happy, and the pins rollin'.

    #8 4 years ago

    Have you taken the 4 hour Alcoholic Beverage Control class yet?

    Does a liquor license still take years to acquire?

    #9 4 years ago

    Hahah. As I said, we've barely even begun to get the ball rolling. There's a long road ahead. I just wanted some oPINions and suggestions on possible tables in the probably impossible (or at least improbable) future.

    #10 4 years ago

    Per a couple Ops I've spoken to, "Sterns earn" and require less upkeep on location than the older B/W stuff. Good luck!

    #11 4 years ago

    My understanding is that TZ was a dog when it was released, not sure if that would ring true in today's market, but food for thought.

    TAF & ACDC are proven money-makers on location from what I've been told.

    Try and pick machines that have good reliability history. Toys are nice, but the more toys a machine has the more there is that could potentially go wrong.

    Whatever machines you go with though try and take the time to service and clean them properly and regularly. Don't become the focus of a "OMG, you should see the torrid shape of this LOTR I just saw out in the wild at RadiatorLady's Big Ball Emporium..." thread.

    #12 4 years ago

    Get 720, Donkey kong and Dragons lair for arcades..
    Absolute musts.

    #13 4 years ago

    You should also invest in a crazy cutter machine or skill game that will get the dollars of the stupid fool who thinks he's hot shit, they make some bank which will help fund the pins. The arcade in my town has one and they roll in the dough from what I heard.

    Triumvirat is right on the ACDC as a moneymaker, xmen gets played a lot here aswell. The TAF has to be in good shape, otherwise its not good for business.

    #14 4 years ago

    Yeah, we're absolutely getting some skill games. Get some drunk guys on skeeball, and the arcade pays for itself. Thanks for the arcade advice, Riffbear. Like I said, any and all help rules. You guys are great.

    #15 4 years ago

    Fish Tales would be another good choice if you can find one in good shape. Really fast ball times if dialed in well.

    #16 4 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Have you taken the 4 hour Alcoholic Beverage Control class yet?
    Does a liquor license still take years to acquire?

    Hence the basement arcade.

    #17 4 years ago

    I never tried operating pinball machines, but as a general rule of thumb I think it's hard to go wrong with an "A" list title from a particular era that did well on route. Some examples:

    Black Knight
    High Speed
    Whirlwind
    Funhouse
    Terminator 2
    Addams Family

    #18 4 years ago

    I would start with location, what games kids would like more likely redemption machines. Being able to have games that there parents would want to play while there kids are playing ticket machines. So I guess the big question is do you want a family fun center or a place that targets older people. Good luck.

    #19 4 years ago

    here is a thought maybe like this place http://gallopingghostarcade.com/

    #20 4 years ago

    Tee'd Off is a great location game. Big $ maker.

    #21 4 years ago

    Best of luck with your Arcade, hope it all works out

    #22 4 years ago

    They may not be in that price range, or borderline, but I've thought about doing the arcade thing before, and it seems like Tron and AC/DC have been the least amount of maintenance trouble.

    #23 4 years ago
    Quoted from RadiatorLady:

    Already lots of great answers. Thanks, guys.
    Yeah, we're still in the super early stages of figuring everything out, and we know it ain't cheap. We're in talks with some other local business owners about the best plan of attack. We do plan on serving alcohol. There's nowhere for 20-somethings in our town to really "hang out" and have fun, or enjoy a few beers without being stuck in a bar or restaurant. So, I think it could be fairly successful.
    We're not looking to be big ol' rich business owners of course. Just make enough money to keep the doors open, the customers happy, and the pins rollin'.

    We just went through this process with getting an arcade setup in PA that opens in a couple weeks. I think it is important to make sure everyone understands your goals. If your purpose is purely to enjoy pinball and an arcade, that is great, but make sure everyone involved is crisp on that.

    Maintenance seems to be what drives most pinball arcades into disrepair so I would suggest having a solid plan for it. From what I have heard from other operators, keeping 10 machines 100% working in your basement is one thing but doing that in an arcade is a whole different scenario and takes a LOT of work.

    As others mentioned, make sure you know the rules on licences and taxes. In PA it is by township which meant some places were off the table when we started looking for a location. Liquor license around here cost more than commercial buildings, and kitchens are a huge amount of overhead, so we decided to partner with an established area bar and restaurant that had a nice list of craft brews (good beer was a priority for us!).

    "A" list pins are great if you can afford them. I'm putting my personal Monster Bash in our arcade but not with the intent of making any money on it, more that I want people to enjoy it. A lot of people with "A" list pins don't want them routed... so you need to find the right mix.

    Best of luck! Keep us posted on your progress.

    -Jay

    #24 4 years ago

    Little rock is a fine town to quote lutenit dan and yes FT is the shit and cheep, get one.

    #25 4 years ago

    I'd consider charging $2 admission. You can always lower/eliminate it but $2 will guarantee that people will spend at least that, and will possibly help keep them there a bit longer and spending a little more money.

    Video game-wise I would stick to the classics: Donkey Kong, Ms Pac, Galaga, Centipede, Tron and a few others. Sure there are better videogames but the average person is going to go for games that they know and are easy to play.

    Pinball-wise I would try to get at least one new machine like a Tron pro. I'd definitely go for DMD machines for the rest.

    #26 4 years ago

    I have no arcade experience, but I would think some good shooter games would make some money. The kind that you can just keep continuing if you keep pumping the quarters in. Area 51 or CarnEvil, were older ones that just keeps you feeding it quarters

    #27 4 years ago

    You might want to talk to DreamTR on here. He runs Game Galaxy and has 3 locations in 2 states, so he might know more about laws. He does the "pay a flat rate per time limit" instead of quarters to get around a few things, if that's helpful.

    #28 4 years ago

    RadiatorLady,
    I am in Little Rock as well, would love to help you out with your idea, I have been thinking about starting an arcade here in LR too, send me a PM and lets talk about some things.

    #29 4 years ago
    Quoted from Riffbear:

    Get 720, Donkey kong and Dragons lair for arcades..
    Absolute musts.

    if so, than you need 2 more : Galaga & Tempest

    #30 4 years ago
    Quoted from blondetall:

    You might want to talk to DreamTR on here. He runs Game Galaxy and has 3 locations in 2 states, so he might know more about laws. He does the "pay a flat rate per time limit" instead of quarters to get around a few things, if that's helpful.

    Pay a flat rate per minute for what?

    #31 4 years ago
    Quoted from tslayer71:

    Pay a flat rate per minute for what?

    $5 per 60 minutes of play time, for example. All machines set to freeplay. Not sure how one would enforce that though.

    #32 4 years ago

    Good luck with the liquor licensing.

    #33 4 years ago
    Quoted from Triumvirat73:

    $5 per 60 minutes of play time, for example. All machines set to freeplay. Not sure how one would enforce that though.

    Ahhhh thanks. Good idea unless there's a bunch of folks playing... Might not get to play a lot if your waiting in line

    #34 4 years ago
    Quoted from RipleYYY:

    if so, than you need 2 more : Galaga & Tempest

    for a vid game tempest rocks

    #35 4 years ago

    I think it's $4 for a half hour, $6 for one hour, $10 for all day. The one near me has bracelets you wear indicating that you've paid, and they tell you when your time is up. That way he doesn't have to pay fees for coin operated or pay a percent of the earnings.

    #36 4 years ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Have you taken the 4 hour Alcoholic Beverage Control class yet

    I attempt that class daily.

    #37 4 years ago
    Quoted from RadiatorLady:

    There are also a couple tables hidden around town (Party Zone, Data East's Star Wars, and Freddy: A Nightmare On Elm Street) which we think we could pick up on the cheap and get restored without breaking the bank.

    A couple of things about that sentence concerns me. First, by 'around town' I assume you mean on location? If so, no matter what condition they're in, taking games from one location to start another location isn't a net positive for the hobby.

    Secondly, you mention getting them restored. If you're going to have more than one pin in your arcade, you need an experienced pin tech on your staff at least part time. You shouldn't have to pay anyone outside to fix or restore a game.

    I'd recommend WPC and newer Stern games. Maybe a system 11 or two. They're popular, reliable and have many resources available when you do have troubles. Avoid games with typically long ball times, like LOTR, TSPP and SM. They can be set up for shorter ball times, but they aren't as fun when set up that way.

    I don't recommend hourly or flat fee charges for a number of reasons. If you're considering this, I can give you a bunch of reasons why you shouldn't. I operate games and play on location regularly. Played yesterday at the mall and will play again tonight at the pizza parlor for league.

    #38 4 years ago

    I've always wondered how an OP makes any profit with pins. Firstly, the cost is in the thousands to purchase said pin (ball park). Then, generally the charge is like .50 cents to play one game. It's takes a long time for that pin to pay for itself AND THEN start turning a slow profit.

    Then you have money wasted on repairs, etc.

    Just doesn't seem profitable in my opinion. I would tend to think arcade games are more reliable for the long haul.

    #39 4 years ago
    Quoted from rustybomber79:

    I have no arcade experience, but I would think some good shooter games would make some money. The kind that you can just keep continuing if you keep pumping the quarters in. Area 51 or CarnEvil, were older ones that just keeps you feeding it quarters

    Continual quarter grabbing scrollers like X-Men, TMNT, Gauntlet, etc... (can do 4 player versions of each, and can sometimes get cheaper as people have trouble unloading them due to size)

    Need some fighters like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, etc...

    And Centipede. Girls like Centipede for some reason.

    Oh, and Robotron.

    Don't forget to leave room for the Pinballs... I already want to visit!

    #40 4 years ago
    Quoted from Blackbeard:

    I've always wondered how an OP makes any profit with pins. Firstly, the cost is in the thousands to purchase said pin (ball park). Then, generally the charge is like .50 cents to play one game. It's takes a long time for that pin to pay for itself AND THEN start turning a slow profit.

    Then you have money wasted on repairs, etc.

    Just doesn't seem profitable in my opinion. I would tend to think arcade games are more reliable for the long haul.

    I think it takes bulk to make it profitable and, for most, it's a labor of love. You almost have to think of the game as an investment I think, kind of like renting a house or apartment. If you own, you go way down in the hole, say $3000 for a machine. However, the machine itself will likely retain all of, or most of this value...possibly even appreciate over the time. If you operate for 3 years, making $20/week off it, you've made $3,120, plus you can then sell the game and recoup your investment. Barring no major issues, you maybe spend $750 in that time on repairs, upkeep and permits. So, in the end, you profit $2,370 or $790 per year. To make this pay off, doing it in bulk would be pertinent. To really make much of an income, it would seem running 35+ pins would be crucial to even being able to consider doing it semi-full or full-time.

    I don't operate, this is just my speculation and taking in some things I've heard and, of course, some games would take in a lot more than $20 a week, while others potentially less.

    #41 4 years ago

    I've heard that POTC, BDK, ID4, JP and FT actually do really well on location.

    #42 4 years ago
    Quoted from Riffbear:

    Get 720, Donkey kong and Dragons lair for arcades..
    Absolute musts.

    Quoted from RipleYYY:

    if so, than you need 2 more : Galaga & Tempest

    + Ms. Pacman

    #43 4 years ago

    There is a place close to me that is a "punk rock pinball bar" called the Silver Ballroom. It's awesome. The place is like a shotgun bar...You walk in and there are tall tables along the right wall, and a pretty large bar on the left. Once you pass the bar, hang a left and you walk into the Silver ballroom. 18 machines (FT, CFTBL, BSD, Frankenstein, SP, TSPP, NBA, GI, Flinstones, TAF, TRS, CP, LOTR, POTC, TF, AC/DC, Sopranos, and RFM) He owns all but 4, and he does his own work on the machines. Hosts league, and some Tourneys through the year. I'm not huge on the punk rock, but you can't play this many games anywhere else around that is open daily. .50 per play or 1.00 for 3 on 95% of the games. Open 3-1:30 M-F, 12-1:30S and 12-12 Sunday. Maybe somethi ng to think about if you want to keep mostly pins and do liquor in a smaller space. I know at least 12 people who go there regularly and don't even play pinball. Best of luck, and if you need some arcades, my brother and I are looking to get rid of most of our collection to fund more pins. KI2, JP shooter, CarnEvil, X-Men and a fair amount of Jamma Boards from Data East and others.

    Adam

    #44 4 years ago

    Cash Flow > Profit

    #45 4 years ago

    I dont know the laws where you live nor do i know much about the demographics but ive been reading that in the cities bar-arcades are booming right now. I went to one in nyc and it was really cool great craft beer and vintage pinball/arcade games cant go wrong.

    #46 4 years ago

    Keep them at home and you can still enjoy them. Put them on route and there goes enjoyment and here comes money and work. Depends on what it is you want out of it.
    Good luck.

    #47 4 years ago

    Not sure if anyone said it yet but in some areas you can avoid the fees per machine by charging a flat rate to enter your establishment full of games on free play.

    Say $10 for a 3 hour pass or etc.

    Sell chips/soda or beer/brats as well as T shirts & weird stuff perhaps

    Here are two places I attend

    http://www.1984arcade.com/

    http://www.cppinball.com/

    #48 4 years ago

    Ac/dc pro, Metallica pro, getaway, shadow,whirlwind,Adams family,pinbot, bride of pinbot, taxi, one or two Ems would be cool too. Maybe 4 or 5 dmd games 2 or 3 ss and or alpha numeric, and one or two em games. What ever you decide, luck be with you.

    #49 4 years ago

    Target them to your audience would be my advice. If your aiming at 20's age group as a hang out then some of the lower end 90's games will do fine as they will put coins into them on theme alone. Stuff like street fighter for example which sucks as a pin but a lot of people in their early 20's will recognise it a lot more than a better pin that doesn't have a theme they'd already know.
    Have a mix I rekon, grab some cheaper 90's themes mixed with some good players tables. As said newer sterns also would do well, x-men is a great theme and depending on your hang outs style acdc/metalica may go down well.
    Make sure you get some shooter arcades (big buck hunter, time crisis, point blank) as they suck up peoples money when their drunk, also notice a lot of people play those measure how hard you punch skill games a lot around here at bars and as mentioned stuff like x-men, tnmt, mk, sf, tekken are all great vids as kids in their 20's (like myself) still identify and want to relive those games. For the general public at that age they may not appreciate more of the classics if they didn't grow up with them.

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