(Topic ID: 156023)

What price in a bar is fair?


By Ibanezshreader

3 years ago



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  • Latest reply 2 years ago by mainelycoasters
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#1 3 years ago

Hey friends, I wanted to get everyone's opinion on what the proper price to play a pinball machine at a bar/brewery is? Here is my current line up and pricing. Think it's fair? Am I low-balling myself? Thanks!

All 50 cents per play/3plays per dollar

Walking dead pro
Kiss pro
Fish tales
Monopoly
Simpsons pinball party
South Park
Family guy
Super Mario
Ghostbusters (coming soon)

#3 3 years ago

75c or 3/$2 is fair.

50 cents seems to be the norm with no bonus for multiple games.

$1 a game... I keep walking

#4 3 years ago

As a consumer, I would say you are spot on

#5 3 years ago

I think 50 cents would be quite reasonable for the older games, specifically Fish Tales because of its brief ball times. 75 cents seems to be the sweet spot for newer games.

#6 3 years ago
Quoted from Tux:

I think 50 cents would be quite reasonable for the older games, specifically Fish Tales because of its brief ball times. 75 cents seems to be the sweet spot for newer games.

This.
You may also try $1 for the newest game in the arcade and then 0.75 once the novelty wears off.

#7 3 years ago

All my games on route are 75 cents per play 3/2 bucks with the exception of my Metallica which is a buck per play or 3/2 bucks. However all of my games are led'd and are now getting pulled one at a time to get Titan rubbers. Imo your walking dead, kiss, and when you get ghost busters should all be a dollar. I'm pretty sure stern even has the buck per play pricing card on the apron when they ship?

#8 3 years ago

Nice lineup!

#9 3 years ago

I would pay $1 for new games, but 3plays/$2 will get me to play more than once.

Older games should be less, say .50 and 3/$1.

If they are dirty and not working, I walk away after 1 play. My local operator, who is a friend, does not understand what clean and working means.

#10 3 years ago

3 plays a dollar! We are happy paying $2 for 3 plays around me. Prices are up all around don't let the folks who are stuck in 1990 tell you what to price your games at.

25
#11 3 years ago

We do $1 for all new games (6 for $5). This is anything brand new and stuff like GOTpremium, FullT, Hobbit. Expensive games that cost more to maintain and to buy.

Aside from that, standard pricing is newer = $1 or 3/$2
New but around for a while or nice refurbished B listers from 90s = .75 or 3/$2
pre-DMD = .50
EM = .25

Reality is that while most collectors on Pinside have no problem owning 10, 20, 50k worth of machines, most will say they are pretty cheap when it comes to paying for pinball on location.

You are definately low balling your self BIG time. You have a solid and largely new colleciton which I assume plays well. You need to up your prices if you plan to keep them running well and actually cover costs. At your currnet 3/$1 you can expect to be burnt out and broke in a year. 33cents per play - taxes - split with bar - minus insurance - upkeep (dont event think about your time to maintain) and you are likely looking at .08 to .10 per play (and that is being generous). For a TWD that means 45,000 plays just to your break even point, and you are still worjking for free.

Something else to keep in mind is how much pinball cost in the early 90s when pricing was agressive and there were pins in every bar and then inflation.

.50 in 1994 = .80 in today dollars.

Even at .75 or 3/$2 players are getting a bargin compared to 1994.

The reality is that if you want to operate pinball for the long haul then anything less than .75 and you are setting up a failing experiment. This experiemnet is played out all over town for us. There are a few other operators of pinball (they mainly do grab machines and gambling stuff for the real business) and some charge .25 or .50 per play on newer games. Their games are broken, black from dirt and not worth playing after 2 months on route. They really have little choice if they keep the pricing the same. It will never make sense for them to maintain those games since they have priced them so low.

#12 3 years ago

Any game made in the past 10 years should be $1 a play, 3 plays for 2 dollars

Older 90s and 80s titles 75 cents, maybe 50 cents if it's a beater.

Even 70s Digitals should be 50 cents these days.

#13 3 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

We do $1 for all new games (6 for $5). This is anything brand new and stuff like GOTpremium, FullT, Hobbit. Expensive games that cost more to maintain and to buy.
Aside from that, standard pricing is newer = $1 or 3/$2
New but around for a while or nice refurbished B listers from 90s = .75 or 3/$2
pre-DMD = .50
EM = .25
w.

Spot on. There are some incredibly cheap bastards in pinball.

Pinball machines are expensive to buy and maintain.

#14 3 years ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

There are some incredibly cheap bastards in pinball.

luckily the majority of plays come from regular people where .75 or $1 is cheap entertainment and they understand it is not 1990 anymore

#15 3 years ago

I think your prices are good for the game selection you have. However, when your new ghostbusters gets in, that definitely should be set at 75cents or higher per play, no reason that should be set anywhere near 50 cents.

#16 3 years ago

I would do:

Walking dead pro $1 3/$2
Kiss pro $1 3/$2
Fish tales .75 3/$2
Monopoly .75 3/$2
Simpsons pinball party .75 3/$2
South Park .75 3/$2
Family guy .75 3/$2
Super Mario .50 (always good to have one .50 game and this is geared towards the little ones anyway
Ghostbusters (coming soon) $1 straight for the first few months then $1 3/$2

#17 3 years ago

Thanks for the responses! What does everyone think about the 50cent price point but making it VERY difficult to win free games? I want to keep it affordable and become an attraction locally. I understand the maintainace, and maybe some one more experienced with a route can chime in but here is my current business model,

Immediately LED, cliffy my machines, clean them every Saturday morning before the big Weekend crowd flows in. Wax as needed. My time honestly does not matter to me so I put zero value on my labor. I absolutely love working on machines and watching the joy folks get from playing the machines.

I may look at the break even a bit different then everyone else as this is NOT a full time job. This is really a way to keep my collection out of my house(for my girlfriends sanity) I have a local flipper who will purchase machines, I can buy a new machine for 5k, set a 1000k goal to "break even" and sell it to the flipper for 4K, then I view the rest as profit.

I truly love pinball and I want everyone else to experience the love and hopefully keep this bad ass game alive!!!!!

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#18 3 years ago
Quoted from Ibanezshreader:

What does everyone think about the 50cent price point but making it VERY difficult to win free games? I want to keep it affordable and become an attraction locally.

IF you are getting 100% of the cut then you are fine with that model, but assuming you are giving ~50% to the location then you are setting yourself up for a lot of work and games getting beat quickly.

even 1000plays will start to do wear on newer Sterns

As for pricing vs match/replays, most people seem to like to be able to win free games IME. You can turn up ball save time on the games the kids play as that will give them a bit more value and they dont feel ripped off for house balls. Good players dont need the ball save as much. I would leave replays/match at factory defaults and increase your price.

at 3/$1 you are way undevaluing even the cost of the games, let alone the cost to maintain and your time.

#19 3 years ago

also, what is your location and where are you located (I assume somewhere in CO?)? looks like a GREAT lineup of games!

#20 3 years ago
Quoted from Ibanezshreader:

Thanks for the responses! What does everyone think about the 50cent price point but making it VERY difficult to win free games?

image_(resized).jpegimage_(resized).jpeg

I still think it sucks. That's too cheap, and your average player probably isn't expecting to win free games anyway. Make it $1, set your replays fairly high so some ringer isn't playing for free all day, and get on with your life.

You keep talking about doing this for the joy of the game...I'm worried your attitude will sour when the harsh realities start to pile up.

Do it for yourself.

Do it for the location.

Do it for PINBALL - we can't have cheapskates thinking it's still 1989. You need to get with the times for the good of the game to help location pinball survive. People think noting of putting $5 into a Star Wars Battlepod at Dave and Busters but they still think pinball should be 50 cents. There's a reason for that.

#21 3 years ago

As a lover of location pinball, I try to put money in every machine I see no matter the condition. If it's kept up and working properly, I try to put more than one game on it. The local Wal-Mart has a WWE and while it's not my favorite game, I put a few dollars in every time I see it to help support the vendor. It's 50 cents or 3/$1 and the replays are set very liberal.

#22 3 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

I would do:
Walking dead pro $1 3/$2
Kiss pro $1 3/$2
Fish tales .75 3/$2
Monopoly .75 3/$2
Simpsons pinball party .75 3/$2
South Park .75 3/$2
Family guy .75 3/$2
Super Mario .50 (always good to have one .50 game and this is geared towards the little ones anyway
Ghostbusters (coming soon) $1 straight for the first few months then $1 3/$2

^^^This is spot on.

#23 3 years ago

If you have an arcade near you, wander through and check out the prices on the games (even if they're not pinball).

Most newer games are *at least* $1.

#24 3 years ago

For newer games I say $1 a play, $2 for 3 plays. I've heard that adding a bill acceptor to games helps increase revenue.

#25 3 years ago

I'm a stingy route player and even I think $3/1 is way too generous. It's like free pinball.

#26 3 years ago

I think location and condition of the pins has a lot to do with pricing. In metro areas, $1/play on the newer games is OK. $.50 on DMD/SS games. In small towns/rural America, I see lots of resistance to $1/play games. $.50 DMD/SS games are OK, provided the pin is fully operable, unfortunately a rare occurence.

There remains a significant pychological barrier to $1/game pricing. Not saying its good or bad. Just saying its there. I fully realize pins are not cheap to buy or maintain. Understand the concept of return on investment. My mindset still hasn't fully accepted $1/game pricing. Am I part of the "Cheap Bastards of Pinball"? Probably.

#27 3 years ago
Quoted from PanzerFreak:

I've heard that adding a bill acceptor to games helps increase revenue.

Also, payrange might be something to look into for mobile payments:

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/pay-with-your-phone-is-this-a-common-thing-yet/

#28 3 years ago
Quoted from Hoopjohn:

My mindset still hasn't fully accepted $1/game pricing. Am I part of the "Cheap Bastards of Pinball"? Probably.

Yes, absolutely.

I think part of it is that not enough games have bill acceptors. When you are shoveling in quarters, it might make the "cheap bastard" barrier harder to overcome. If the game is swallowing up your singles, you are gonna be more likely to put in two for 3 credits.

Of course a bill acceptor is another investment an op needs to make (a couple hundred bucks I think) but it's worth it.

#29 3 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Reality is that while most collectors on Pinside have no problem owning 10, 20, 50k worth of machines, most will say they are pretty cheap when it comes to paying for pinball on location.

Spot on Hilton. Astounds me that some here won't pay $1 for a game on location but will pay hundreds for some stupid trinket to stick on the top of their own pinball machine ...

I like your pricing. Pretty much standard from what I have seen in my travels.

$1 for new machines
75c for all other DMDs
50-75c for Sys11s
50c for SS
25c for EM

rd

#30 3 years ago

Maybe it's just me but the replay level and how attainable it is has to factor into the pricing. IOW, if somebody just keeps pumping in cash with short ball times and no chance for a replay, great for the operator. But the regular guy won't do it for very long. And the guy that knows the game, won't do it all.

#31 3 years ago

Maybe my area is different, but $1 per play is going to turn off a lot of people. I personally wouldn't frequent a place charging $1 a game and I only play on location. On new titles sure, but for pretty much anything else $0.75 a game will probably bring in more volume. Heck at a truck stop I like to go to, the most popular game is Metallica simply because it is set to $0.50 a play. I think your prices are on the low end of what I see out on location, with the level of maintenance you are talking about it is unheard of.

I think $0.75 per game on everything, but keep one priced at $0.50 to keep the cheapskates playing. You might be able to get away with $1 per game on a new game if there are a lot of more knowledgeable pinball players who come in. Otherwise, the only thing that will make Ghostbusters stand out to a new player is the higher price tag. JJP's games could probably get away with being $1 when new, but even then most of the ones I see on location drop down to $0.75 pretty quick.

#32 3 years ago

Bump DrWilly,thats the correct amount! in Reno,they have money cards you buy for the machines,and if you put $20.00 on your card,they give you $5.00 extra! $1.00 is correct for the new titles! You can charge 1.50 for Ghostbusters when it comes out,cause it's the newest pin out!! Get your money!!:)peace!!

#33 3 years ago

I'm surprised no one's used an inflation calculator on 1980 prices as if people would pay $1.50 for the average pinny game today. Paging Mr. Vid.

#34 3 years ago

On newer games, I'd try $1 per game, 3 for $2. Some won't put a dollar in for one game because the game doesn't give change. Secondly, it means less coins to jam up the coin mechs.

#35 3 years ago
Quoted from Ibanezshreader:

Thanks for the responses! What does everyone think about the 50cent price point but making it VERY difficult to win free games? I want to keep it affordable and become an attraction locally. I understand the maintainace, and maybe some one more experienced with a route can chime in but here is my current business model,
Immediately LED, cliffy my machines, clean them every Saturday morning before the big Weekend crowd flows in. Wax as needed. My time honestly does not matter to me so I put zero value on my labor. I absolutely love working on machines and watching the joy folks get from playing the machines.
I may look at the break even a bit different then everyone else as this is NOT a full time job. This is really a way to keep my collection out of my house(for my girlfriends sanity) I have a local flipper who will purchase machines, I can buy a new machine for 5k, set a 1000k goal to "break even" and sell it to the flipper for 4K, then I view the rest as profit.
I truly love pinball and I want everyone else to experience the love and hopefully keep this bad ass game alive!!!!!

image_(resized).jpegimage_(resized).jpeg

New games should be at $1 a play, older stuff is whatever the market will bear. You can always lower your price per play, much harder to increase it. I price all my new stuff at $1 a play, 3/$2 and make no apologies for it. Pins are not cheap to maintain, things break and you are the guy that has to fix it. OTOH, if you are trying to discourage location play at other locations, go ahead and price all of your stuff at 50 cents, 3 for $1.00. That price point will make other operators think twice about bothering to route pins near you. Cheap pinball on location does not help pinball overall.

Regarding replays, I look for a replay percentage between 15-20%. People enjoy winning games, plus it keeps them at the location longer and that helps the location, too.

I don't see bill acceptors on any of the games in the above pictures. If you have eight games at a location, bill acceptors on each game or better for you at this point would be a change machine, especially if you are going to stay at 50 cents a play.

You don't value your time at all? Okay, no problem. I'll bet you do value your free time, at least you do what you want to do in your free time. Pins break at the most inopportune times. You enjoy working on games, it might be a little different when you have something else you want to do but you have to go fix a pin instead.

What happens when you buy a new game and it is a poor seller overall. Do you really think your local flipper will want to buy that game for $4k? You might be stuck with it, or have to sell it for a loss.

Best of luck to you in this new venture.

#36 3 years ago
Quoted from DefaultGen:

I'm surprised no one's used an inflation calculator on 1980 prices as if people would pay $1.50 for the average pinny game today. Paging Mr. Vid.

I just look at mid 90s, when I was in HS and more then happy to pay .50 per game for things like TAF, ToM, TZ, etc... I remember thinking we hit the jackpot when we found a 5 for $2 deal on a TAF on the other side of town.

Now-a-days the majority of the people playing pinball are the same ones that did it in the mid 90s but we are 20 years older and have way more disposable income.

Heck, I can go to a bar spend $5 per craft beer, $10 for a meal, and then $5 on a full night of pinball with a group of guys. Yet some will still complain about the 5 bucks they spent on the pinball

I can lose more in dollar games then I actually spend to play them most nights.

#37 3 years ago

around Toronto some games were .50 cents a play in the 80s. Even $1 seems cheap.

#38 3 years ago
Quoted from BrianBannon:

Cheap pinball on location does not help pinball overall.

THIS ^

#39 3 years ago
Quoted from Bizzenya:

Maybe my area is different, but $1 per play is going to turn off a lot of people. I personally wouldn't frequent a place charging $1 a game and I only play on location. On new titles sure, but for pretty much anything else $0.75 a game will probably bring in more volume. Heck at a truck stop I like to go to, the most popular game is Metallica simply because it is set to $0.50 a play. I think your prices are on the low end of what I see out on location, with the level of maintenance you are talking about it is unheard of.
I think $0.75 per game on everything, but keep one priced at $0.50 to keep the cheapskates playing. You might be able to get away with $1 per game on a new game if there are a lot of more knowledgeable pinball players who come in. Otherwise, the only thing that will make Ghostbusters stand out to a new player is the higher price tag. JJP's games could probably get away with being $1 when new, but even then most of the ones I see on location drop down to $0.75 pretty quick.

This is the reality in Tucson. I have a location with 8 machines and they are all priced at .50 a play, but with no bonus buy. The replay scores are tough, but reachable, and all but Mario has the extra balls turned off. Mario can't, or it would be as well. I run a lot of events, and I don't feel like turning all the EBs on and off all the time, so that's how things are. My friend has a location with ~30 machines and it's .75 for A-listers and new Sterns, .50 for other DMDs and SS, and .25 for EMs.

Mine is a hobby business and his is his real job. I know in Phoenix, new games are $1 or $2/3 in most areas. There are a few newer places though and I don't know what their pricing is.

#40 3 years ago

Get those pins off 50 cents per play. Way too cheap. I recommend upping it to 75 cents or 3 plays for $2 immediately. And don't be afraid to set your next NIB Stern to $1 or 3 for $2 for the first couple months.

No matter how much you love sharing pinball, you need to value your time and your equipment.

-9
#41 3 years ago

I'd keep the price as low as possible to attract business. People hate to be gouged and $1 a game is just that... in my opinion. I'd leave it at 50 cents for the newer games and drop to a quarter for the older games.

#42 3 years ago

Recently learned my threshold is $1/play, which I happily pay to play the newer and top shelf games. $0.75 for next tier, $0.50 for the older SS games.

My local arcade installed TH @ $1.25/play. I realize not a huge cost to play, nor much more than the $1/play I am already happy to pay, but does seem to cross some imaginary line for me. I will not be exploring this game beyond occasional casual play.

I think this objection was coupled with my disappointment seeing one of my favorites, SM @ $0.75/play, removed from the floor that same day. And Star Trek out of order.

#43 3 years ago

Well you'll never become the JacksonSoloistShredder at those prices.
$1 is fair. Or in a year you might be the SquierShredder.

#44 3 years ago

Don't be afraid to up your prices. You can always go back down but odds are people will pay it. Esp if your games are clean and playing well. I was a little afraid at first to put my games on .75 cents cause I was the only op in town doing it, however I have never gotten a complaint and have been thanked many times for putting out good clean well playing machines.

#45 3 years ago
Quoted from Gryszzz:

Well you'll never become the JacksonSoloistShredder at those prices.
$1 is fair. Or in a year you might be the SquierShredder.

That is particularly funny.

I never liked the Soloist myself ... Too much of a neck heel. I have a Jackson LTD88, had it since new.

rd

image_(resized).jpeg

#46 3 years ago
Quoted from Dr-Willy:

putting out good clean well playing machines.

this is key.

Keep your games clean and playing well and they $1 is more than fair.

#47 3 years ago

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#48 3 years ago
Quoted from d0n:

I'd keep the price as low as possible to attract business. People hate to be gouged and $1 a game is just that... in my opinion. I'd leave it at 50 cents for the newer games and drop to a quarter for the older games.

$0.25 a game, what is this, the Pinball Hall of Fame?

12
#49 3 years ago
Quoted from d0n:

I'd keep the price as low as possible to attract business. People hate to be gouged and $1 a game is just that... in my opinion. I'd leave it at 50 cents for the newer games and drop to a quarter for the older games.

Dear lord.

"Gouged?"

Since everybody is getting rich on .25 and .50 cent games, you should start a route and show us how it's done.

14
#50 3 years ago
Quoted from CrazyLevi:

Dear lord.
"Gouged?"

Exactly. $1 to play (in some cases) an $8000 game? That's not exactly a rip off in my eyes ...

Meanwhile, nobody seems to have an issue paying $7 for a Corona at the bar when you can buy them at Walmart for $1. Now that's a rip ...

rd

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