For anybody looking to perfect a game room or man cave, there is truly no better way than an arcade machine. Whether you enjoy classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Frogger, or prefer “newer” games like NBA Jam, Jurassic Park, and Dance Dance Revolution, there is an arcade machine for everybody.
One of the most commonly asked questions about arcade machines is an obvious one – how much does an arcade machine cost?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple question to answer because there are so many variables to consider. But we will take a deep dive into each one and give you a solid estimate on how much you will need to pay for an arcade machine.
Quick Answer – How Much Does an Arcade Machine Cost?
This is an oversimplification, but here is the quickest way to answer the question:
- Low quality, budget-friendly new-build arcade machines can be found for $300-$1,000. These are often poorly constructed and are about ½ to ¾ the size of an actual arcade machine.
- For a quality new-build arcade machine, you can expect to pay $1,500 to $3,000. These machines are often multicades that contain dozens or hundreds of games in a single device, and are a great way to get started with a home arcade.
- For a professional-grade arcade machine, such as you would find in a real arcade, expect to pay $2,000-$3,500 for a simple arcade cabinet (think Pac-Man, Galaga, etc.), all the way up to $15,000+ for an elaborate cabinet or rare machine.
Budget Arcade Machine Prices
As mentioned above, new budget-friendly arcade machines can be found for $300-$1,000. Some of these machines still feature incredible artwork and highly desirable games. For $600-$800, you can get a multicade machine that features dozens (or hundreds) of classic games in a single device.
Because these machines are available from reputable marketplaces like Amazon and Wayfair, finding a machine is easy and you really don’t have to do much besides press the “buy” button and enter your credit card information. This makes arcade gaming accessible to those of us that can’t build and program our own arcade machine, and don’t want to spend time scouring eBay or junk stores for a classic arcade machine that can be painstakingly restored to its former glory.
But, there are definitely drawbacks to purchasing one of these machines. First, rarely are they full-sized machines. Instead, the budget-friendly options are usually ½ to ¾ the size of the “real” machine that they are replicating. The smaller size makes for easier shipping and installation, but the build quality is nowhere near that of the professional grade machines.
For purists and DIYers with the skills to build a custom machine, I would recommend steering clear of these budget machines from brands like Arcade 1Up and Doc and Pies. These devices probably won’t live up to everyone’s standards.
But for anyone that wants to play arcade classics on a budget, this is a (relatively) inexpensive and accessible way to get started.
Mid-Grade Arcade Machine Prices
For anyone looking to outfit their game room with a quality arcade machine that doesn’t necessarily have to be professional-grade, you have some great options.
Brands like Dream Arcades, Prime Arcades, and Creative Arcades make fairly high quality multicades that are much closer to the “real thing” than the budget options listed above. The materials are better, the machines are often full size, and you can expect the machine to last much longer.
These machines tend to run anywhere from $1,500 at the low end to $3,200 or more at the high end. Of course, this is dependent on screen size, games included, cocktail versus upright, and a host of other customizations like upgraded hard drives and additional controls like a gun package or upgraded trackball and joysticks.
Professional Arcade Machine Prices
When you look at arcade-quality machines, the price range gets incredibly wide.
On the low end, you can often find simple games that only require simple cabinets and controls (games like Pac-Man and Galaga, for example) for $2,500 to $4,000.
For games with oversized and elaborate cabinets, as well as games with specialized controls, $8,000 to $18,000 is a typical price range. These games would include driving games with seats and a cockpit, certain gun games, motorcycle games that have a motorcycle for a seat which is tilted to steer, and of course the unforgettable Dance Dance Revolution which has a platform and foot-activated controls.
As games progress toward even better graphics (4K displays, etc.), more sophisticated lighting, and virtual reality, it is (of course) possible to spend significantly more than $18,000 on an arcade machine. There are new arcade machines being made that retail for $40,000+, and of course the used market can have absurdly high prices when a rare or hard-to-find machine becomes available.
The Used Market for Arcade Machines
The used market is pretty much the wild west.
Some people can find a steal at a garage sale or junk shop, where a $2,000 machine might have a $200 price tag just because the owner doesn’t know its true value. Other people spend thousands on a “working” arcade machine and then immediately have to search for an arcade machine repairman to fix a malfunctioning device. And, of course, collectors and enthusiasts have been known to start bidding wars when a desirable or rare machine hits the open market.
Generally speaking, used (working condition) arcade machines tend to cost between $1,000 and $4,000. More specifically, you can expect to pay between $1,200 and $2,200 for a working used machine.
Remember, also, that shipping is an important consideration. Most new arcade machines will either include shipping or else give you a flat-rate quote for shipping cost. On the other hand, used marketplaces typically require you to make your own arrangements. Trying to move one of these 500+ pound cabinets from one side of the room to the other can be challenging enough, imagine the difficulty in shipping it across the country!
While this is an obvious point to some, don’t forget to consider shipping.
Failing to plan for the cost and logistics of shipping is a surefire way to turn your arcade dreams into a nightmare.
Although we have been critical of the ½ to ¾ size budget arcade machines, it should be pointed out that these machines are significantly more user-friendly when it comes to shipping. Sure, the enthusiasts and purists can say that they “aren’t the real thing,” but free 2-day shipping from Amazon or Wayfair sounds pretty excellent when compared to a “real machine” that you found on eBay that needs to be picked up from a location that is a few thousand miles from your home!
Having said all of that, by no means is it impossible to ship a full-sized arcade machine. But having to find a truck and trailer, load it, and drive hundreds or thousands of miles to deliver it to your house is just unapproachable for many of us.
Maintenance and Repair of Arcade Machines
We have spoken at length about the cost of acquiring an arcade machine, but let’s not forget a crucial aspect of owning one – maintenance and repair. Like any other electronic device, arcade machines need regular care and occasional repairs to keep them in working order.
Maintenance mostly includes routine cleaning of the machine, checking connections, and testing the controls regularly to ensure everything is functioning as it should. Dust and grime can build up over time and may affect the performance of the controls or even the game itself. Regularly cleaning the controls, screen, and the machine exterior will keep it looking fresh and new.
For repairs, arcade machines are built to last, but over time components can wear down or malfunction. In these instances, depending on the complexity of the repair, you might have to call in a professional. Simple repairs like replacing a joystick or a button can usually be done at home with basic tools. More complex repairs like replacing or repairing the game’s PCB (Printed Circuit Board) may require professional help.
Professional repair services can vary in cost. For simpler repairs, you might be looking at costs around $50-$100. For more complex repairs, the costs could run into hundreds of dollars. Additionally, because these are niche products, it may be challenging to find a quality repairperson in your area.
So, remember to factor in the potential maintenance and repair costs when you’re budgeting for your arcade machine.
Arcade Machine Games and Licensing
One of the key features of an arcade machine is, of course, the games it offers. Machines can come with a single game, a handful of games, or even hundreds of games in multicade systems.
When buying an arcade machine, it’s important to verify that the games installed are legitimately licensed. This is especially relevant if you’re considering a multicade system. Some sellers may load these machines with unlicensed copies of games, which is both illegal and may result in a subpar gaming experience.
You can usually check the licensing status of a game with the game’s developer or publisher. If you’re purchasing from a reputable manufacturer, they will often list the game licenses they hold.
Giving an exact answer to the question, “How much does an arcade machine cost?,” is impossible.
Broadly speaking, it will most likely cost more than $400 and less than $40,000.
If you are willing to purchase a budget-friendly, poor quality machine that is smaller than the full-size machines, expect to pay $300-$1,000. If you want a new machine that provides a more authentic feel, you should be prepared to pay $1,500-$3,000. And if you demand a professional quality arcade machine, you will likely need to pay $2,000-$4,000 for a simple cabinet or $8,000-$18,000 for a more elaborate cabinet.
For anybody shopping the used market, there is no telling what exactly you will find. Unless you get a steal, it will still likely be $1,200-$2,200 for a quality machine in working order. And don’t forget to factor in the labor and expense of shipping, too.
Is it legal to own an arcade machine at home?
Absolutely! It’s perfectly legal to own and operate an arcade machine in your home. The only legal concerns might arise if you use unlicensed games or if you charge others to play without the proper commercial license.
How much electricity does an arcade machine use?
This can vary based on the size, model, and age of the machine, but on average, a full-sized arcade machine can consume between 150-300 watts when in use. In other words, while arcade machines use more power than a PC or gaming console, it won’t be very expensive to run your arcade machine.
Can I add more games to my arcade machine?
This largely depends on the machine. Some multicade systems allow for additional games to be added, while traditional single-game machines do not. Once you enter the world of MAME gaming, the machines are almost infinitely customizable.
How long do arcade machines last?
With good maintenance and care, arcade machines can last for several decades. Remember, some of the machines you find in arcades today are classics from the ’80s and ’90s and they’re still going strong!
Can an arcade machine be used for commercial purposes?
Yes, but make sure you have the right licensing in place if you’re charging customers to play. In some cases, you may need a commercial license from the game’s developer or publisher.