The Challenge of Purchasing an Arcade Game

Should You Buy Your Favorite Machine?

It can sound pretty appealing to have a classic arcade game stored and operational in your house. This is especially true if you have some nostalgia for a favorite game you played in the arcade as a kid, like Galaga or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But there are a few things you should keep in mind before you decide to make such a large (in both senses) purchase.

1. Do You Have the Space?

Where Will You Put Your New Arcade Game

First of all, and perhaps the most important thing to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase a classic arcade machine is if you have the physical space for it. At eight feet tall, three square feet at the base, and a weight in excess of 250 lbs., the average arcade machine is not only bigger than all of your home video game consoles, it's probably also heavier than your entire modern home theater system. And four-player machines like Gauntlet Legends or The Simpsons are even bigger, let alone the six-player monsters like X-Men.

Another element to consider in relation to space is just how hot a classic arcade game can get in a cramped space. Not only do you need room to store the machine itself, but space around it should be free so that the cabinet can breathe. Overall, what we're saying with this tip is that you should not think about getting an arcade cabinet while you are still living in a studio apartment, and maybe not even until you have a basement or garage where you live.

2. Arcade Machines are Expensive

Collector's Items Don't Come Cheap

The next thing you should keep in mind before you purchase an arcade cabinet is exactly how much money the machine itself will cost you. The popular games will always remain that way, as all the collectors try to outbid each other for arcade cabinets in high demand like Ms. Pac-Man or Frogger. Depending on the condition of the cabinet and the relative demand for a certain game, you could pay anywhere between $600 to $3,000, but that is just the beginning. Because after you buy the machine itself, you also have to pay for...

3. Shipping

Another Large Cost

Unless you have the good luck to buy an upright machine in the same city where you live, you are going to have to pay for shipping for your new arcade cabinet. In the continental United States, this is going to cost at least $200 from door to door, and prices for Alaska, Hawaii, or International shipping are going to be astronomical. If the arcade cabinet you buy is shipped by air freight, you can save a little bit of money on this by picking up the game at the airport. Just make sure you bring some strong friends and a truck.

4. Replacement Parts

These Warranties are Expired

Perhaps you have read through the first three steps on this list and thought to yourself, "No problem so far. I have the money and the physical space, I can buy and store this heavy video game without any issues." But once you get the cabinet itself, what sort of guarantee do you have that it will work properly or at all? Most arcade machines, until they are bought by private collectors, have lived a life of intense use in a public setting, and their warranties expired a long time ago. Not only that, but most arcade games use parts that are not as common as they were 20 or 30 years ago. It might be possible to find back-up joystick components, but what about the exact right-size CRT monitor that is required by some machines. This can be a real challenge, and you should school yourself in how to replace parts and repair your machine if it comes to that.

5. The Electric Bill

Prepare For a Jolt

If you have not already considered it, it is important to note that once you have your video game arcade cabinet in place in the den, happily glowing and playing the demo screens on a loop, that bad boy is going to cost you. And the cost is an electric bill that could easily be triple what you are used to, especially if you leave the arcade cabinet plugged in all the time. Not that you need to leave the machine plugged in at all times, but unless certain games have been modified with a save chip, then they will not store high scores permanently. Which means you will have to choose between the pride of showing off your best score on Joust versus being able to afford your utilities for the month. Although, if you managed to purchase, ship, repair, and store a classic video game arcade cabinet, the electric bill may not be that big a deal.

Do You Still Want An Arcade at Home?

Pros Versus Cons

Now that we have gone through some of the major hurdles to owning your own arcade machine, you have to ask yourself if you want to commit to such a big purchase. There is no denying that it can be exciting to have your own arcade cabinet at home, but if you decide that you cannot afford it, lots of communities now have retro arcades, places where you can go to play all the arcade classics of the 70s, 80s, and 90s for one flat fee. The upside to that is you do not have to pay for the upkeep of the machine, and the downside is that if you want to play at 3 in the morning, you will probably have to wait until business hours.

Also, for those who do not mind getting a less-than-pure arcade experience, many classic games have been released for consoles or to play online over the years. After all, when you cannot play Double Dragon in the arcade, sometimes it's enough to settle for Double Dragon Neon on the PlayStation 3.