All You Can Arcade was lucky enough to get invited onto the Spike and Bob show in Seattle. As a former Seattlite, I was really flattered when they invited us on the show. During the interview, we discuss the crowd sourcing nature of our All You Can Arcade business model, shared tips on scoring cheap games off of Craigslist and we talk about how much money you can make renting your games on our website. You can hear the interview from their show by clicking the link above or by visiting Bob River’s website at BobRivers.com You should also make sure to check out the Bob River Facebook page for more interesting stories.
Breaking a high score record on an arcade game may seem like an easy way to get into the Guiness Book of World Records, but it’s a lot harder than people realize. Back in the day, you may have been able to school your friends on Donkey Kong or Street Fighter, but with the scores getting higher and higher with each passing year, breaking a record has become quite rare.
In 1982, 7-11 hosted a Defender Stargate tournament where they pulled in every game within a 50 mile radius and put them on free play. They then invited kids all over Texas to try and win serious cash prizes by playing the game. Billy Joe Cain made history that day and he is currently trying to make history again with his 12 year old son by breaking the high score for the game. While official rules do allow a player to take a 5 minute break each hour, the game must still keep playing, so you have to build up enough free lives to survive cat naps, eating and drinking and of course the bathroom breaks.
With a game like Stargate, this isn’t an easy task. If you leave your jet on auto-pilot it starts sucking lives at a rate of about 1 per 30 second break! This makes it all that much more difficult to make history on the game. Adding to the challenge is the fact that Stargate uses 5 different buttons, plus a joystick in order to play the game.
On his website, Billy Joe put together a Q&A with more background on his experience playing arcade games.
“What kind of educational and professional experiences might be affected by your arcade experiences? I have started playing Defender again in the last couple of years and I have noticed that my play style mirrors how I live my life. It’s weird. I take chances but keep my mind on the big picture. There are times where I’m fast and furious and other times where I take my time through a measured response. You have to size up your enemies, and know their patterns to expose their weakness. In order to get through the chaos, sometimes you have to deal with one “knowable” and “manageable” thing at a time until you can quiet the chaos. Being able to enter a very chaotic environment and start nailing down one thing at a time has been invaluable in my life and my career.
Weird. I think I might see the nucleus of a self-help book there.
Of course getting a job in the video game industry was just unbelieveable. All of my experience in the industry has been backed by decades of game playing. I try to bring my emotional experiences from those games to my players, whether it’s a new multi-stage game mechanic from Gorf, the surprise of a cut scene in Ms. Pac Man, or the feeling the excitement of getting the top score of Defender. It’s all in there.”
Multi-taskers can do well at the game, but if you give me more than one joystick and one button, it’s too much for my brain. Trying to balance when to use thrust, reverse, hyperspace invisibility or your laser cannons to avoid incoming fire involves the use of all your facilities and starts to get really complicated as you get tired. It’s still too early to know if Billy Joe will break the record because this is going on live right now, but if you live in the DeKalb Illinois area, you can get tickets here to see him break it as he gets closer to the top score on the game. We wish Billy Joe the best of luck and hope he gets lots of sleep afterwards. Chime in the comments if there’s a game that you think you could play non-stop for three days if you wanted to secure the top score? Stargate fans in the Sacramento and Bay Area stay tuned for more “new” releases, because we’ll be adding the game to our website this week.
Need more proof that the arcade industry is undergoing a revival? Look no further than season 2 of Video Game High School. After generating incredible buzz with the first season, Freddie Wong was able to parlay the show’s popularity into $800,000 backed by more than 10,000 fans on Kickstarter. Judging by the trailer, season 2 looks pretty awesome. Shot entirely in YouTube’s own studio in LA, the show’s quality is quite a bit higher than most YouTube series and should help create even more video game fans. Gigaom has more info on the release
“there’s something else that’s interesting about Video Game High School. The show is a good example of what Google wants YouTube to look more like in the future: High-quality production that understands the audience, and attracts real ad dollars. The show’s second season is sponsored by Dodge, and with TV-length half-hour episodes, YouTube is able to show viewers a total of three ads in the season two premiere episode. YouTube has long been pushing for more professional content, with a wide variety of tools: The site has given out free equipment to some of its producers, invited others to classes to learn more about video production and given sizable advances to select partners.”
I’m constantly amazed at how many young people own and work on games. The games may have been made a long time ago, but young inquisitive minds still find them fascinating. I think Video Game High School’s success is a good indicator that another generation stands ready to carry the torch as operators from the 80s slip into retirement.
We realize that most people just want to play the arcade games without having to do a lot of the work to keep the game running, but we also know that there are others like ourselves who really enjoy working on these old games and are looking for new challenges to build their skills.
With so many empty cabinets available for $25 or $50 it’s not usually a great financial decision to build your own cabinet, but sometimes you’ll have a game that has been left outside and the particle board will be rotten beyond saving or maybe you live in an area like Alaska or Hawaii where it’s harder to get access to games on a regular basis. No matter what your motivation, building a game from scratch can be an immensely rewarding experience. Each step of the process will involve different techniques, materials and tools that you’ll need to accomplish the job.
We hope to post a lot of how to articles on this site, so if you’re interested in learning how to repair arcade games, we’d encourage you to subscribe to our RSS feed or like our page on Facebook to get notify when we publish new posts. Before getting into all the electronics, you need to start with your arcade cabinet.
Which materials you use, will depend in part on what type of cabinet you’re trying to create. Just like automobiles, arcade games are all made a little bit unique. Sometimes this can be the most frustrating part of trying to restore a game. A 1979 Asteroids is going to use different parts than a 1981 Asteroids Deluxe. Some cabinets were used for a lot of different games. A lot of Nintendo games used the same cabinets and the operators could just swap boards to change the games. Galaga, Ms. Pacman and Pacman also all shared the same cabinet design by Midway.
Once you do decide on a game, it’s time to track down plans that you can use to recreate the cabinet of your choice. A great resource for these designs is the Jakobud.com website. Some purist will argue that the specs in the plans aren’t always identical to the original and may be off by a few inches, but we don’t think that replicas always need to be perfect clone of the original. We’re glad that resources like Jakobud exist and that others have taken the time to record some of this data, so that even if the games age, there is still a way to create new ones. If you’re trying to track down the dimensions of a game that you want to build and don’t see it on their website, but know that we have it in our inventory, you’re welcome to leave a comment here and we’ll be happy to measure the dimensions, if the game isn’t currently being rented by a customer.
For even more in-depth advice on creating your own cabinet from scratch, you should make sure to check out John St. Clair’s DIY book, Project Arcade.
One of the questions that we get asked a lot is where do we find our games. While every game has a unique story about where it came from, the arcade auctions can be a great source for finding good deals at fire sale prices. After an unbelievable 45 year run Mikey’s Funland in Lakewood WA has closed up shop. For years they entertained tourists, locals and lots of kids at their amusement center, but as time marched on, the games lost the appeal that they once had. Instead of trying to store all of their games, B&I Amusements (the operator of Mikey’s Funland) has chosen to go the mass liquidation route.
EHLI Auctions put together a nice video showing off what’s for sale. It really helps to show how massive of an event this is and is a good example of the challenges an operator faces when trying to exit the business. Rather then selling them all at once, we would have liked to see B&I take their time to get top dollar while storing them in our customer’s homes 😉 but we are happy that other collectors and operators will be able to score some pretty good deals on this one. The auction closed today, July 25 2013 at 7pm PST, so if you live nearby and see something you like, you should definitely check it out. In addition to the arcade games, they also have a collection of kiddie rides for sale including a huge tank that would look pretty awesome parked on my front lawn.
Some of the highs and lows for the auction reveal a little bit behind what type of buyers are interested in the games. On the high side, we’re shocked to see Pacman fetch an $825 bid. This is the most we’ve ever seen a Pacman go for, although I’m sure you’ll find higher prices on Ebay. On one hand the high bid makes sense because if you were a fan of the game and don’t really have a lot of technical skill when it comes to fixing them, we could see someone wanting to pay this much for a game they loved. Pacman was insanely popular so my guess is that two baby boomers are slugging it out for a game that they made thousands and thousands of copies of. We paid $100 locally for our Pacman game, but ours is a cocktail unit while the one for sale by B&I Amusements is a stand up version.
Another game that is pushing the highs on the auction is Midway’s racing game Hyrdo Thunder. Currently the bid is over $1,000 and this one looks like it could surge higher. We see a lot of the sit down racer games either go for top dollar or bargain basement prices, but rarely anything in between. Because the giant racing games are so difficult to move, you can often attend an auction in person and buy games for next to nothing once other bidders fill up their trucks and don’t have any more room. Sit down racers are one of the few games left that an operator can put into a commercial location and have it generate enough coinage to make it worth their while, so when you get two pros bidding against each other, you can see the value on these things run. It’s a fun game, but a little too rich for our blood.
Some of the better deals that are still available include the following; There are several broken games that are still under $100. Many of these will need repairs, but new power supplies can be purchased for as little as $20 and you can source monitors and jamma boards for around $50, so it doesn’t take a lot of money to take a broken game and turn it into an awesome working game, if you don’t mind swapping parts. If the Seattle collector market knew about this Seawolf at $50, it would be gone in a heartbeat. The monitor alone is worth 3 times that because Seawolf won’t take a standard raster monitor.
On the working side of things, we like the Maximum Force game at $90. Shooters are always popular on our service and Maximum Force is a pretty cool game. The Xmen vs. Street Fighter game is also interesting at a $150 bid. It’s not the 4 player version, but you still have two of the most popular arcade franchises melded into a single game. We also like the UN Squadron at $150. This may not have been a popular game with the public, but it’s exactly the type of game that our service was designed to rescue. Being able to play some of the games that are off the beaten path is always an adventure and the airplane games never fail to delight my senses.
On the unusual side of things, there are two pallets stacked with PC monitors available for $5 each. There aren’t enough details to know if you could swap these tubes into a CRT or if the operator was using computer monitors to power their games, but they look to be a 19″ size and getting tubes in bulk can be challenging, so if you have the space for them, it may be a profitable venture if you can get them to play nice with the games. The waffle maker at $35 could also be fun, if you like making your own waffle cones at home.
We hate to see another operator leaving the business, but do hope that this opens up opportunities for other operators in the Northwest region. If you can scoop up a bunch of cheap games and turn them into income on our website, it makes it a lot easier to free up space and to justify bidding on a few lowball games that you might not normally take a chance.
Beyond the initial selection that you see online, we’ve also done a good job of hoarding arcade games. Each week we hope to release new titles for our members to enjoy. If you see a game that you like, you can sign up here
Terminator 2 – Gunfight may have been our first shooter listed on the service, but Terminator 2 is a shooter of a different caliber. One of the more modern games in our portfolio, you must take on Skynet in an effort to save humanity. With a storyline that is based largely on the film of the same name, it offers multiple settings to challenge your best sharpshooting skills.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – If there’s one thing that we’ve learned since launching our arcade rental service, is that the heavier the game is, the more popular it is with the public. TMNT is no exception. A fabulously designed beat em up game where you use all your ninja skills in order to save April and Splinter from Shedder’s evil clutches.
Pole Position II – One of the all time classic racing games. Use your driving skills to shift back and forth past the competition as you handle hair raising turns and unexpected oil slicks that get in your way. Almost identical to the original Pole Position, except it offers improved graphics and four different courses.
Nastar Warrior – The sequel to the Rastan saga, Nastar Warrior allows you to live out life as a barbarian in a very hostile environment. It’s a side scrolling platform game that offers a lot of opportunities to slash, dash and jump you way to victory. Its what Mario Brother’s would have been like if they ended up in real life dungeon lair instead of that sissy castle that the princess was locked in. Collect swords throughout the game to power up your weapons for even more sizzle.
Relief Pitcher – Given how well the Giants have done lately, we think this will be a popular game with local customers. It was originally a prototype unit and has joysticks with Atari engraved into the top of them. A true treat for any sports fans. You get to take turns pitching and batting against the computer or another player.
Buck Rogers and The Planet of Zoom – Fans of the Buck Rogers TV show will love this game adapted from the sci-fi series. It’s a racing game where you must pilot you ship around a series of obstacles while firing away at incoming alien ships. Eerilly similar to some of the Star Wars games that game before it, you can tell that the game was influenced by the competition it faced. A fun game, but you have to master the timing to get far. Too fast and you’ll spin out of control, too slow and you’ll be turned into a floating wreckage.
One of the arcade industry’s dirty little secrets is that the games weren’t always designed for the end consumer. Often times the publishers would engineer the games so that they would be more appealing to the operators who they were selling them to. All of those random obstacles that come out of nowhere the first time you play a level are what we like to call quarter suckers. Most games are impossible to beat on one quarter because they wanted to turn the machines over faster, so that operators could serve more customers.
In our Motorace USA instruction manual, they even put insert in a little comedy with this gem of a quote.
“How far the player gets can indicate whether game settings are bringing you a satisfactory return on your investment! You’ll want to pay particular attention to players’ reception of the game for this reason: it takes about two minutes to get from LA to Vegas. We’ve found that two minute games both satisfy players and also keep the quarters flowing.”
I’m not sure about you, but I wouldn’t call 2 minutes “satisfying”, so we’ve put all of our games onto free play and when there is a continue option we enable it in the game. This lets you actually beat games that would have cost a fortune to get to the end of, in an actual arcade.
Before letting any game go out for the first time, we like to give it a quarter sucker test. We play for about 15 – 30 minutes and then count all the credits that we spent trying to beat the game. Out of all of the games in our collection, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles currently sits at the top of our list, but we’re almost finished restoring our Gauntlet and we hear that the Atari classic may give TMNT a run for its money. Curiously enough the Simpsons, which is a very similar game doesn’t seem to have quite as many booby traps so it’s lower on the quarter sucking rankings. All of these games have an advantage over other games in that they support four players at once.
My personal quarter sucker when I was growing up, was the game Spy Hunter. Without a doubt, I spent over $75 on that game, even before considering 30 years of inflation. The memories were worth every quarter spent.
If you grew up during the 80s or 90s, you probably have fond memories of playing video games at the arcades. Unfortunately after the consoles came out, it became much harder to attract visitors and all, but a small handful of physical arcades remain. The games themselves didn’t go away quite as easily. Up until 6 years ago, an arcade operator could put their games out on route and make enough income to live a modest life.
Many would put their games into laundrymatts or restaurants and even though these classics were 25 years old, people still loved to play them and it generated income for them to live off of. When the smartphone came out though, it changed the entire industry. Games that you could once find in restaurants and other locations have all, but disappeared because when people have idle time, they are stuffing digital dollars into their apps, instead of quarters into our games. The result has been nothing short of devastating for the entire arcade industry and if this trend continues, the games will all but disappear as time continues to march on.
We think that there are hundreds of thousands of consumers who would love to be able to relive the classic arcade experience once again and to support an industry that has seen better days. We also think that there are 1000s of arcade operators with massive portfolios of games in storage, who would love to earn income again. With many party rentals running in excess of $300 per game, there isn’t demand for a large number of games, so we started All You Can Arcade to help create a mass market for our games.
We’re located in Antioch CA and own 150 games in our own inventory. Available immediately, you can rent a game on our website for $75 a month with free pickup and delivery. Each month, you can keep your game if it’s a favorite, choose a different game that you want to try and we’ll swap them out for free or you can cancel your membership at anytime, as long as you give us at least 3 days notice before you’re rental period is set to renew. We’ve launched the site with 30 games that are available in the San Francisco and Sacramento area, but we set up our site so that anyone who owns a game can take a photo of it, input the maximum number of miles that they’re willing to drive and our system will automatically match up local operators with people in their neighborhood that want to rent games in their home or office. We pay our operators 75% of all revenue that comes in.
By offering a price that’s both fair to customers and to the hard working men and women who restore and care for these games, we hope to inject new energy into the industry and to create a restoration movement for the games. We hope that you’ll help us by renting your favorite games, telling your friends who own games, that they can start earning income on them again or even just by sending us an email at Tim@allyoucanarcade.com letting us know that you’d be interested in joining, as soon as we find games that are available in your neighborhood. If you’re an arcade operator who owns games and are interested in learning more about our program, please feel free to submit your contact information at the following link and we’ll be happy to get back to you shortly.
We thank you for supporting the arcade industry and for helping us create a new golden age of gaming for the arcade games.