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How Much Do Arcade Games Earn?

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You know what hasn’t gone out of style, and probably will not go out of style? Arcade games. No matter what era you are in, arcade games are always around. People will still fight you over who is better at a Super Mario game, you are still able to settle your differences in a sparring match on Street Fighter. And you know who gets the best deal out of all this sparring and posturing? Yes! That’s right! The owner. While your goal is to beat someone’s high score, to the owner, it is a way to feed his family and make a living.

So How Much Do Arcade Games Earn

Arcade Machines can earn different amounts depending on how much is charged per game, and how many games are in the arcade. A game like Pac-Man could earn a higher revenue than a more obscure arcade game because of its popularity.

If you would like to know more about the earning potential of arcade games, keep reading or check out this video!

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Model Pricing

Most people might look at it this way, that games are cheap thus the business is not profitable. But think about the money you can spend during a day at an arcade. Then after that, think about the money others spend on the arcade games like, let’s say, Pac- man.

Your profit depends upon your model pricing. Basically there are 3 models of pricing in arcade games which are:

  • Charge Per Coins and Tokens

This was the first and most common model of pricing for playing arcade games. It involves buying coins and tokens so you can insert them into an arcade games and play.

  • Charge On Entry Per Play

The method was introduced by Dave and Busters, which is one of the most successful arcade brands. This method involves charging an upfront fee to the customers for play, and then also charging for the games.

  • Charge Per Time

The model is very effective really. It charges customers per time duration, so the longer they play, the more it costs.

Thus, in all these models, an arcade game can actually bring in up to ten thousand dollars annually.

Cost Structure

The following are the common known rates for games in the arcade:

  • Cost Per Coins

One coin represents one game

One coin costs – 50 cents or 1 dollar depending on the arcade

  • Charge On Entry Per Play

This is very hard to determine the cost since everyone has his/her own model according to the way they run their business. It must be a decent price to enter to entice guests, while still making enough to pay employees and pay bills.

  • Charge On Entry Per Play

The cost usually covers five dollars for fifty cents, so basically 10 dollars an hour.

As we saw that arcade games can make you up to a ten thousand dollar check a year, now we are going to look at the top selling arcade games.

  • Pac-Man

Perhaps it’s the most famous arcade game on the planet. The game consists of a big head swallowing (Pac-Man) while moving around a maze. The game was first introduced in 1980 and since then Pac-Man has become the real deal. Its success is mainly because it was different from all the other arcade games, all aged games, non-violent and very entertaining. It still holds the record of the most arcade games sold in the world with a number of four hundred thousand arcade games sold. Thus it has generated the revenue of three billion, 5 hundred million dollars to this date.

  • Space Invaders

This was among the first ever arcade game in history. The game was directly themed space and laid the foundation to many more arcade games to come. The game was heavily influenced by its previous predecessor, which was computer space. Before Pac-Man came in and stole the show, Space Invaders used to hold the crown since the 70’s. Space Invaders had a total number of three hundred and sixty thousand games sold being behind Pac-Man by just forty thousand games. The arcade game whooped an income revenue of two billion seven hundred and two thousand dollars. This made it the second highest earning arcade game in history.

  • Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition

This is the most successful CAPCOM game in history. It’s also the bestselling versus combat arcade game in history. Street Fighter 2 came and saved the arcade business in 1987 when the arcade business was going downhill. What was most astonishing about this was its quick sales after its release (60,000). And if you think this was astonishing, wait until you hear this. In the 92 Champion edition, an upgraded version of two was released and it sold one hundred and forty thousand arcade ganes on its first day. The upgrade brought down the first mirror versus combat mode. Thus the game sold a total of two hundred thousand arcade machines and earned a revenue of two billion three hundred and twelve thousand dollars.

  • Ms. Pac-Man

Perhaps Bally Midway was the first gaming company to profit out of gender balance in arcade gaming. The arcade game was designed to attract women, but it didn’t stop men from playing it as well. With four new mazes and unpredictability in the ghost movements, Ms. Pac-Man surely took a win at this game. They even changed the color of the Pac-Man avatar into pink to make it more appealing for women. The game sold a total number one hundred and twenty five thousand arcade games. It also hit the revenue of one billion and two hundred thousand dollars.


Probably the best selling sports game in the history of arcade games. The NBA Jam received quiet success in 93 by exceeding the expectations of its predecessor, Arch Rivals, by a mile after earning the license to use the NBA name and its teams. Ever heard this catchphrase ‘’Boomshakalaka’’? Yep! It came from this game. The game sold twenty thousand arcade games and it pocketed a revenue of one billion and one hundred thousand dollars all made out of insert coins. Thus the game also was very impactful in terms of influencing young growing kids into playing basketball and increasing knowledge of fan-ship in basketball.


Although the arcade business had made a lot of business owners profit, an arcade setup was very expensive. It required you to have at least more than 5 arcade games for a normal small arcade game business and the machine cost a lot back then. Arcade games can earn different amounts depending on how much is charged per game, how many games are in the arcade. A game like Pac-Man could earn a higher revenue than a more obscure arcade game. The nostalgia gets us all and will last a lot longer than anyone first realized. 

If you love to play arcade games but cannot afford an original arcade machine there are newer options available that are skill models of the original games but they are a lot cheaper. They normally only run a few hundred dollars rather than a few thousand.

They normally contain one or more original games and they are just as fun to play as the original arcade machines. If you are looking for one of these arcade machines they can be purchased right here