ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Wed Dec 3 05:57:35 CST 2008
On Sun, Nov 30, 2008 at 10:35 PM, Philip Belben <philip at axeside.co.uk> wrote:
> Ethan provided a long, informative reply to my post:
>>> There's a shop in Coalville...
>>> In the window this weekend were two machines that caught my eye: an
>>> original Space Invaders... from 1978... 895 pounds; and a pinball
>>> machine from 1979... 495
> Ah. Yes. In the US, prices may well be depressed by there being no coins
> in common circulation above a quarter dollar.
Indeed, though plenty of games (Space Invaders included, ISTR) can be
set to require multiple quarters per credit. The "problem" is that so
many games were one-coin-per-credit for so long that it's rather
etched into the expectations of paying customers, no matter the
purchase power difference between $0.25 in 1978 and 2008. Some games
were $0.50 per play from day one; "Dragon's Lair" comes to mind. I
know that one can be set for 3 credits for 5 coins or similar odd
payment schemes meant to maximize revenue, but these days, the effect
monetary inflation has had is to encourage large operators ("Dave and
Busters" and other adult arcades) to go with swipe cards - that way
they can have certain hours cost certain amounts or make it easy to
play $20 because you don't feel the quarters going into the machine
(taking the sting out of paying $0.75 for a game of pinball).
> The slots on the front of the Space Invaders machine said "50p" on them -
> that seems to be about 70 or 80 US cents at the moment. At your
> calculation, 895 pounds would only take 1790 games to pay off the debt -
> five games a day for a year - which is a much more attractive figure. Many
> arcade games here now accept one pound coins, so if the owner did that
> conversion, the game could pay for itself quicker still.
Indeed. I did notice on my first trip to Europe (in 1985) that
everywhere I went, video games cost substantially more to play than
they did in the US.
I would say that 5 games a day for a year wouldn't be attractive for
an operator. Entirely coincidentally, since this thread started, I've
started staying with a friend in NZ who happens to repair arcade games
in Christchurch. His boss is the classic stingy operator ("it's all
about the money, not the love"). I asked him about older games - he
said they don't pay for the floor space. His clientele is mostly
teenagers, not "aging hipsters", and largely Asian, given where in
town the arcades are. A completely different demographic than a Dave
and Busters in the States. He didn't have exact numbers to share with
me, but my impression is that if a game isn't playing a lot more than
5 paid games an hour, it's pulled and something else is dropped in its
> (FWIW our 50p coins got smaller in 1997, so there's a chance the coin
> mechanism would need converting anyway.)
Ah... good point. That hasn't happened in the US. At auction,
machines with coin mechs sell more than ones without, but that's
because the acceptance mech is a module that drops in - you can get
mechs for US quarters, presumably Canadian quarters (high steel
content, so the magnetic diverter has to be different), and several
styles of tokens - popular at one point, but now supplanted largely by
swipe cards. FWIW, my Gorf and Xenophobe cabinets have US quarter
mechs. You can also buy these on the aftermarket for your MAME
cabinet or for "real" games for your basement for that authentic feel
- they are not cheap.
>> I have a few games on my list I'd like to get... The time has somewhat
>> passed to see games from the
>> B&W 8080 and earlier era at auction on a regular basis...
>> These are all older than Space Invaders.
> Interesting. IIRC Space Invaders spanned the BW/colour divide. Later games
> had colour displays, but earlier ones had monochrome displays with strips of
> colour filter over the screen. I don't know when the change came, or which
> version this one is.
Yes. Several of these games I'm interested in are the B&W tube with colored
gels or half-silvered mirrors and painted artwork to spruce up the blocky
mono graphics. In 1978, B&W was still common. By 1979 or 1981 at the
latest, I'd think, color was more common. There are plenty of arcade machine
sites on the web with timelines and dates, so it shouldn't be hard to find the
transition using real-world examples.
> Thanks, Ethan, for an interesting window onto a world I hardly know at all.
You bet. There are plenty of others here who know lots more, so they are
free to amend or supplant anything I've said from their own experiences, but
I think what I've said covers a number of aspects of this genre.
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