Arcade games

Philip Belben philip at
Sun Nov 30 03:35:01 CST 2008

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 machine from 1978, priced at 895 pounds; and a pinball
>> machine from 1979 (branded "Gottlieb") for an almost-as-unreasonable 495
>> pounds.  (I think at current exchange rates that's about $1300 and $700 US)
> OK.
>> ... what sort of an active market is there for such machines?  The prices looked
>> high enough that they must be aiming at serious collectors, or possibly
>> innkeepers who want to create a retro-seventies atmosphere.
>> So do people here know about the classic arcade game market?  Are my
>> neighbours of a couple of blocks away being overoptimistic with their
>> prices?
> I would personally not pay $1300 US for a real Space Invaders, but
> consider how many paid games that turns into - in the US, it would
> be $0.25/game (don't know about the UK.), so that's 5200 games.

Ah.  Yes.  In the US, prices may well be depressed by there being no 
coins in common circulation above a quarter dollar.

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.

(FWIW our 50p coins got smaller in 1997, so there's a chance the coin 
mechanism would need converting anyway.)

> I have a few games on my list I'd like to get.  Space and opportunity
> have limited me to just a couple.  Unfortunately, some of the games
> from my childhood are pre-microprocessor, so it's not even possible
> to play them on MAME.  I need the real thing or to build/program my
> own replica.  The time has somewhat passed to see games from the
> B&W 8080 and earlier era at auction on a regular basis, and when
> you do see them, they are not always in the best of shape, and if they
> are, they don't often go cheap.  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.

Thanks, Ethan, for an interesting window onto a world I hardly know at all.


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