How much did arcade machines cost in the 80's? February 2023 (2023)

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Curious about the cost of an arcade machine today versus the cost of one in the 80's? Maybe you're just curious about the difference in cost between what they used to cost and what they cost now. No matter why you are here, we are here to answer your questions!

How much did arcade machines cost in the 80's?

The average cost of an arcade machine in the 1980s was about $3,000 to $4,000. Although some arcade machines have been as expensive as $20,000 and others as cheap as $2,000. In today's money, the $20,000 machine would cost almost $160,000!

We are very fortunate that over time the companies have been able to keep the prices of the machines they manufacture down, and even today most arcade machines are only a few thousand dollars to buy. In this article we take you into the world of arcade machines and what they cost and why they cost so much.

If you'd rather watch a video instead of reading the article, you can do so below.

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How much did arcade machines cost in the 80's? February 2023 (1)

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Price development of amusement machines

Slot machines have been around for over a hundred years. Also known as slot machines, they were first introduced in the early 1920s as fortune tellers or to play music.

Arcade machines today bring up the idea of ​​video game arcade machines because they were the most successful and popular form of the machine. For many years, these arcade video slot machines were considered the most creative and innovative machines in the world. Arcade machines are still produced and sold by a large number of manufacturers today.

Arcade machines have changed a lot over time and especially since the 70's, sometimes as a simple evolution and sometimes as a complete revolution.

In this article we will look at 10 of the most important arcade machines of the past and their costs.

Galaxy Game price history (1971)

Released in 1971, the Galaxy game was the first arcade machine to charge users to play. The cost of a game on this machine was 10 cents for a single game or 25 cents for 3 games. It was installed by students at Stanford University.

While this wasn't the first arcade game, it was the first arcade game to charge people for the experience.

The hardware alone costs $20,000 (about $160,000 today).

Pong (1972) price history

Available for $3,000, $4,300, and $4,500, Pong came with three different versions of the arcade game. It was the first game developed by Atari and brought fame and success to the company. Even many unofficial clones of this arcade game have been created.

The game made many people so obsessed that a prototype arcade machine set up in a bar near Atari headquarters was so full of coins that it stopped working.

Space Invaders (1978) price history

This was the greatest arcade game ever released. It had quite a successful run when it was released, and the revolutionary gameplay and brand awareness continues to this day.

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It is the second best-selling arcade slot machine of all time. Many people also believed that Space Invaders was the game that ushered in the golden age of the video game era. It also set the template for all first-person shooters that came after it. It has been sold at various locations for prices ranging from $2,000 to $3,000.

Pac-Man Prize Story (1980)

This arcade machine was manufactured by Namco and introduced the use of mascots to the gaming world. The name derives from the Japanese expression "Paku-Paku", which means "open and close mouth".

Pac Man is the best-selling arcade machine of all time and is still produced in various formats to this day. The cost of this arcade machine was $2400 each (currently around $7000).

Price history of Dragon's Lair (1983)

Released in 1983, Dragon's Lair wasn't really one of the best games out there. In fact, this game was considered terrible. It was hard to control and it really didn't end. The loading time was very slow and it was much more expensive to play than most other arcade games at the time.

The game's animation was created by Don Bluth, a former Disney animator. However, the game looked very flashy, which was its selling point. It was in LaserDisc format, which allowed for many possibilities and changes to the arcade experience.

It cost players 50 cents to play, and the hardware sold at a starting price of $4,200.

Outrun (1986) price history

Outrun, released in 1986, was an arcade driving game with a cab-style cabinet. While not the first of its kind, Outrun brought a lot of sophistication to the arcade experience. This arcade machine was really big in the 1980's and it was just damn good.

The cost of this arcade machine ranged from $3,500 to $5,000.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) price history

Teenage Mutant Turtles, or "TMNT" as it was popularly known, was the best arcade game that could be licensed. It was a very fantastic game where four players could compete against each other or play cooperative games. While it wasn't the first four-player cooperative arcade game, it did set the pace for the head-to-head feature.

It had amazingly tight controls, digitized voice, and even beautiful and clear graphics. This game reigned supreme until 1992, when Konami released the 6-player arcade game X-Men. The game costs around $4000.

Street Fighter II (1991) price history

Streetfighter II released in 1991 is another amazing game from the past. It had the best fighting game concepts and between 8 and 16 characters depending on which version of the game was purchased.

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With great animated characters, great music and amazing controls, Street Fighter game was the best out there at the time. The cost was around $1900 and up.

Mortal Kombat (1992) price history

Mortal Kombat was released in 1992 after the arcade machine Street Fighter II. It had fully digitized characters and graphics even better than its rival Street Fighter II.

With lots of violent moves and the legendary fatal endings, the game has captivated many people and left them wanting more and more. Hardware costs were around $2500 and up.

Dance Dance Revolution (1998) price history

Dance Dance Revolution was also an arcade slot that spread like wildfire upon its release. DDR game developed by Konami has everyone addicted. From old to young, men and women, everyone wanted to dance and be the best dancer.

The game also holds a Guinness World Record! The longest East German marathon lasted 16 hours, 18 minutes and 9 seconds. It was a really immersive and addictive game that kept many people coming back regularly. Check out this video of the fastest feet in DDR history!

It cost between $15,000 and $17,000 at the time to get this arcade machine.


All of these arcade machines have been very important to the development of modern games, and many of them have found their way into the more digital platforms of console, PC, and mobile games.

Some of these games can still be purchased new today, while others are still in arcades around the world and are played by thousands of people every day.

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How much did arcade games cost to play in the 80s? ›

How much did it cost to play arcade machines in the United States in 1981? This was common, and it typically cost 1 credit to play.

How much does an average arcade machine cost? ›

How much are you willing to spend on a game? Arcade games can vary in cost from $1,500 for small table top models to over $29,000 for larger games that fully immerse the player. For commercial areas, the price can be recouped over time through the use of coin mechanisms, dollar bill acceptors, or card scanners.

Why were arcades popular in the 80s? ›

Put down your Halo headsets for a moment and remember, if you will, a time before “gaming.” In the early 1980s, video games were a still a standing sport, as much a social activity as entertainment. Arcades served as de facto recreation centers for a generation of soda guzzling, sticky fingered kids.

Which video arcade game was #1 in the year 1980? ›

The year's highest-grossing video game was Namco's arcade game Pac-Man, while the best-selling home system was Nintendo's Game & Watch.

How much did games cost in 1990? ›

An NES game in 1990 cost, on average, about $50. That's $89 in 2013 money. Your $70 N64 cartridges in 1998 would require the equivalent of $100 today. Heck, the $50 PlayStation 2 game you bought in 2005 is worth $60, the exact price of a typical retail game in 2013.

When did video games cost $60? ›

The $60 price point was effectively established at the start of the Xbox 360 / PS3 generation, back in 2005, with Activision in particular championing the new price point for the launch of its big headline franchises on the then-new consoles.

What did a Nintendo cost in the 80s? ›

When the NES launched in 1985 it was priced at $149.99 and came complete with Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, a light gun accessory for Duck Hunt and an extra controller.

How much did game Boys cost in the 90s? ›

The Game Boy is an 8-bit fourth generation handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989, in North America later the same year, and in Europe in late 1990.
Game Boy.
An original Game Boy
Introductory priceJP¥12,500 US$89.99 £69.99 DM169
DiscontinuedMarch 23, 2003
19 more rows

How much did video games cost in 1985? ›

New games were around $60 (about $130 adjusted for inflation). Games that had been out a while were around $40. Bargain bin games were still around $20 - $30, and those were the junky ones no one wanted.

Why did the arcade industry crash in 1983? ›

The crash was attributed to several factors, including market saturation in the number of video game consoles and available games, many of which were of poor quality, as well as waning interest in console games in favor of personal computers.

What were 80s arcades like? ›

Further proof 80s kids are still cooler than us Arcades served as de facto recreation centers for a generation of soda guzzling, sticky fingered kids. Pockets stuffed with quarters, they gathered in dark, carpeted rooms to shoot bad guys and chase frogs across busy motorways.


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