So you’ve decided to embark on a quest to own your own arcade cabinet. Good work–you’re one step closer to creating the gaming den of your dreams (and you’re in the right place).
Before you ever get to press play, there are a number of factors you need to consider to get the most out of your money. Cabinets aren’t cheap but they’re a fantastic investment in gaming fun for years, if not decades to come.
With nearly 20 years in the industry, we’ve seen all sorts of requests and demands over the years. From experience, these are the five things you’ll need to think about while shopping around for the best arcade machine to buy.
The search typically begins at pricing. The range can vary significantly based on what type of machine you want, and how tricked out you want it to be. Our upright cabinet models begin at £995. However, if you want a beast of a machine with over 35,000 games rendered by a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card, our Evo Elite costs over £5000.
Factor customisation into your budget. At Bespoke Arcades, we tailor every machine to the exact specifications of its owner. Owning an arcade machine is a dream come true for gamers, and we do our level best to make it look exactly as you imagine it. So begin your hunt with a list of all the things you want in your machine, from the number of games to the colour of the trim.
While some touches come for free, like basic colour options for the edging, others can be done for a fee. For instance, you can upgrade to illuminated buttons for £80, or dress your machine in fully customised graphics for £350. If you’re a power player with the need for granular control, a pair of Sanwa 4-8 Way Powered Servo Joysticks is only £150 away.
Space & Logistics
Let’s address the pixelated elephant in the room: arcade cabinets are big. Part of how to buy an arcade machine is figuring out how to move it. You’ll need precise measurements of your setup. You’ll want to leave at least 2 feet or around 30cm of free space in front of the machine, more if you’re buying a multi-player cabinet.
Standard classic upright cabinets may be out of the question if you don’t have dedicated space for machines although some of our stand-ups (GTs and Apex) are more streamlined than ever before and are designed to fit quite comfortably no matter the size of your space. However, you can also opt for sit-down or coffee table cabinet types, which neatly double as furniture so you don’t have to carve out fresh floor space.
Lastly, consider how you’re going to get the machine into your house. Cabinets weigh 65 kg to 100 kg, depending on the model. That’s about as heavy as a washing machine. We recommend roping in two able-bodied friends to help–or you can upgrade shipping and we’ll send a one-man or two-man team to help move it inside and up/down stairs.
What You Want To Play
Cutting edge emulation technology has turned most of our cabinets into arcade machine multi games hubs that house virtually an entire generation’s worth of arcade machine and older console games. Even our entry level BA Play option gives you 20,000+ retro games to play with, including all the arcade titles as well as beloved favourites from the Atari 2600, Game Boy Advance, and the Megadrive.
That’s more than a lifetime of games to work through, not to mention incredibly cost effective if you’re looking for a commercial arcade machine. You’ll also want to consider adding peripherals to suit the games you love. There’s nothing quite like playing Time Crisis with a lightgun, Centipede with a trackball or Arkanoid with a spinner.
But maybe you don’t need thousands of games, just a handful of favourites for you and your mates to relive. With our GT machines, we offer gamepacks that range from 60, 120, 500, 1500, and 2500 titles. If you’re not sure whether the game you’re looking for is included in the list, we’d be glad to help you narrow it down, no matter how obscure.
Looks & Style
Say you’ve got the budget, space, and logistics of buying an arcade cabinet sorted out. The next thing you’ll have to pick is the design of your machine. Unlike the monolithic design of modern consoles, the sky’s the limit with your own custom arcade cabinet.
Your machine is a canvas, and you’re in charge of how flashy or minimalist the final product will be. And it’s not only a matter of choosing a skin or a decal. Everything on an arcade cabinet can be customised, from the colour of the edging, to the material, to the sideart.
You can use your own custom design, or have us pull up old arcade cabinet artwork if you’re determined to recreate your favourite arcade cabinet from yesteryear. The graphics of the control panel and marquee are also totally up to you, so please don’t hesitate to get creative.
Arcade Machine Accessories
By now you’ve already got a pretty concrete idea of what your dream cabinet will look like. Next thing you’ll have to think about is controls. All our cabinets are fitted with joysticks and buttons, but you’re free to tweak what types are built into your machine.
First, joysticks and buttons. Do you want concave or convex buttons? Are you partial to Sanwa or Happ style sticks? Sanwa sticks can play better for games that call for precise 8-way directional input, such as Street Fighter 2. Or you may not care for clicking and prefer quieter Happ sticks that pull more forcefully back to centre.
You can also choose to install specialised control types like trackballs, spinners, steering wheels, and lightguns–whatever you need to play your favourites as intended. If your fingers are itching to play using retro console controllers from the SNES or the SEGA Saturn, you can opt to add USB versions that you can plug-and-play, no fiddling with wires necessary.