Arcade cabinets and virtual pinball machines have been duking it out for floor space since the dawn of gaming. While the explosion of arcade gaming shouldered many pinball machines out of arcades in the 80s, they’ve since been biffed back into mainstream play.
Modern barcades have rows of arcade cabinets and pinball machines, drawing both gamers and pinheads alike. Ideally, most gamers would love to have both in their gaming dens. Realistically, you may not have the same luxury of space or budget as your neighbourhood barcade.
If you grew up losing your pennies and hours to both, choosing can feel impossible. We’ve created a guide for everyone ping ponging between joysticks and buttons or flippers and plungers.
Let’s address the big bad boss in the middle of the room: cost. Time has not made arcade cabinets and pinball machines cheaper, the only downside of being able to create the dream arcade games machine you’ve wanted ever since you were a kid.
With arcade cabinets, the entry price for a good machine is around £1,000. You can grab our GT-Stand Up Arcade Machine for £995. While its design is more subdued compared to our custom units, it still puts over six thousand titles at your fingertips.
Pinball machines are pricier. Traditional units can cost as much as a car. If you don't mind emulation, check out the King-Pin. Priced at £5,995.00, this virtual pinball machine is engineered to replicate the visuals and haptics of a mechanical machine, letting you bring pinball home without breaking the bank.
Second to price, size is the next consideration you can’t avoid when choosing machines. Unlike the sleek consoles of today, they made them big in the ‘80s and ‘90s. You’ll need to account for floor space, getting the machine through doors, and how you’ll get upwards of 100 kilograms of machinery up or down stairs.
Arcade cabinets are pretty diverse in size and shape, making them the more flexible choice if you’re strapped for space. Synergy units can take the place of your coffee table. Nu-Gen machines are wider, designed after Japanese-style sit-down cabinets. If floor space is really at a premium, you can grab a bartop machine and sit it on your desk.
While electronic arcade pinball machines have crazy and complex layouts, their chassis generally follow the same shape and size. There’s no cramming a playfield onto a bartop or coffee table. Machines are typically 192cm tall and 72cm wide, give or take some units with wider and taller backboxes.
Yes, prices are steep for arcade cabinets and pinball machines. But a single purchase can move an entire arcade’s worth of games into your basement. Today’s emulation software lets us load thousands of games into a machine.
Our arcade cabinets don’t just stop at the likes of Pac-Man or Space Invaders. You can even play titles from retro consoles like the SNES and Mega Drive. Most cabinets are also compatible with MAME and emulators, so you can slot in any favourites that aren’t on our list.
Traditional pinball machines are limited to one playfield. But the King-Pin virtual machine packs a 2TB hard drive within its chassis, which lets it emulate up to 500 of the most iconic pinball playfields to exist. Bounce balls between the strange and terrible world of the Twilight Zone, or fling balls with The Thing on the Addams Family table.
Like PCs, custom built pinball machines and arcade cabinets are subject to your whims. You can swap out parts or change designs based on your budget and aesthetic.
All our arcade machines for sale start out with standard systems that offer an amazing experience on their own. But every component is customisable if you want to level up your machine, from marquees that change artwork with every game, to joysticks and buttons.
Over on the pinball side, you can turn the King-Pin into a machine truly worthy of the crown with an impressive array of hardware and software additions. We can add motors that increase vibration, or a kit that uses eye/head tracking to create depth so realistic you’ll feel like you’re staring into a playfield with actual moving parts.
After the budget is wrangled and the floor space cleared, it all comes down to what you’ll have the most fun with. Pinball machines and arcade cabinets offer two completely different experiences.
Arcade games endure because they’re a small leap to an endless amount of fun. It’s hard to beat the replayability of retro games, even by modern standards. You probably have one playthrough of God of War in you, but you’ll always be game for a round of Pac-Man. There’s something immensely rewarding about getting just good enough to beat your last high score–or a friend’s.
Every pinball machine is a love letter written in music, lights, and physics. The most iconic machines plunged gamers into the world of whatever movie or band it was designed after. Midway’s The Addams Family is a beautiful and chaotic tornado of movie references, including a swivelling secret bookcase passage just like the one Gomez owns.
Ready to take the plunge? Or perhaps press start? Send us a message or give us a call if you’re still undecided and we can help you figure out which retro machine will satisfy that urge to play.