guide to collecting classic arcade game machines

Classic Arcade Game Collecting: 5 Expectations

There is a story behind every collection. From the baseball card collection that takes you back to the smells and sounds of the ballpark to the collector still hooked on turning the pages of their comic book collection, still enthralled by the art and action. All a collection requires is a passionate person behind it - anything can be collected!

Classic arcade games are no different. From the first Atari cabinet to Pac-Man to Donkey Kong to pop culture tie-ins like The Simpsons and X-Men, there are many highly sought-after arcade games out there. That being said, collecting isn't for the faint of heart. Some things you might want to collect may be incredibly expensive, and some things you collect may also drop in value later.

Today, we want to share 5 things about classic arcade game collecting that you should expect before getting started:


1) You're Going To Spend Money For Quality, But It's Worth It

Collecting classic arcade games is an expensive endeavor. There are no $10 mystery boxes that might hold a hidden gem and even the rare garage sale find will run you market prices. Games will routinely run thousands of dollars a pop. This type of collecting will require some capital.

If you’re going to get into collecting classic arcade games, just understand that will be more for the love of the game than anything else. With the cost of picking one up, an ample profit margin isn’t likely to be there. Now, you could pick a game that then later sees a massive increase in value, but that is a huge and ill-advised gamble to make.


2) They're Worth More Than You Think

Stories like the couple who discovered a copy of Detective Comics #27 (first-ever appearance of Batman if you’re wondering) being used as insulation in their home as they remodeled captures the imagination. They send us off on our own Indiana Jones-like journey to score our crown jewel find. 

Unfortunately, that type of find just isn’t going to happen in collecting arcade games. You might believe that you can go to your local gaming store and buy a classic arcade game for less than $50. However, the reality is that they will actually cost thousands of dollars.

This isn’t meant to discourage you from starting your collection, just don't think its going to happen for cheap. Just know you're going to have to spend some money on it, and it will cost you more than you expect.

3) The Harder They Are To Find, The More They're Worth

One rule of collecting is universal, the harder it is to find, the more it is worth. While there are definitely exceptions, the most sought-after classic arcade games are the hardest to find. 

It’s also important to note that some games have seen re-releases so if you're in the market for the first run of Pac-Man machines make sure that’s what you’re getting before agreeing to buy.  


4) There's A Ton Of Classic Arcade Games You Can Collect

If you're going to collect classic arcade games and do so successfully, you need to make sure that you know what makes a classic. The better prepared you are to spot a find, the easier it will be to add pieces to your collection that will be meaningful to you while avoiding buyer's remorse.

While things like Pong, Asteroids, and Pac-Man are great classics, there are also hundreds of games that may be worth more than those three.

You’ll want to do your research on what the rarest and most valuable arcade games are. There are plenty of resources online that will help you make informed decisions as you start collecting.


5) You're Going To Own A Lot Of Games

As one would expect, as your collection grows, your space will begin to evaporate. It’s part and parcel with collecting and unless you’re only after one game, it will happen to you too.

The upside of collecting classic arcade games is that it’s a great way to build your own arcade! Owning a lot of different games will only add to the fun for you and your family. Not only that, but you can curate your collection to have games that will appeal to a wide variety of players.



Now, the above expectations may paint classic arcade game collecting in a bad picture. However, the reality is that it is what makes collecting exciting in the first place! We all love a good sprinkle of mystery behind the things we collect, and thanks to that, our cravings to collect can never be satisfied. Really, your classic arcade game collecting experience will be unique to you, but if there is one guarantee, it is the fact that you will have a great time hunting and collecting old-time greats to add to your collection.

Game Exchange is a full-line distributor of new and used coin-operated games and equipment. If you are looking for arcade games for sale and more in the US, check out what we have to offer!

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Denver, CO 80204


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