Roller Coaster Tycoon Pinball Machine

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Pinball Machine

Pinball machines are the original arcade game. Before video games changed the gaming industry forever, there were the sounds of bumpers and flippers dinging across the country. The game was a staple from the Depression Era through the ‘70’s and has now become a highly sought after collectors item. It’s no surprise that many pinball fanatics today are eager to get their hands on this classic gaming machine.

The History of Pinball

Pinball machines as we know them are a far cry from the pool tables we are familiar with but the games have a shared lineage. An off-shoot of billiards, Bagatelle, became popular with French nobility in the 18th century. The game involved using a small cue or pusher that is set on a slanted table where players would aim for holes on the playing surface. The holes themselves were guarded by pegs (starting to sound familiar?). During the early 1780s, the French soldiers brought their bagatelles with them.

The game would continue to be popular into the next century. So much so, that in 1871 a toy manufacturer in Cincinnati named Montague Redgrave patented “The Improved Game of Bagatelle” which would replace the cue with the now iconic springed plunger.

In 1931, Automatic Industries was formed in Youngstown, Ohio after a carpenter modified a bagatelle board for his daughter as a Christmas gift. After noticing the popularity of the game with his daughter and her schoolmates, he sought to sell more models in his friend’s radio shop. The shop owning friend was skeptical and suggested he devise a coin operated device that would require folks to pay to play. The game would come to be known as Whiffle Board and, in turn, it would launch an industry.

Chicago’s In & Out-Door Games Company Inc., presented the Whoopee Game which combined the springed plunger with a coin-operated, giving birth to the modern pinball machine.

Pinball Machines Showroom at Game Exchange of Colorado

How to Choose a Game Title

From vintage models to commemorative tables celebrating pop culture icons, which title you choose will have a massive impact on its long term value. While manufacturer, age, and condition will also factor in, the title itself will matter most in determining a table’s value.

If you’re just getting into pinball and aren’t too familiar with the most popular games, choosing one can feel like a bit of a crapshoot. Luckily there are now plenty of resources and databases about game titles online. These sites offer the perfect starting point to research game titles so that your purchase can be an informed one.

It’s good to have a general idea of the game types you want to invest in. Many pinball titles are related to pop culture that appeals to gamers and fandoms. You might be amazed as to how many bands, movies, and television shows have had a pinball game manufactured in their honor (and yes, for a licensing fee as well).

If you’re looking for an investment piece, an antique machine may seem like the way to go. However, in this instance that is rarely the case. Many of these machines have already reached their peak value and aren’t likely to appreciate much more. There is a caveat that if a machine is still considered to be in mint condition, it may continue to increase in value. However, this will require that it remains so after changing hands.

It may be better to consider a highly sought after game in great shape as these machines tend to maintain or even increase in value over time. That way, should you ever decide to part with your pinball machine, you should at least be able to break even.

Of course, none of this matters if all you want is to see who can set the new high score. Pick a machine that you will love to have in your home. Just make sure you have ample space to fit it in your game room and you’re good to go.

Pinball Machines and Their Value

When you know your stuff and know what to look for in a pinball machine, the better the chances are that your machine will hold or grow in value. However, keep in mind that it’s fairly difficult to find pinball machines worth keeping as investment pieces.

The Bottomline

Pinball machines are one of the few classic games that are still around. You can find them at any arcade, bar or even part of a collection. Whether you are a pinball fan or collector, it’s good to know the basics of this classic game. In the end, choose a good machine to play for the enjoyment of pinball and worry less about it being an investment.

Game Exchange is a full-line distributor of new and used coin-operated games and equipment. We have a wide array of products for commercial and residential customers. Get your pinball machines here. We also have New Stern Pinball Machines Free Shipping Special.


Game Exchange of Colorado

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Denver, CO 80204



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