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Upgrade Your Game Room: A Guide on Buying Arcade Cabinets

A game room, man cave, study, etc., is a time-honored tradition that most of us either have, or fantasize about having–our own personal hideaway where we can bring escapism into a living space that allows us to leave stress, work, and the whole world behind.

I bet that if you were to think about it, you’d know exactly what you’d want to put in a game room of your own. Some would want to buy original arcade cabinets, which get pretty pricey, but some just want to have the atmosphere, or are on a tight budget so that option may not work for them.

Now sure, you can bargain hunt on eBay or craigslist, and you can stake out storage auctions, but it’s going to take a lot more time than you may realize, and most people have access to the internet these days, and thus, know what novelty items such as original arcade cabinets can sell for. When that happens, you’re left trying to haggle down to a good deal and those conversations are always tricky.

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to play every PS4 game you own on a cabinet? Or maybe you have small children who may come in to play and you don’t feel like getting a stool out for them to stand on. Maybe you want a more modern arcade experience complete with skee ball and coin change machines.

I am going to present you with a few options that you may not have considered before. (Special note: this is not a sponsored article in any way. This is just one gamer recommending sites to fellow gamers! Please enjoy.)

#4—Game Room Guys

Game Room Guys is a company that sells everything you’d need if you wanted to build your own complete arcade as a business, or for personal enjoyment. They have traditional arcade cabinets, air hockey tables, foosball, pinball, ping pong, change machines, ATMs, everything you can imagine.

Got an old arcade cabinet that you want to fix up? They sell parts too. The actual cabinets range from about $2,400 all the way up to $35,000 if you’re looking to add the new Halo: Fireteam four-player set up.

Get their cabinets here!

#3—The Pinball Company

The Pinball Company is in the same vein as Game Room Guys. The price range is about the same, with a heavier focus on pinball machines, but that doesn’t mean they are limited on cabinets at all.

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The organization of the web page is, in my opinion, a little nicer than that of Game Room Guys, and going through their catalog, they have a nifty mechanical Pong game that’s designed like a coffee table. It’s beautiful to look at, and if you’re paying $4,000 for a game that you’ve seen every version of since the ‘70s, it had better be.

Get their stuff here!

#2—Rec Room Masters

Rec Room Masters is, I think, the most interesting one on the list. The company designs plug-and-play classic arcade cabinets that you can connect everything from a Raspberry Pi to an Xbox One X into. A bare-bones cocktail cabinet will run you $600. Prices go up from there depending on what style you want and if you want custom pieces. The one big drawback is that they don’t come with monitors in the cabinets, so you’ll have to pick up your own for the machines, but pay attention to max fitting sizes for each design.

Get their awesome stuff here!

#1—Arcade 1Up

By now it’s pretty unlikely you haven’t heard of Arcade 1Up.

This is the ideal option if you’re on a tight budget or you have small children, which tend to be hell on joysticks and buttons. Prices range from $250 to $400 depending on cabinet and retailer. Arcade 1Up cabinets feature a selection of classic games, but they are also smaller than a normal full-size cabinet, which may feel awkward. There has been a Walmart exclusive Pac-man edition in the past, so it may be best to see what they have on offer before going anywhere else.

These are just a few of the many options the World Wide Web has available. Which one will you pick?  Personally, I’m going to make some plans for the Rec Room Masters. I always wondered what Hatoful Boyfriend would look like in an arcade cabinet. It’s too bad I won’t be able to recreate the disgusted stares of strangers as I date a bunch of pigeons. I guess disgusting my family will have to be enough.

Find their stuff here!

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  1. Me: Looks at prices then looks at wallet, Pulls out Sad violin.

    • James Vasquez on May 14, 2019 at 10:07 pm said

      I won’t lie. The cost is an extreme barrier to entry. But as some people have said on the EG Twitter page, you can always build one yourself and put a Raspberry Pi inside. Honestly though, at that point I would just go with the Arcade 1Up cabinets because I don’t think there’s going to end up being that much of a price difference. Alternatively, there’s always those little handhelds they sell at Walmart now, which is especially helpful if, for instance, you don’t have a game room with space but you do have a shelf.

  2. Thanks for writing this. A very timely article for me as I’ve been more and more interested in fulfilling my dream of having a home arcade. My most likely option would be getting the Arcade1up cabinets with risers as they are cheaper and take up less space. If I could make dream arcade, some games I would want are:
    Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting
    Street Fighter III: Third Strike
    Pac-man/Galaga cocktail table
    Violent Storm
    Superchexx Hockey

    • James Vasquez on May 15, 2019 at 8:27 pm said

      The cocktail cabinets are my personal favorite aesthetically speaking, but nothing beats having a fighting game so you can assert dominance over your guests.

  3. Honestly you can build one yourself with some particle board and some LEDs and a raspberry pi and a decent HD or 4K TV. Probably the most costly part would be the detail on the cabinet sticker and glass cover for the top. the rest wouldn’t be that much. I’ve looked into building vs buying. really depends on how much of a DIYer or how lazy you are.

    • James Vasquez on May 15, 2019 at 6:51 pm said

      You are vastly understimating not only my laziness, but my ineptitude with power tools.

    • Ailingforale on May 15, 2019 at 7:56 pm said

      I helped a friend build one in college and while it was a bit of work, it was amazing! We didn’t put any fancy stickers or anything on it, so it did have a rough wood finish… but it still did it’s job.

  4. Captaincj2005 on May 15, 2019 at 6:57 pm said

    Any mame machines?

    • vontalken on May 15, 2019 at 8:53 pm said

      I think i’d prefer to have a mame cabinet or two in my room. also a video pinball machine. multiple games, easier space. cheaper to boot. just need good graphics.

  5. Captaincj2005 on May 15, 2019 at 6:57 pm said

    No mame machines?

  6. I’ve collected/refurbished arcade cabinets for years. TBH, it’s wearing on me to deal with authentic arcade hardware. When the JAMMA boards break, it’s very difficult to replace. They’re difficult to find for a decent price and even harder to sell nowadays. Nowadays, I prefer loading a bunch of emulators on a Raspberry Pi and using a USB keyboard (or gamepad) encoder for the controls.
    While it’s a little difficult to access the monitor, I find the 3/4 arcade cabinet from Rec Room Masters to be a good cabinet. I have built one and have another ready to go. I’m thinking of putting a wood laminate on the whole thing, so it looks better among home furniture.

    • James Vasquez on May 15, 2019 at 8:30 pm said

      I think Pi and Rec Room Cabinets are an excellent combination, especially if you’re short on space but want a variety of games.

  7. jethroj.simes on May 15, 2019 at 7:14 pm said

    Also, someone with a decent skill in woodwork could build a box fairly easy. These prices are pretty steep but I suppose you get a decent job done.

    • James Vasquez on May 15, 2019 at 8:31 pm said

      Quality, authentic machines are rarely cheap, but building yourself is always a viable option. Unless you’re like me and can’t walk a straight line, much less cut one with a table saw.

      • So this is heresy, I know, but what I did is buy an old arcade cabinet and gutted it. It was a 4-player Williams High Impact Football game, which I had zero interest in playing. Extremely sturdy. I got it for under $400 with a working arcade 25″ CRT in it. Then sold the game PCB, put in a crappy old PC and rebuilt the control panel. Turned out good and much cheaper even with an authentic CRT display.

        Arcade preservationists would be horrified. But it is an option.

  8. Gene Tan on May 15, 2019 at 7:33 pm said

    How I wish to have my own arcade room. 🙁

  9. Templar49 on May 15, 2019 at 8:21 pm said

    Would love to see more games as part of that Arcade1up series. Robotron has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.

  10. TheToastman on May 15, 2019 at 9:18 pm said

    Will there be any more follows up?
    I’ve been curious where to find glass display cases (big ass ones), av splitters, TV’s, essential memorabilia and etc. I prefer using a tube for my older systems Maybe even furniture, not that cheap ass stuff, perhaps custom? Just spit balling

    Nice article.

    • James Vasquez on May 21, 2019 at 5:27 pm said

      Thanks! I may do one in the future. I understand the desire to play cabinets as they were designed rather than updating with LCD screens.

  11. As a kid, I always loved going to the arcades. Some of my favorite machines were the toy cranes and the Pacman. I was really impressed that the Arcade 1Up cabinets are smaller than usual. This could be perfect for my home as I don’t have a lot of space but would love to introduce my children to these nostalgic memories.

    • James Vasquez on May 21, 2019 at 5:29 pm said

      The Arcade 1Up cabinets are great for kids. They’re the right height and they aren’t prohibitively expensive to where you don’t want risk them possibly breaking stuff.

  12. Space is another factor. I have a big house and I thought I could put in a 4-player cabinet, so I bought a vintage cabinet and got a CRT the whole thing. It was awesome, but I never got it out of garage. I love retro stuff, but not enough for this cabinet to dominate any room in my house. I ended up selling it and building a wall mounted 2-player rig with a LCD screen to reduce weight and save space. If I need a CRT fix I got a small PVM, but CRT shaders look great now on flatscreen 1080p monitors. Just my 2 cents.

  13. What a great article!! Thank you

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