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The Most Profitable Arcade Games for Your Business

If you are old enough, you can remember a time when there was at least one video game arcade in every shopping mall. I remember ours was by the food court and I’d stand just outside, gulping down my fountain soda so I could toss it in the trash next to the “ABSOLUTLY NO FOOD OR BEVERAGE” sign and make my way into the dimly-lit world of sticky buttons and jammed coin slots.

If I was there on a weekend I could forget about my chances of scoring a classic arcade game like Mortal Kombat or even some hoops on the classic NBA JAM video game because every machine would be occupied, with people standing around watching and waiting their turn. Yeah, the arcade was awesome…

30 years later it’s hard to even find an arcade let alone a busy one. Sure, we are all aware of the mega-chain arcade spots and those can be fun too, but it just isn’t the same as the old local arcade hang-out. Today a lot of people ask “Can you even make money off of an arcade anymore?” and the simple answer is “NO. No way. No how.”….just kidding, of course you can still make money running an arcade, you just have to know how you want to do it.

After almost 20 years in the industry we know a thing or two about fun, games and how to help you turn a buck while providing top quality entertainment to your customers. So let’s take a look at some of the most profitable arcade games for your business and see if the fun and challenge of the gaming industry is for you!

Prize Cranes

A proven money-maker time and time again, prize and candy crane machines are a great start on the road to your profit-turning arcade. The culmination of skill, luck and practice make these games a sure winner every time. You can stock it full of eye-catching toys and prizes that follow the latest trends and watch as customers try their hands at winning.

Toy Soldier Plush Crane 30” Claw Machine (20375)

One of the most popular crane game machines, the Toy Soldier Plush Crane, features a bright yellow cabinet that is sure to turn heads and pique interest. The all-steel crane cabinet is built to withstand the rigors of an arcade and all the fun that comes along with it. The running lights add yet another layer of visibility to the machine while the pad lock bar provides extra security and peace of mind. With the prize detection feature you can set the game to a “Play till you win” mode or make it a one and done, the choice is yours! Available in 30”, 40” and 46” sizes, there’s a unit made just for your location! A great looking game that might be just what your arcade needs!

Telephone Toy Plush Crane 30" Claw Machine (50435)

Classic? Cool? Fun and Profitable? Yes! Yes! AND YES! Looking like a blast from years past (“Daddy, what’s a telephone booth?”) the Telephone Toy Plush Crane red attention magnet is sure to draw plays and make memories. The iconic design will remind guests of other Telephone carnival crane claw games they’ve played and encourages them to try their luck on your unit to see what awesome prizes they can win. Vibrant bright red cabinet is hard-to-miss and the unique telephone booth design gives the machine and your venue a splash of character and fun! Running lights draw in plays while the simple single joystick and single drop button controls are intuitive and familiar, so guests can get playing right away. The all-steel cabinet is built to withstand the abuse that these machines will take over time, so you can focus on profits, not problems. Electric sounds and music add another layer of audible attraction as well as adding to the overall playing experience. The standard pad lock bar provides extra security and the prize detection allows you to set the game to play-till-you-win, so everyone walks away happy. Prize detection can be turned off, making the stakes that much higher with each exciting play! Programmable pricing and options means the power is in your hands to set prices while balancing the customer experience, so you can adjust each machine to specific location settings. Between the classic, attention-snatching design and multiple operator options, this is a terrific machine to add to your arcade and start adding customers today!

Sweet Shoppe Candy Crane Claw Machine (53163)

No matter how awesome Smart Phones get or how much better the graphics at home are, there’s one thing that kids will always love: CANDY! The Sweet Shoppe Candy Crane Claw Machine small crane game is the perfect addition if you’re looking for some sweet candy crane action! Coming in a little smaller than ‘standard’ prize cranes (30” W x 36” D x 76” H), the Sweet Shoppe has a small enough footprint to fit into smaller venues, so you don’t lose valuable floor space. The exciting electronic sounds will draw plays while the bright yellow candy crane cabinet will demand attention from your customers. 3-Sided glass with a mirror in the back displays all of the candy your customers can get their claws on while the mirror adds visual complexity. Running lights make sure that this machine can’t be missed and compliment the vibrant candy crane cabinet art that wraps the 3 sides of the machine. Simple one button, one joystick operation makes it so almost anyone can play. The digital count-down clock adds to the excitement and crane game intensity. Operators control the price, select the claw strength and simply need to refill the crane machine with treats so sweet your customers won’t be able to resist! Get this machine into your venue today and get some sweet returns on your investment in no time!

Redemption Games

Redemption and crane games are often the most profitable games in any arcade. They are great because not only are they fun but they are challenging and give your guests goals and prizes to play for! Plus, even if the customer has a bad game, tickets are still dispensed making it feel like a win.

Skee-Ball Classic Alley (58713)

You really can’t find a more classic example of an arcade redemption game than Skee-Ball. Almost everyone you meet will have fond childhood (possible adulthood) memories of ripping stacks of tickets from these iconic arcade machines and cashing them in for toys and prizes. Coin up and start rolling! Simple, fun and familiar these are a must for any arcade or game room. With a concept so simple anyone can play, customers just need to score as many points as possible in a specific time and win tickets depending on their score. The key to this machine: Simplicity. Skee-Ball machines are great because they are made to last and based on a time-tested design. One of the biggest issues with arcade games is the maintenance and upkeep of the machines. (Not to mention down time if you can’t fix them right away.) Skee-Ball units are simple enough that this really isn’t an issue. Simple mechanics, schematics and quality materials mean these machines are reliable and easy-to-fix when they do have problems, a great combination if you want to maximize your arcade profits. Another important factor is that Skee-Ball parts and accessories are easy-to-find because the games are still in production, so no more fruitless searches for random parts. Link 2 or more Skee Ball arcade games together to get some friendly competition started and even add a marquee that’ll not only look awesome but attract players as well. As an operator you control the ticket output and set the pricing, giving you the power to control profitability and customer experience. Not only popular with old-timers that want a bit of nostalgia but a hit with kids as well, Skee Ball is a timeless redemption game that spans generations with fun and simple game play. A great option if you’re looking for a simple game that’ll last long enough to turn a profit for your business.

Whac-A-Mole Ticket Redemption Arcade Game (55978)

Almost as recognizable as Skee Ball, Whac-A-Mole arcade redemption game is another mainstay of arcades everywhere and a great redemption arcade game that gets plays from young and old alike. Gameplay is simple: put in your money and whac the moles on their cute little heads as they pop out of their holes at increasing difficulty with each round. The bright yellow and orange cabinet is impossible to miss while the familiar music and game sounds will fill your guest’s ears with melodies from their youth. As an operator you control the ticket output and set the pricing, giving you the power to control profitability and customer experience. Small in size so its footprint is minimal, Whac-A-Mole is an arcade staple that can be a consistent earner in family entertainment centers and game rooms. This is a great unit for locations where you may have more small children than young adults or teens, so it’s good to know your demographics. So beat down those arcade profits naysayers by adding one of these whac-ky machines to your business and let the fun begin!

SpongeBob SquarePants Pineapple Redemption Arcade Game (58669)

The pusher-style arcade redemption game is the closest thing you can get to gambling before you’re 18 and if you’re looking for an addictive good time, the SpongeBob SquarePants Pineapple Redemption Arcade Game is exactly what you need! Based on the insanely popular kids show SpongeBob SquarePants, this game is sure to bring in the plays with its theme and highly-detailed, hard-to-miss cabinet artwork. Like many other pusher-style redemption games players must press the button to skillfully time the release of their token through the moving targets to drop more tokens off the edge, win free plays and score collectible cards. The crisp and bright LED lighting will light up your location and the faces of guests that are fans of the show. The instantly recognizable SpongeBob SquarePants characters adorn the outside of the cabinet and will attract young and old fans alike. The digital displays show how many plays are left along with how many tickets and tokens you’ve won. The game features a bonus token feature so guests have a chance to really win big! Two player stations are standard on each unit so you can maximize the profitability of your space and will require less waiting around to play. The unit comes with a starter set of beautifully designed cards that each have fun facts about the SpongeBob characters! The perfect pusher if you want to combine an extremely popular theme with the fun of redemption game skills, the SpongeBob SquarePants Redemption Arcade Game might turn out to be one of your best earners in the room!

Pinball Machines

Pinball is the game that everyone thought was fading out but has come back in a big way! Even in the extremely competitive and fickle gaming industry we see before us, pinball machines are still being made and played in arcades all over the world.

Having some pinball machines in your arcade is a great way to attract business and mix-up the game selection your location has to offer. Not only do they look great and attract attention but they also pull heavily on the nostalgic heart strings of many of your customers.

Pinball machines are fun but can be costly to maintain and this should be taken into account when you’re considering them for your arcade. Because they are hand made out of 1,000s of parts and feature a heavy, metal ball bouncing around the playfield, eventually components will need to be replaced or fixed. Having a good understanding of how to fix and maintain a pinball machine is a very valuable skill to have if you are going to put them in your arcade. Also having a good supply of pinball parts and accessories is key to keeping your pinball machines up and running. Anytime that these machines spend down is money you’re not making, so the quicker you can get fixed and playing again, the better.

Some businesses have approached pinball as a loss-leader, so they can focus on making money on food, drinks, prizes, merchandise and other games. Some locations will have weekly pinball leagues, or free pinball nights to attract business and offset the costs of maintaining the machines. Other arcades have installed card reader capabilities to their machines and set prices to take care of the maintenance costs which results in higher per game prices. (Card readers are less maintenance on average than a coin mechanism as well.)

The pinball machine is no doubt a great attraction for any arcade to have but it will depend on your knowledge of the game and willingness to get creative with your business ideas to make them profitable.

New and Retro Arcade Video Games

I don’t know about you but when I think of arcade video games I think of the retro-style, old school arcade cabinets like Pac-Man, Galaga, Joust, Tempest, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Space Invaders, Mortal Kombat and NBA JAM, just to name a few. These games are still out there and you can buy them used if you know where to look and what the market for them is, but it’s not easy.

Used arcade games have usually been around the block a time or two and will require at least a little bit of a tune-up before you can throw them on the gaming floor. If by some miracle the game is in good shape, you’re going to want to make sure it is ready for the abuse that will likely occur in your arcade.

Like pinball, a working knowledge of how these games function will be a business-saving skill if you can fix and repair these games yourself.

If you don’t feel like scouring the used video game market for functioning arcade games there is always the option of purchasing new arcade games. With new arcade games you’re going to get functioning arcade machines that are made for high-traffic use and you won’t have to fix them before they even hit the arcade floor.

New arcade games include Golden Tee, Silverstrike Bowling, Big Buck Hunter and even remakes of your favorite retro games like Pac-Man and PONG! These games will be more reliable than used retro video games and finding video game parts and accessories far easier on a game that is still in production.

Golden Tee is by far one of the most popular video games of the last 30 years and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping! Every year a new version of Golden Tee is released with exciting new content and features that keep your guests coming back again and again. With players able to create and edit their own characters and build their skills over-time, this is an extremely engrossing game that makes fans and keeps them for life.

No arcade is complete without at least one gun arcade video game and nothing is as recognizable as the Big Buck Hunter arcade game series. Turning bars and arcades into big game hunts since the early 2000s these games are tame enough to be family-friendly but real enough to keep even your most trigger-happy customer satisfied.

Having a good selection of new and old video games will help broaden your appeal and keep your customers having more fun for longer!

Darts and Dartboards

What can we say about darts?

Classic? For sure!

Fun? Absolutely!

Costly to have in your location? Not really!

Dartboards are a great way to attract business and yet another fun game that you can form a league and tournaments around. From the top-of-the-line electronic Spider 360 2000 Dartboard Series to the basic sisal dartboards like the Viper Dead-On or Viper Razorback Bristle Dartboards, there’s a dartboard for every price point and every venue.

First, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to go with soft tip darts or hard tip darts. This usually depends on the type of dart players you’re looking for and what kind of dartboards you want to provide to your customers.

Non-electronic Sisal boards are nice because you don’t have to worry about maintenance. No jammed coin mechanisms, no unresponsive board segments and no mystery electronic malfunctioning – just a board that you throw darts at. Many venues will charge to use house darts and then charge per half-hour to an hour for board usage.

Electronic dartboards are great because they do all the work for you and your customers! They keep score, they keep track of plays and money and they come loaded with a variety of fun dart games for your customers to play. Although maintenance on an electronic dartboard unit is usually minimal, it still exists so take it into consideration when making your decision. Knowing where you can get important dartboard parts and accessories is crucial to keeping your electronic dartboards up and making money.

Darts are great fun and a perfect way to attract even more business into your location.


Pool tables are a no-brainer when it comes to arcades and bars. The classic American barroom game is ever-present in almost every local watering hole and home bar. Familiar, fun and family-friendly, practically anyone can participate in a game of pool and the appeal is universal.

Having a few quality pool tables opens up your options for league play, tournaments, “Free Pool” night (increase drink and food sales) as well as giving your customers yet another fun option to spend their hard-earned money on.

Having pool table and billiard accessories is also a great idea for quick pool table fixes and repairs. Pool tables do require the occasional maintenance (recovering, leveling, bumper replacement) but they are notorious for their longevity. The pool table you buy today will still be in your arcade 20 years from now and that’s something you can’t say about every game on your floor.

Air Hockey

Skilled? Unskilled? Who knows? Who cares?! Just hit that air hockey puck and watch it scream around the humming playfield as you try to keep your fingers safe from the ever-so-painful puck-finger-pinch against the sidewalls. (I swear I thought I lost a finger this first time this happened to me as a child. As if I’d raise a bloody stump finger up from the table and the entire arcade would scream in horror. Turns out I just had to let the throbbing subside…)

Air Hockey tables are practically kid and teenager-magnets. Put one in your arcade and watch as they flock to coin up the machine and whack that loud puck as hard as their little arms can muster! (I’m almost 40 and still have a hard time passing up a game or two on an air hockey table. Maybe that says more about me than anything else.)

Air hockey tables are great because they provide a fast, fun and active game for your arcade that produces enough noise and laughter that the fun is contagious! You don’t need attract sounds when your customers are having enough fun they’re doing the work for you!

Relatively easy to maintain and constructed to take an absolute beating, air hockey tables will provide countless hours of fun and entertainment for you guests. A great option if you have the room and want to add another gaming option for your customers.


The foosball table is the tank of arcade gaming. The simple game lends itself to basic construction and minimal upkeep but provides great entertainment for all ages.

Kids will run up and immediately spin the foosball player rods while more experienced players may approach the table with a judging eye to see if they quality meets the standard of their game. What we’re saying is that foosball has many interest levels and that means no matter what the skill, people love playing foosball!

With their rugged design and quality craftsmanship a well-built foosball table should last many, many years and that makes it a great investment for your arcade. Besides having to replace a missing foosball every so often the tables provide excellent game play while not requiring a ton of attention, just a work-horse. This isn't to say you'll never need foosball parts or accessories, but it's far less than other games.

When an issue does occur, these games are so basic in their construction that the fix usually takes longer to perform that it does to figure out, so you’re not stuck with an out-of-order game while you troubleshoot the symptoms.

If you have multiple foosball tables this also gives you the option of league nights and tournaments.

A classic game that encourages team play and can even attract a crowd, foosball is a great option if you’re looking for a basic game that is a proven arcade-fan-favorite!

Ping Pong Tables

A game that may require a little more skill but may also attract specific customers to your location, having a ping pong table or two (or three) may set your arcade or bar apart from the arcade crowd!

Similar to pool, having multiple table tennis tables gives you the option of hosting leagues and tournaments, a great way to attract more business. Venues have used various methods of charging for ping pong play ranging from time limits for a flat fee, to charging for ping pong balls using a vending machine and basically having the tables on ‘free play’.

Many ping pong tables are collapsible and are very easy to set up in a short amount of time. This means versatility that you don’t have with other game tables. Having 2 or 3 ping pong tables doesn’t mean you need to have them taking up space all week long, this gives you the option to have special ping pong league nights and allowing the space to open for seating/other activities on other nights.

If you do plan on having table tennis in your location be aware that some customers are a little rough on these units without meaning to be, but over time it will slowly destroy your ping pong table, net and paddles. So a certain amount thought should be put into how you would like to implement and utilize your ping pong tables in your venue and what type of play they might receive. Regardless of the play the table recieves you will need to replace the ping pong paddles and ping pong nets eventually, so stock up on your ping pong and table tennis supplies and accessories.

Depending on your client base and location, a ping pong table might be just what your arcade or bar needs!

At Game Room Guys we’ve been selling, fixing and playing arcade games for almost 20 years, so we know a thing or two about the business. We carry all the great games listed above but we also sell all the game room parts and accessories, game room furniture, game room bar accessories and game room decor to fill all of your game room needs! That’s why when it comes to darts, pool/billiards, pinball, ping pong/table tennis, air hockey, bubble hockey, redemption games, crane games, foosball games, golf games, bars, chairs, stools, tables, and even theatre seating, we’re the guys!


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