How to Make an Arcade


I love arcades. I really do. And since I was a child, I wanted to own my own arcade. With the age of the internet, this dream can become a reality. This article will teach you the types of machines and ways to build. Overall, this will be a complete guide on how to make an arcade.



Before you even get one of your machines you need to plan what you want to do with the provided space. Remember to measure and to include furniture and anything else you want. There is nothing worse than ordering machines and then realizing that you can’t fit them all. This is especially bad because not all companies take returns.  There is nothing more wonderful than wasting thousands of dollars

Machine Types

Whether you want a single machine or a whole room, you’ll need games. I’ve listed the biggest categories. However, there are a lot more than I could ever include in this article. I will do separate articles for each machine.

Classic Arcade

This machine is probably the easiest one to build yourself. With the Retropie, one machine can have thousands or even millions of retro games.

The price will depend on how fancy you want your machine to be. For instance, the monitor can either be a cheap goodwill find ($20) or a state-of-the-art gaming monitor ($1,000). Each part can be similarly found. But, even at its cheapest.

You can also buy kits. These combine the building a machine yourself with store-bought quality.

A home-built arcade is likely to cost no less than $500.  Still, this price makes it one of the cheapest arcade machines available.

Air Hockey

This is a wonderful two-player game to include in any arcade. The main con of this machine is that it takes a lot of space. And there is no way around this. Plus, unless you have another arcade junky in the house, you might want to skip this one. However, this machine is definitely one of my favorites! And it is one of the cheapest machines you can get. You can snag this machine in many mainstream stores. You can often find this machine for $300 or even less, which is a fantastic price for an arcade machine.

Skee Ball

I have fond memories of playing on this at my local children’s arcade. Skee Ball is another machine with a plethora of build kit options and pre-built options. This will cost between $400 and a couple thousand depending on the size and durability of the machine you want.  I recommend getting a heavy duty machine since Skee Ball might take a lot of wear. While I will include a guide on how to build, unless you can do woodworking, I recommend at least buying a kit.

Shooting Game

Whether it be zombies or ducks or zombie ducks, shooting games are a blast. Again, this type of game has a wide variety of both build options and buy options. Duck hunt will be less expensive than the more modern games but all shooting games require a motion tracker which can be very costly.


Pinball is certainly one of the classics. And there are so many machines with so many different themes. It seems nearly every show has a Pinball machine from Star Wars to Star Trek to Deadpool. Finding one to your liking shouldn’t be difficult.  However, for a nice machine, don’t expect to spend less than a thousand dollars.

Driving Game

Whether it be a motorcycle or car game, driving games are a blast.  While it is possible to build yourself, games like this can be quite complex.  And the parts can be very expensive. Thus, unless you reeaally want to build, I recommend buying new or used.

Aiming Game

This is probably the widest range of gaming machine. From soccer to basketball, arcade machines can simulate it all. This group also has a wide range of prices. So its best to see the prices for each machine instead of choosing before looking.

Dance Game

By far one of the most popular games in this category is Dance Dance Revolution. This game can cost a couple thousand. However, there are cheaper versions available for this game but they are not as heavy duty and won’t have as good of sound.


This is another pretty mainstream game. It is also one of my favorites! This machine is the cheapest arcade game you can get. Some machines even cost as low as $150. Just make sure your ordering from a reputable company!


How to Get the Machines

There are primarily three different ways to acquire the machines. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. You do not have to only use one method. For my arcade, I use all three methods. It all depends on your personal preference.

Something Old

The first way to get arcade machines is to find them through eBay and Craigslist.  This might appear to be the cheapest options. But, old machines take a lot of maintenance. Thus, this is going to be the most costly unless you can repair and maintain the machines yourself.


Another drawback to the old machines is that a lot of the cooler arcade games haven’t been around long enough for the price to have gone down or to even be found much on the second-hand market.


Yet, there is something really special about owning an original machine.

Something New

The second way to gain the machines for your own arcade is to buy them straight out of the factory.


The main advantages of doing it this way are that your shiny new machine will probably be easier to maintain. And, depending on the machine, the upfront cost may be cheaper as well.

Something Requiring a lot of Cursing


So we finally come to the fun method: building a gaming machine yourself. There is no better way to ensure a quality product than by building it yourself.


Yet, this method also requires a lot of sweating and grunting. Plus, if for some reason you can’t finish, then you are out whatever you paid.


Games, Games, and More

Having gaming machines may take time and money, but it creates a fun environment for you and your family to relax.  I think the benefit far outways the effort. Even if you are going to build your arcade over a number of years, step-by-step, you can accomplish your dreams.