Everyday somebody comes into Pinball Land confused that, “they don’t take quarters,” failing to understand the incredible value of the Free Play Arcade format. The article will explain why playing your favorite arcade games at an establishment with a Free Play model is not only a better bang for your buck, it’s more fun, too.
Free Play Arcades for the Average Player
For the average player, the Free Play Arcade model is an outstanding value. People typically spend an hour or two when they go out to an arcade, regardless of how many quarters or tokens they actually feed into games. When a modern pinball machine costs $1 per play, and a game averages about 2 minutes, you’ll go through $20 in just a little over a half hour just playing pinball. A single race in a sit-down racing game will set you back $1 per driver, and a quick bout of Mortal Kombat will set you back 50 cents per player. It really adds up!
The free play system loosens players up. Games become less stressful and more fun because you’re not constantly dumping more money into it, being punished for learning how a game works. At free play arcades, all you need to do is press the start button and give it another shot. I can’t speak for other free-play establishments, but Pinball Land is only $7 for one hour or just $15 for an all-day pass – an amazing value!
Free Play Arcades for Beginning Players
A Free Play Arcade is ideal for beginning players or younger players who may not know the rules and controls of retro arcade game. Teens and young adults new to classic games may be more used to directional control pads, analog sticks, mice and keyboards so the entire arcade format may be foreign (and intimidating) to them. If you pay for each play, you’re going to lose some money just figuring out how to adapt to the retro controls. Take a game like Defender for example, using 5 buttons plus a 2-way directional stick to control your spaceship. It becomes second nature, but only after a good ten or so games!
If you’re paying with quarters, each hard lesson is going to set you back up some change. However, if you’re playing at an arcade with a Free Play model, you can try over and over again until you get the hang of the game. And then, once you do, you can keep playing until you set that high score!
Free Play Arcades for Younger Kids
Many younger kids are used to the simple gameplay of redemption games found at places like Chuck E Cheese and Dave and Busters, however retro arcade games and pinball machines require more focus and commitment to successfully play and enjoy. Pinball is a real challenge for younger kids. To be frank, kids these days don’t know anything about pinball and they, by in large, have very little intuition for it. They don’t know where the buttons are, they don’t know how to start a game. They don’t know the difference between a flipper and a pop bumper. They don’t know the difference between a plunger and a button. They don’t even know that there are rules or what “the point” is. Tragically, most kids don’t care to learn, and will never even get the opportunity if their parents aren’t going to give them $1 per game.
It’s a big problem.
Free Play arcades give kids the opportunity to learn the game of pinball alongside their parents without going through a ton of money. They allow parents to teach their kids how to play and enable them to play with their children on the same game. Then, the next time a family finds a pinball machine out in the wild, they can play it together and have a nice time. Sure, at $1 per play (per player) but now the kids will know what they’re doing, and the whole family can enjoy the game together.
For Beating “Quarter Munchers”
Some retro arcade games are infamous for their ability to empty the wallets of players. These “quarter munchers” are great games, but design choices make them impossible to finish without pumping quarter after quarter into the machine.
Few players have had the opportunity to see these games to the end because of the financial investment it takes to power through to the final boss. We’re talking $10 to $20 in quarters just to beat one game! And, depending on your skill, even that might not be enough to finish some games.
For Hardcore Pinball Players
It’s cheap practice! Even good games are rarely longer than 5 minutes, especially on more challenging machines. Sometimes you can get a game going for a long time – maybe as long as half hour – and in that instance the “$7-for-an-hour” deal doesn’t work out too well. However an “all day” admission can’t be beat for serious players. It allows the player to spend as much time as they want with a game to not necessarily “play” the game, but “practice” it.
You can spend all three balls attempting to dial in one particular shot, or try risky passing maneuvers that could cost you a dollar normally. And with an all-day admission, you can come and go, take breaks, get a bite to eat, and just have a good time out at the arcade.
Free Play Arcades for the Whole Family
The best thing about the free play arcade format is how it enables families to play games together for one fixed price. It allows families of any income level to make positive memories that will last forever. There’s no pulling on sleeves, begging for more quarters. There’s no fits when tokens are spent too quickly.
It’s just good, clean fun for everyone, and that’s what arcades are supposed to be all about.