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The History of Arcade Game Machines

While heated debates still occur over the exact date the Golden Age of Arcade Games and coin operated (coin-op) machines is, it all started somewhere in the late 1970's (1978 or 1979) and ended in the mid 1980's (1982 or 1983). Outside of a brief recovery in the early 1990's the arcade machine has been on pretty much a steady decline since the age of competing home based video game console systems and computers became more affordable to the average home user.

The first arcade machines were often found as amusement park midway games dating way back but gaining popularity in the 1920's. Games such as the ball toss game, shooting galleries and the earliest known coin operated machines such as a fortune teller machine were the beginning of this trend and often provided the inspiration for what we think of today as arcade games. The first coin-op pinball machines were released in the early 1930's and were originally made from wood and used mechanical instead of electrical scoring mechanisms.

In the 1960's companies like SEGA and Taito released electro-mechanical games such as Periscope and Crown Soccer Special, as well as light gun shooter games such as Duck Hunt and racing games like Grand Prix that were worldwide successes in the USA, Canada, Japan and Europe.

In 1971 "Galaxy Game" was released by a group of Stanford University students and is what is considered to be the first coin operated video game. Also in 1971 Nolan Bushnell (one of the founders of Atari) created the first mass manufactured game which was called Computer Space. Following the release of Galaxy Game, Computer Space, and then the highly successful game Pong in 1972 (made by Atari) and into the late 1970's the electro-mechanical arcade games were slowly replaced by newer model electronic video games. In 1978 Taito released Space Invaders which became the first blockbuster arcade game and started what is know as the golden age of arcade video games.

During the late 1970's into the 1980's video arcades seemed to be on every corner. Chains such as Chuck E. Cheese turned huge profits by combining a restaurant atmosphere within their arcades/ Video game arcades could be found everywhere inside most malls and even grocery stores and movie theaters. In its prime in 1981 the arcade video game industry was worth $8 billion (which equates to about $20.8 billion in 2015) but took a steady decline and by 1991 arcade game revenue had fallen to $2.1 billion due to the affordability of newly released home gaming machines. There was a slight recovery in 1991 with Capcom's Street Fighter 2 which revived the arcade industry slightly but by 1999 revenue had dropped again in the United States down to only $1.33 billion and reached and all time low of $866 million in 2004.

Currently arcades are not found in many locations with the exception of a random Dave and Buster or Chuck E. Cheese's around town. The love for arcade game machines has not been lost though and these days many people are wishing for the games of their past. Many arcade fans now own their own arcade games and have them in their homes. From classic games to the hottest new games if you love arcades then you can still find a way to play even in the age of home console systems and iPhone games! Help keep the arcade machine history alive and purchase your very own game machine today!


Top 100 Arcade Machines

During the golden age of arcade games (1978 to 1983) the success of the video game was normally based on either how many of the arcade machines for the parrticular game were sold or based on how much revenue was generated from the actual coin machines (that must of been a lot of quarters to count!). The list below of top selling arcade machines (taken from Wikipedia) only includes arcade games that sold more than 1,000 machines or generated a over $1 million USD in coin fed revenue. The majority of the top selling arcade games come from the golden age of arcade machines but some top performers are pre and post the glorious golden age. Below are the 100 top selling arcade machine games listed from top to bottom.

1. Space Invaders - 1978
2. Pac-Man - 1980
3. Street Fighter II - 1991
4. Donkey Kong - 1981
5. Ms. Pac-Man - 1981
6. Asteroids - 1979
7. Defender - 1981
8. Galaxian - 1979
9. Donkey Kong Jr. - 1982
10. Mr. Do! - 1982
11. Popeye Comics - 1982
12. Out Run - 1986
13. Pump It Up - 1999
14. NBA Jam - 1993
15. Gun Fight - 1975
16. Sega Network Mahjong MJ3 - 2005
17. Hang-On - 1985
18. Dinosaur King - 2005
19. Wheels (Speed Race) - 1974
20. Sega Network Mahjong MJ2 - 2003
21. Donkey Kong 3 - 1983
22. Sangokushi Taisen 2 - 2006
23. Initial D Arcade Stage 4 - 2007
24. Mario Bros. - 1983
25. Dance Dance Revolution - 1998
26. Zoo Keeper - 1982
27. Initial D Arcade Stage - 2001
28. World Club Champion Football - 2002
29. Mortal Kombat - 1992
30. Jungle Hunt - 1982
31. Scramble - 1981
32. Mushiking: King of the Beetles - 2003
33. Mahjong Fight Club 3 - 2004
34. Super Cobra - 1981
35. Oshare Majo: Love and Berry - 2004
36. Centipede - 1981
37. Shining Force Cross - 2009
38. Pengo - 1982
39. Sangokushi Taisen - 2005
40. World Club Champion Football: Intercontinental Clubs - 2008
41. Dragon's Lair - 1983
42. Mortal Kombat II - 1993
43. Pole Position - 1982
44. StarHorse3 Season I: A New Legend Begins - 2011
45. Border Break - 2009
46. Dig Dug - 1982
47. Tempest - 1981
48. TV Basketball (Basketball) - 1974
49. The House of the Dead 4 - 2005
50. Radar Scope - 1980
51. Tron - 1982
52. Sengoku Taisen - 2010
53. Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road - 2007
54. StarHorse2 - 2005
55. Q*bert - 1982
56. Robotron: 2084 - 1982
57. Samba de Amigo - 1999
58. Asteroids Deluxe - 1981
59. Missile Command - 1980
60. Berzerk - 1980
61. Sangokushi Taisen 3 - 2007
62. Pong - 1972
63. Lord of Vermilion - 2008
64. Sega Network Mahjong MJ4 - 2008
65. Kangaroo - 1982
66. Battlezone - 1980
67. Stargate - 1983
68. Space Duel - 1982
69. Big Buck Hunter Pro - 2006
70. Snake Pit - 1983
71. Bagman - 1983
72. Big Buck Safari - 2008
73. Hard Drivin' - 1989
74. Gauntlet - 1985
75. Sega Network Mahjong MJ5 - 2011
76. Millipede - 1982
77. Race Drivin' - 1990
78. Time Traveler - 1991
79. Space Ace - 1984
80. Xevious - 1982
81. Big Buck Hunter Pro: Open Season - 2009
82. Silver Strike Live - 2010
83. H2Overdrive - 2009
84. Atari Football - 1978
85. Final Lap - 1987
86. Paperboy - 1984
87. Star Wars - 1983
88. Beatmania - 1997
89. Sprint 2 - 1976
90. Championship Sprint - 1986
91. Pole Position II - 1983
92. Breakout - 1976
93. Sea Wolf - 1976
94. Lunar Lander - 1979
95. Super Sprint - 1986
96. Marble Madness - 1984
97. Sea Wolf II - 1978
98. Rolling Thunder - 1986
99. Tetris - 1989
100. Arabian - 1983