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The Unique Satisfaction of Paying Per Credit on Arcade Games

In recent years, the arcade industry has undergone quite a bit of evolution, bringing forth a bevy of exciting new models. One of the most prominent modern models is the freeplay arcade, in which patrons pay an entry fee upfront for all-you-can-play gaming within a certain timeframe.

As absolutely awesome as this model is—as evidenced by my delightful trip to the Galloping Ghost Arcade—a big part of me will always find comfort in the old way of doing things. Yes, it’s true: I enjoy paying per credit on arcade games.

While not a perfect model, there’s something uniquely satisfying about my playtime being directly linked to change I brought with me to the arcade that day. Because my position on this matter might seem a bit strange, I’ll try to explain myself as best as possible by imbuing my personal convictions.

First and foremost, it’s impossible to deny the sheer nostalgia power of pumping quarters, inserting tokens, or swiping a card to access an arcade game. This is how much of the industry has operated for decades, and I never fail to get a kick out of the practice. (Maybe I’m too wistful, heh-heh.)

Beyond tradition, I genuinely appreciate the high stakes nature of playing on a credit-by-credit basis. The need to make every quarter count drives me to participate at optimum efficiency, even if it does make my heart race at times. My end goal is to reduce the number of credits it takes me to beat a game on subsequent playthroughs. (I usually do.)

Speaking of reducing credits, I also dig the feeling of “player agency” I derive from getting better at pay-per-play arcade games. If I try hard enough, I’m able stretch a five-dollar bill just about as far as I want. The concept of earning more gameplay—provided I improve my skills with deliberation and effort—has always been wildly alluring to me.

I only one tiny problem with paying per credit, and it’s easily resolved with open communication. I often worry that game prices are climbing a bit too high—I still struggle with paying upwards of $1.00 per credit—but I understand that not every arcade has crossed this threshold.

As with any market, it’s important to seek out the businesses that speak true to your values and support them regularly if possible. For instance, since the machines at Walmart game rooms are set to $0.25 to $0.50 per play, I make sure to visit them the most. Their prices are downright divine.

At the end of the day, paying per credit is not something everyone enjoys. This is why freeplay arcades are just as crucial as any other model within the modern arcade landscape. I wrote this article for no other reason than wanting to express my own viewpoint on a “legacy” payment practice.

I truly hope that my perspective makes some sort of sense—or, even better, you gained a newfound appreciation for my preferred means of play. Regardless, I respect everyone’s opinions on this subject and hope we keep this discourse rolling in a constructive manner.

Hit me up on Twitter or join my Discord server for more Wilcox Arcade fun.


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