In the many discussions I frequently have with current or prospective operators or people just looking to have a little game room arcade action at home, there is one question that pops up all the time – “Can I rent the games first?”
Usually my answer isn’t satisfactory to their liking, as I have had to tell them to search out a local small operator that they can work out something like a profit share or rental agreement if that is the route they want to take. They ask who and unfortunately I just don’t know in many cases. Game operators or businesses that do rent generally do very little advertising, for the most part they visit existing locations and ask if the owner wants to have some games put on location. They also don’t often provide service to homes, at least from those I am familiar with. The reasons behind the lack of a nationwide rental service have been plentiful – it’s a logistical nightmare and with the expenses involved, generally prohibitive(someone has to pay the full prices for the arcade titles, which in a rental case is the operator). I completely understand the desire for rentals – for a beginning operator it dramatically diminishes the risk involved for their part. For a home user, it helps one decide if a particular game will be worth the effort or not. I’ve heard of collectors that have spent a ton of money on a game and then find that they don’t play it all as its less exciting to have your unlimited continues and no social environment to boost it up. That won’t be the case for every game but with rentals, figuring out what fits best in your game room could be more reasonable.
With that being said, just because something like arcade rentals on a large regional basis is a challenge, doesn’t mean its impossible. I really do believe that there is a market for it out there, anecdotally based upon the sheer number of requests I’ve heard for it. Enter in All You Can Arcade. A new business where arcade rentals are the focus, giving people access to games for only $75 a month. The way it is setup is almost like Netflix, where memberships can be cancelled at any time and users can get multiple games brought to their location. It is being aimed more at home users than businesses, with free delivery and pick-up along with access to a wide selection of games. According to Seth Peterson who is leading the effort: “At the end of each month, members can keep their games, swap them for a different one in stock or they can cancel their membership at any time. Customers can choose from 1, 2, or 3 games at a time.” Access to some rarities (Astro Chase is one example – I’ve never seen a dedicated AC before) as well as kit games is available. At the moment the service is only available in the “San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Stockton, San Jose and as far North as Santa Rosa,” but with their website they are looking to expand their geographic network. As Seth explains: “In order to help scale the business, we’re partnering with other arcade coin operators and have set our website up, so that anyone who owns a game can become an operator by listing photos of their games for rent. They can also set how far of a territory they’re willing to cover on their route and our system will automatically find visitors who live within those zip codes and match their games with local homes and offices that want to rent them.” Whether the service will expand further to include coverage of commercial locations remains to be seen although just this site getting an easy to browse directory of operators is already a bonus. Check out the site here – www.allyoucanarcade.com.