Planning to open an arcade game room? Here's your budget.

arcade game room profitability

How much does it cost to open an arcade game room? What are the main expenses? Can we still do it with a low budget? Which expenses are unnecessary?

This guide will provide you with essential information to assess how much it really takes to embark on this journey.

And if you need more detailed information please check our business plan for an arcade game room and financial plan for an arcade game room.

How much does it cost to open an arcade game room?

What is the average budget?

On average, you can expect to spend between $20,000 to $500,000 to start an arcade game room.

Let's break down what impacts this budget the most.

The location of your arcade game room is a significant cost factor. Rent in high-traffic areas like malls or entertainment districts will be higher compared to more secluded areas.

The type and number of arcade machines are major expenses. A single new arcade machine can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on its complexity and popularity. Vintage or rare machines might cost even more.

Regarding the budget per square meter, on average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to $6,000 per sqm for an arcade space, factoring in the need for spacing between machines and play areas.

Renovations and interior design to create an engaging and themed environment can also be costly, ranging from a few thousand dollars to over $50,000, depending on the complexity and theme of the arcade.

Licensing fees for games, music, and other entertainment aspects can vary widely but expect to budget a few thousand dollars for these annually.

Additional costs include seating areas, snack bars, and potentially hiring staff, adding to the initial investment.

Marketing for your arcade, such as online advertising, signage, and promotional events, should also be budgeted for. A few thousand dollars would be a reasonable starting point for marketing expenses.

Can you open an arcade game room with minimal budget?

While challenging, it is possible to start an arcade game room on a smaller budget.

To minimize costs, you might consider a smaller space or a less expensive location. This could significantly reduce rent expenses.

Instead of buying new machines, you could opt for second-hand or less popular arcade machines, which can cost between $500 to $3,000 each.

A DIY approach to renovations and a simple layout can save costs, potentially bringing the renovation budget down to a few thousand dollars.

For licensing, focus on fewer, more popular games to keep costs down.

Using social media and word-of-mouth for marketing can also reduce expenses. Allocate a small budget for online advertising and basic signage.

In this minimal scenario, your initial investment might range from $15,000 to $50,000.

However, keep in mind that starting small may limit your arcade's attraction and growth potential. As your business grows, reinvesting profits into more machines, better facilities, and marketing can help scale your arcade game room.

Finally, if you want to determine your exact starting budget, along with a comprehensive list of expenses customized to your project, you can use the financial plan for an arcade game room.

business plan video arcade

What are the expenses to open an arcade game room?

Please note that you can access a detailed breakdown of all these expenses and also customize them for your own project in the financial plan for an arcade game room.

The expenses related to the location of your arcade game room

For an arcade game room, selecting a location with high visibility and foot traffic is crucial. Ideal locations include malls, entertainment districts, or areas near schools and colleges. It's beneficial to observe the area at different times to assess the customer flow.

The arcade should be easily accessible to both pedestrians and vehicle traffic. Look for locations with clear signage visibility and easy access from main roads or highways. Having parking space and proximity to public transport can significantly boost customer access.

Also, consider the convenience of transporting and installing arcade machines. Being near suppliers or having good logistics can reduce costs and ensure smooth operations.

If you decide to rent the space for your arcade game room

Estimated budget: between $4,000 and $15,000

Renting space for an arcade game room involves initial costs like security deposits and possibly the first month's rent. The security deposit, which can be one to two months' rent, is for covering potential damages or non-payment and is usually refundable.

If the monthly rent is $2,000, anticipate an initial payment of $4,000 for the security deposit and the first month's rent. Budget for another $6,000 for the subsequent three months' rent.

Understand the lease terms thoroughly, including duration and rent increase conditions. Consider hiring a lawyer for lease review, which could cost between $600 and $1,200.

Real estate broker fees, if used, are generally covered by the landlord or property owner.

If you decide to buy the space for your arcade game room

Estimated budget: between $150,000 and $800,000

The purchase price varies based on size, location, and market conditions. It could range from $100,000 (small space in a less busy area) to $750,000 (large space in a prime location).

Factor in closing costs, including legal fees, title searches, and loan origination fees, typically ranging from $7,000 to $30,000.

Renovation costs should be budgeted at 10-20% of the purchase price, approximately $15,000 to $150,000.

Professional services for property assessment could range from $0 to $5,000.

Property taxes vary but typically range from 5% to 15% of the property's value annually, equating to $7,500 to $120,000.

Property insurance may cost between $300 and $2,500 monthly, depending on the property size and location.

Is it better to rent or to buy a physical space for your arcade game room?

Renting provides lower upfront costs, flexibility, and fewer maintenance responsibilities but may lead to unpredictable rent increases. Buying offers ownership, stable payments, and potential tax benefits but requires significant initial investment and maintenance costs.

The choice depends on your financial status, long-term objectives, and the local real estate market.

Here is a summary table for comparison.

Aspect Renting an Arcade Space Buying an Arcade Space
Initial Costs Lower upfront investment Higher upfront cost
Location Flexibility Easier to test locations Fixed location
Maintenance Responsibility Landlord typically handles Owner responsible
Quick Startup Faster to get started Lengthy acquisition process
Customization Limited control Full control and customization
Stability and Branding Less stable, less branding Greater stability, stronger branding
Tax Benefits Possible deductions Tax advantages
Asset for Financing Limited collateral Valuable collateral
Market Risk Easier to adapt to changes Subject to market fluctuations
Long-Term Investment No long-term equity Potential for equity buildup
Monthly Expenses Ongoing rent payments Mortgage payments and expenses

Equipments, furniture and interior design

Estimated Budget: approximately $150,000 to $200,000

Opening an arcade game room requires a significant investment in gaming machines, which are the heart of your business. The cost and selection of these machines will greatly influence the customer experience.

Arcade cabinets, which house games like classic shooters or fighting games, can cost between $2,000 to $5,000 each. Newer, more high-tech machines, such as racing simulators or virtual reality setups, may range from $10,000 to $25,000.

For a diverse gaming experience, consider a mix of classic and modern machines. While the initial cost might be higher, the variety will attract a wider range of customers.

Pinball machines, a staple in arcades, vary in price from $4,000 to $8,000. The cost depends on the game's rarity and technology. Classic titles are often more sought after and can justify their cost in terms of customer appeal.

Redemption games, offering tickets for prizes, are key for family-friendly arcades. These games, like skee-ball or whack-a-mole, typically range from $3,000 to $6,000. The appeal of prize tickets can significantly increase customer spending.

Regarding customer comfort, quality seating and tables are essential. Budget around $5,000 to $10,000 for durable and comfortable furniture. The ambiance plays a crucial role in customer retention.

For snacks and beverages, vending machines or a small concession stand can be set up. A basic setup might cost between $3,000 to $8,000, depending on the range of offerings.

Now, let's discuss some additional but optional equipment.

An advanced sound system, costing around $2,000 to $5,000, can enhance the gaming atmosphere but is not crucial initially. Similarly, dynamic lighting systems, which can cost between $1,000 to $4,000, add to the ambiance but can be upgraded over time.

In terms of prioritizing your budget, invest more in a diverse range of gaming machines, as they are the core of your arcade. High-quality, popular games will draw more customers and increase revenue.

Opt for comfortable and durable furniture to ensure a pleasant customer experience, but you can find good options at mid-range prices.

For additional amenities like sound systems and lighting, consider starting with basic setups and upgrading as your business grows.

Remember, opening an arcade game room is about balancing your budget with the appeal and variety of your games. It's often better to start with essential, high-quality gaming machines and then expand your amenities as your business becomes more profitable.

Category Estimated Cost Range
Gaming Machines $2,000 to $25,000 each
Classic Arcade Cabinets $2,000 to $5,000
High-Tech Machines $10,000 to $25,000
Pinball Machines $4,000 to $8,000
Redemption Games $3,000 to $6,000
Furniture $5,000 to $10,000
Snacks and Beverages Setup $3,000 to $8,000
Optional Equipment Varies
Sound System $2,000 to $5,000
Lighting Systems $1,000 to $4,000
business plan arcade game room

Marketing, Branding and Communication

Estimated Budget: $8,000 to $15,000 for the first months of operation

In the dynamic realm of arcade game rooms, branding, marketing, and communication are crucial elements for success.

Branding for an arcade game room isn't just about flashy signs or neon lights. It's about creating an immersive experience that begins the moment a customer steps in. Your branding could evoke nostalgic feelings of classic arcades or a futuristic cyber arena. It should be reflected in everything from the game selection to the design of the tokens.

Do you want your arcade to be a family-friendly spot or a haven for hardcore gamers? This choice should influence your interior design, the types of games you offer, and even the merchandise you sell, like branded t-shirts or keychains.

Marketing is how you let the world know about the exciting, adrenaline-pumping experience at your arcade. You need to stand out in an entertainment-filled city. Marketing could involve creating engaging content on platforms like TikTok or YouTube, showcasing the thrill of your games, or offering sneak peeks of new arrivals.

For an arcade, effective marketing might also include partnerships with local influencers for game nights, or hosting tournaments that garner social media attention. Local SEO is vital too. You want to be the first option when someone searches for "fun arcade games near me".

However, broad national campaigns might not be cost-effective. Focus on building a local community of game enthusiasts.

Communication in an arcade game room is about building a rapport with your visitors. Whether it's the energetic greeting they receive or the announcements for high-score challenges, every interaction should enhance their experience. Good communication fosters a community of regulars who don't just come to play but to connect with fellow gamers.

Let's analyze your marketing budget. For an arcade game room, this might range from 3% to 12% of your revenue. Starting on the lower end as a new business is prudent.

Your budget should be carefully allocated. Invest in dynamic digital marketing, an engaging website, and local advertising like sponsoring community events or creating eye-catching flyers and posters.

Adjust your budget based on the response. A grand opening might require a bigger splash, followed by a more consistent monthly investment. Track where your customers are engaging most – if it’s through social media challenges, direct more funds there.

business plan video arcade

Staffing and Management

Estimated Budget: $15,000 - $30,000 for the first month

When opening an arcade game room, your staffing and management expenses will be influenced by the size of your venue, the variety of games and attractions you offer, and your operating hours.

Starting off, running an arcade game room alone can be doable but demanding. This business requires technical maintenance of gaming machines, customer service, and administrative tasks. These responsibilities can be overwhelming for a single individual, making it more practical to employ a small team for efficient operations and a healthy work-life balance.

Essential roles in an arcade game room include a technician for game maintenance and repair, a customer service representative for the front desk, and a security personnel for safety. These positions are vital from the outset to ensure the smooth running of the games and customer satisfaction. If you have a larger space or offer additional services like a snack bar, you might also need staff for these areas.

As your arcade game room expands, you might consider hiring additional staff like a dedicated manager, marketing staff, or event coordinators. These roles can be filled a few months after your business is established, once you have a better understanding of your specific needs.

Regarding payroll, it's essential to compensate your staff from the beginning of their employment. Postponing payment can lead to dissatisfaction and high turnover rates.

Besides salaries, budget for extra expenses such as taxes, insurance, and benefits, which can increase your overall staffing costs by 20-30%.

Training is also crucial in this industry. Initially, you might need to budget for training your staff in machine operation, customer service, and safety protocols. This investment is vital for the smooth functioning of your arcade game room. The budget for training can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the games and services you offer.

Job Position Average Salary Range (USD)
Arcade Manager $40,000 - $60,000
Game Technician $25,000 - $40,000
Customer Service Representative $20,000 - $30,000
Game Attendant $15,000 - $25,000
Cashier $20,000 - $25,000
Cleaning Staff $15,000 - $20,000
Marketing Coordinator $30,000 - $45,000

Please note that you can access a detailed breakdown of all these expenses and also customize them for your own project in the financial plan for an arcade game room.

Professional Services

Starting with a lawyer, for an arcade game room, the focus isn't just on general business setup.

A lawyer can guide you through the legalities specific to entertainment venues, such as licensing requirements for arcade games and age restrictions for certain types of games. They can also help in negotiating leases, especially important for ensuring the space is suitable for high foot traffic and the installation of bulky gaming equipment. The cost may vary, but typically, an arcade game room might spend approximately $3,000 to $6,000 initially on legal services.

Consultants for an arcade game room are invaluable, especially for those new to the entertainment industry.

They can provide insights on optimal game room layouts, selecting a mix of games that appeal to your target audience, and strategies for maximizing revenue per square foot. They might also assist in creating a marketing plan to attract and retain customers. The cost for such specialized consultancy might range from $100 to $300 per hour.

Bank services for an arcade game room are crucial not only for managing a business account or obtaining loans but also for setting up advanced payment systems. As an arcade, you'll need efficient ways to handle transactions, possibly including token or card systems for game credits. The costs for these services will depend on your bank and the selected systems.

Insurance for an arcade game room should cover specific risks such as damage to expensive gaming equipment, and public liability in case of accidents on the premises. Depending on the size and location of your arcade, insurance costs might range from $1,500 to $6,000 annually.

Additionally, for an arcade game room, there are regulatory compliances related to gaming and entertainment venues. This includes regular safety inspections and possibly updating or maintaining gaming equipment to adhere to standards. These are recurring costs but are essential for operating legally and maintaining a good reputation.

Service Description Cost Estimate
Legal Services Guidance on entertainment venue legalities, licensing, age restrictions, lease negotiations. $3,000 - $6,000
Consultancy Insights on game room layout, game selection, revenue maximization, marketing strategies. $100 - $300 per hour
Bank Services Business account management, loan facilitation, payment system setups for transactions. Varies
Insurance Coverage for gaming equipment damage, public liability. $1,500 - $6,000 annually
Regulatory Compliance Safety inspections, maintaining/updating gaming equipment for standards adherence. Recurring costs

Ongoing Emergency Funds

Estimated Budget: $20,000 to $100,000

When you're opening an arcade game room, having an emergency fund is absolutely crucial.

Think of it as your safety net in the world of arcade entertainment; you hope you won't need it, but it's essential for your peace of mind and financial security.

The amount you should set aside can vary, but a common rule of thumb is to have enough to cover at least 6 to 12 months of your operating expenses. This typically translates into a range of $20,000 to $100,000, depending on the size and scale of your arcade game room.

Keep in mind that these figures can fluctuate based on factors such as your location, rent, utilities, employee salaries, and the cost of arcade machines and maintenance.

One of the primary reasons for having this fund is the unpredictability of cash flow in the arcade game room industry. You might encounter unexpected expenses, such as machine repairs, fluctuations in electricity costs, or unforeseen marketing opportunities. These situations can significantly impact your cash flow if you're not prepared.

To mitigate these potential challenges, it's not only prudent to maintain an emergency fund but also to manage your arcade game room efficiently.

Investing too heavily in underperforming games can lead to financial strain, while neglecting necessary maintenance can result in customer dissatisfaction. Regularly assess and update your game offerings based on player preferences and industry trends to avoid these pitfalls.

Additionally, building strong relationships with suppliers and service technicians can be a lifesaver. Sometimes, they might offer discounted rates or flexible payment terms, which can help you manage cash flow challenges during challenging times.

Another key aspect is maintaining a vigilant eye on your finances. Regularly reviewing your financial statements and analyzing daily revenue helps you spot trends and address issues before they become major problems.

Consider diversifying your revenue streams within the arcade game room. In addition to arcade games, explore opportunities such as snack bars, merchandise sales, or event hosting to create additional income sources.

Lastly, never underestimate the importance of excellent customer service and community engagement. Satisfied players are more likely to return, and hosting special events or competitions can provide a stable source of recurring income in the arcade game room business.

Franchise Fees

Estimated Budget: $30,000 to $70,000

Only if you decide to join an arcade game room franchise!

On average, you might expect to pay anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000 in franchise fees for an arcade game room. However, these figures can vary based on the franchise's reputation, market demand, and the support they provide.

The franchise fee is typically a one-time payment. This fee is paid to the franchisor to gain entry into the franchise, giving you the license to operate under their brand and access their business model, training, and support systems. However, this is not your sole financial commitment. There are ongoing expenses such as royalty fees, marketing fees, and other operational costs.

Not all arcade game room franchises structure their fees identically. Some may have higher initial fees but lower ongoing expenses, while others might follow the opposite approach.

Unfortunately, negotiating the franchise fee is unusual, as these fees are generally standardized for all franchisees within a specific brand.

However, there could be some room for negotiation in other aspects of the franchise agreement, such as the contract duration or specific terms and conditions. Consulting with a franchise attorney or advisor can be advantageous in comprehending and bargaining for these terms.

Regarding the time it takes to recoup your investment and start generating a profit, this can fluctuate significantly. It hinges on factors like your arcade game room's location, how well the brand is received in your area, your business expertise, and overall market conditions. Typically, it might take anywhere from a few years to several years to witness a profitable return on your investment in an arcade game room franchise.

Please note that you can access a detailed breakdown of all these expenses and also customize them for your own project in the financial plan for an arcade game room.

business plan arcade game room

What costs can be eliminated when starting an arcade game room?

Managing your expenses wisely is key to ensuring the long-term success of your arcade game room.

Some costs can be unnecessary, while others may be overspent on, and certain expenses can be delayed until your arcade is more established.

First and foremost, let's talk about unnecessary costs.

A common mistake arcade owners make is over-investing in the latest and most expensive gaming machines right from the start. While having a few high-end games can attract customers, it's not necessary to fill your arcade with them. Begin with a mix of classic and newer games, ensuring a variety that appeals to a wide audience without draining your budget.

Another area to save on costs is in the design and layout of your arcade. A flashy, high-tech interior might seem appealing, but a functional and comfortable space is more crucial. You can opt for a simple design that is both inviting and cost-effective, focusing more on the gaming experience than on luxurious aesthetics.

Now, let's discuss expenses that arcade owners often overspend on.

One pitfall is excessive advertising. While promoting your arcade is important, there are more affordable ways than expensive ad campaigns. Utilize social media, collaborate with local businesses, and consider hosting gaming tournaments or events to attract players.

Be cautious about overstocking on gaming accessories or merchandise. Start with a modest inventory and expand based on customer demand and trends.

Regarding delaying expenses, consider holding off on extensive renovations or expansions. It's better to grow your space organically as your customer base and revenue increase. Expanding too quickly can lead to unnecessary financial strain.

Finally, delay investing in high-tech virtual reality setups or other cutting-edge gaming technology until your arcade has a steady income. Start with traditional arcade games and gradually introduce more advanced technologies as you establish your business and understand your customer preferences.

Examples of startup budgets for arcade game rooms

To help you visualize better, let's break down the budget for three different types of arcade game rooms: a small arcade in a rural area with second-hand machines, a regular urban arcade with a variety of games and amenities, and a high-end, spacious arcade with the latest gaming technology.

Small Arcade in a Rural Area with Second-Hand Machines

Total Budget Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000

Category Budget Allocation Example of Expenses
Equipment (Second-Hand) $10,000 - $15,000 Second-hand arcade machines, basic maintenance tools
Lease and Renovation $3,000 - $6,000 Lease deposit, minor renovations, basic furniture
Permits and Licenses $1,000 - $2,000 Business license, gaming licenses
Marketing and Advertising $1,000 - $2,000 Local ads, flyers, business cards
Miscellaneous/Contingency $5,000 - $15,000 Unforeseen expenses, utility setup, small repairs

Regular Urban Arcade with Variety of Games

Total Budget Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000

Category Budget Allocation Example of Expenses
Equipment (New and Diverse) $25,000 - $40,000 Variety of arcade machines, gaming consoles, furniture
Lease and Renovation $10,000 - $20,000 Prime location lease, interior design
Permits and Licenses $2,000 - $4,000 Expanded gaming licenses, business permits
Marketing and Branding $3,000 - $6,000 Website, social media, branding materials
Miscellaneous/Contingency $10,000 - $30,000 Insurance, utilities, emergency funds

High-end, Spacious Arcade with Latest Gaming Technology

Total Budget Estimate: $100,000 - $200,000

Category Budget Allocation Example of Expenses
Equipment (Top-Tier) $50,000 - $80,000 Latest gaming machines, VR setups, high-end audio systems
Lease and High-End Renovation $20,000 - $40,000 Premium location, advanced interior design, custom furniture
Permits, Licenses, and Insurance $5,000 - $10,000 Comprehensive insurance, various gaming and business permits
Marketing and Premium Branding $10,000 - $20,000 Professional marketing campaign, online advertising, premium signage
Miscellaneous/Contingency $15,000 - $50,000 Contingency fund for unforeseen expenses, luxury amenities, staff uniforms
business plan arcade game room

How to secure enough funding to open an arcade game room?

Primarily, arcade game rooms often rely on a combination of personal savings, loans from banks, and contributions from family and friends for funding.

The reason for this is that arcade game rooms, being small to medium-sized businesses, might not attract the interest of larger investors like venture capitalists, who typically seek out high-growth, scalable enterprises. Additionally, while grants are available for various sectors, they are less common for entertainment and gaming businesses, which may not align with the primary focus areas of most grant programs, such as technology, health, or education.

In terms of securing a loan from a bank or attracting an investor, having a solid business plan is essential. This plan should include detailed financial projections, market analysis, a unique selling proposition (what sets your arcade apart), and an operational plan. Demonstrating an understanding of your target market and having a clear path to profitability is crucial. Banks and investors want to see that you have a thorough understanding of the business's finances, including projected revenues, expenses, and cash flow.

They also look for evidence of your commitment and ability to run the business successfully, which can be shown through your experience in the gaming or entertainment industry or through partnerships with experienced business managers.

Regarding the percentage of the total startup budget you should bring to the table, it typically ranges from 20-30%. Having some 'skin in the game' can be favorable as it demonstrates your commitment to the project. However, if you can convincingly demonstrate the viability of your business and your ability to repay a loan, you may be able to secure funding without a significant personal financial contribution.

The timing of securing your funds is also critical. Ideally, obtaining financing about 6 months before opening allows you time to set up your arcade, purchase machines, hire staff, and handle other pre-launch expenses. This timeframe also provides a buffer for addressing any unexpected challenges.

Finally, it is generally unrealistic to expect to be cash flow positive from the first month of operations. Most new businesses take time to become profitable. Therefore, it's wise to allocate a portion of your initial funding to cover operating expenses for the first few months. A common approach is to reserve about 20-25% of your total startup budget as working capital to manage cash flow until the business becomes self-sustaining.

You might also want to read our dedicated article related to the profitability of an arcade game room.

How to use the financial plan for your arcade game room?

Many arcade game room owners approach investors with presentations that lack clarity and organization, often attempting to impress with unstructured arguments and unpolished financial documents.

If you are passionate about starting an arcade game room, securing the necessary funding is a pivotal step. This requires building trust and confidence with your prospective investors or lenders.

To achieve this, it is essential to present them with a professional business and financial plan.

We have crafted an easy-to-use financial plan, specifically designed for arcade game room business models. It includes financial projections spanning three years.

This plan covers all vital financial tables and ratios, such as the income statement, cash flow statement, break-even analysis, and a provisional balance sheet. It comes with pre-filled data, including a comprehensive list of expenses relevant to running an arcade game room. You can easily adjust the numbers to align perfectly with your specific project.

Our financial plan is not only compatible with loan applications but is also beginner-friendly, offering full guidance without the need for prior financial knowledge. There is no need for complex calculations or cell modifications – the process is fully automated. You simply fill in the necessary boxes and select options. We've streamlined the process to ensure it's user-friendly for all, even for entrepreneurs who might not be familiar with Excel.

In case you face any challenges or have questions, our team is readily available to assist you, at no extra charge.

business plan video arcade

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement. While we strive for accuracy, we do not guarantee the completeness or reliability of the information, including text, images, links, or other elements in this material. Following the advice or strategies presented here does not assure specific outcomes. For guidance tailored to your individual circumstances, it is recommended to consult with a professional, such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor.

Back to blog