What are Arcade Games?

A coin-op or arcade machine is a coin-operated amusement machine usually installed in several business establishments, including amusement arcades, bars, and restaurants. Most of the original arcade games are merchandisers, redemption games, electro-mechanical games, pinball machines, or video games. The golden age of arcade games is widely debated but is typically defined as a period that started in the late 1970's and ended during the mid-1980's.

The arcade industry also experienced a short resurgence during the early 1990's, but declined throughout the Western hemisphere during the late 1990's due to home video game consoles, including Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation, increasing gameplay capabilities, graphics, and animations as well as decreased the overall cost.

Types of Arcade Games

Most amusement machines will feature a rapid increase in difficulty, intuitive and simple controls, and short levels. This is due to the arcade flash game environment where players essentially rent the game to stay alive for as long as possible with an in-game avatar or until players run out of coins or tokens. The games developed for both PC and home consoles can be classified as arcade games, but only if they share the same qualities or when they are direct ports when it comes to arcade titles.

Most of the independent developers in the video gaming industry are currently producing arcade-style games that are specifically designed for online use. These games are typically designed with DHTML, Java, or Flash and operate directly through web browsers, also referred to as arcade flash games. Also, these free arcade flash games for PC preserve the original arcade games of the past, enabling game enthusiasts to enjoy old video games that are based on the code from the golden age of arcade video gaming.

Racing games in the arcade genre offer a simplified physics engine that doesn't require loads of time to learn the game when compared to racing simulators. The cars featured in original arcade racing games turn sharply without much understeer or braking, and the AI opponents are usually programmed to always stay close to the player, known as the rubber band effect.

You will also find simplified controls and physics in arcade flash games as oppose to flight simulators. Arcade flight games are meant to provide an easy learning curve while preserving the action component. In fact, an increase in flight video games on consoles, such as Ace Combat and Crimson Skies, have indicated a fall in flight simulators in recent years. Other types of arcade-style genres include fantasy, casino, adventure, sports, cards, slots, board games, and shooting.

Best Selling Original Arcade Games of All Time

It's true that the original arcade games are far less significant today than they used to be during the 1980's and 1990's. Before most gamers enjoyed video games at home, arcades were an enormous business that generated an extraordinary amount of revenue. During the 1980's, the arcade industry managed to generate more revenue than Hollywood films and pop music combined.

There were countless original arcade games released during the golden age of original arcade games, but which of these arcade games were the most successful? While the revenue numbers are extremely difficult to track down from that time, we decided to break down the list by the total number of cabinets sold to give you a clear indication of the top 5 best-selling original arcade games that made a mark in gaming history.

5. Asteroids

Although Asteroids was never able to beat the extremely popular Space Invaders arcade game, it still managed to produce 100,000 cabinets across the globe which generated $800 million by 1991. If we adjust the amount for inflation, that would be around $1.43 billion today. The Asteroids arcade game also managed to inspire several other space shooters, including Gravitar and Defender.

4. Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong, upon its release, looked rather unique next to maze-chase and space shooter games that were the most popular genres during the golden age of original arcade games. Most didn't realize it at the time, but Donkey Kong made gaming history as both the game's hero and its eponymous ape would become the two most popular game characters in arcade gaming history. Donkey Kong went on to sell 132,000 cabinets and made $280 million in revenue by 1982. Adjusting that amount for inflation, Donkey Kong made $710.2 million worldwide.

3. Street Fighter II

It's hard to imagine another arcade classic that has aged as well as Street Fighter II. Capcom was certainly onto something special when the original was released in 1987, but it was the sequel that solidified the series as the highpoint of 2D fighting arcade flash games. The arcade game was so successful that it helped create an arcade resurgence during the early 1990's after the arcade industry experienced a sharp decline in revenue during the mid-1980's. It's estimated that Street Fighter II sold a total of 200,000 cabinets and made over $2 billion in revenue by 1995 which excludes the $1.5 billion made on home console ports.

2. Space Invaders

Launched in 1979, Space Invaders is one of the earliest arcade games that is regularly credited for starting the golden age of original arcade games. There were several other arcade games that were built on the Space Invaders formula since 1979, but none of them could match the overwhelming success it had in the arcade industry. Space Invaders managed to move over 360,000 cabinets and made a whopping $2.7 billion in revenue by 1982.

1. Pac-Man

This should come as no surprise. Just like the yellow-eating machine eats pellets in the game, he also devoured the most coins in the history of original arcade games to the tune of over $3.5 billion by 1989, or approximately $6.5 billion when you adjust for inflation. Pac-Man was released in 1980 and become the first true mascot of arcade gaming. With 400,000 cabinets sold worldwide, Pac-Man was considered one of the largest cultural phenomena's during the 1980's and is certainly one of the most important arcade flash games ever created.