The Cost of Home Arcade Machines: Is It Worth It?

The Cost of Home Arcade Machines: Is It Worth It?

Are you ready to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the iconic blips, bleeps, and pixelated graphics of classic arcade games like Street Fighter, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man? So many people use arcade machines to add a touch of retro gaming to a man cave, home bar, or entertainment space.

Having an arcade machine at home is a luxury certainly so you may be wondering what the cost is and is it cheaper to build your own? Before you dive headfirst into this adventure, there's a crucial decision let's break it down for you.

The DIY Route

For those who relish the joy of crafting and creating with their own two hands, building a DIY arcade machine can be a tempting proposition. Here's what you need to consider:

Materials: Building your arcade machine from scratch means sourcing materials like wood, buttons, joystick, screens, and more. While this gives you control over the materials used, it also means you'll need to spend time finding the perfect solutions. Most arcades are made from a form of MDF, although we've seen some plywood options too. There are some pretty unique re-purposed machines too, like whiskey barrels and oil drums. 

Tools and Equipment: Prepare to get acquainted with a toolbox. You'll need a range of basic tools like saws, drills, screwdrivers, a soldering iron, crimps etc. Maybe you can borrow the bits you don't already have from a friend of neighbour?

Space: Creating your own arcade machine takes up space, so good quality and sizable bench is essential!

Skills: Are you a woodworking wizard and an electronics enthusiast? If not, you'll need to acquire or develop these skills. Building an arcade machine from scratch is no small feat and may involve a steep learning curve. But there is plenty of helpful content on Youtube and various websites to achieve what you want. There are also some super helpful home builder groups on Facebook that are well worth joining.

Here's a list of the prices as at Sept 2023 for the basics you would need:

  • Wood (18mm melamine faced) - £65
  • T-Molding - £40
  • Monitor - £100
  • Game board (Pandora Box DX) - £90
  • Wiring harness - £12
  • Buttons (with microswitches) - £35
  • Joysticks (basic ball top) - £25
  • Power supply - £40
  • Printed graphics - £70
  • Misc parts (power cables, screws, paint etc) - £50
  • Optional parts (acrylic or glass covers for the monitor and control panel) - £125

Total - £652

Not everyone wants the acrylic or glass covers, but they do prolong the life of your machine. especially if it gets lots of use. The above list is by no means exhaustive but certainly gives you a good idea of the basic costs to build your own machine.

Building your own machine is an experience, if you've not dabbled in this sort of thing before you'll certainly learn some new skills along the way!

The Professionally Built Alternative

Now we couldn't go through the DIY option without considering one of our beautifully built machines! Ordering one a professionally built arcade machine from a reputable company like Arcade Depot. Here's why it might be worth the investment:

High-Quality Materials: Arcade Depot uses top-notch materials to craft their machines, ensuring durability and longevity. All parts are precision cut with CNC machines using designer perfected over 10 years. You won't have to worry about your machine falling apart after a few intense gaming sessions.

Precision and Expertise: Crafting arcade machines is an art and a science. Arcade Depot's machines are designed for optimal performance, providing a gaming experience that matches or exceeds the classic arcades of yesteryear.

Convenience: With a professionally built machine, you're ready to play from moment the shining pallet arrives at your home. No need to spend hours or days pulling your hair out frustratingly troubleshooting niggly little problems. It's a plug-and-play experience.

Warranty and Support: Arcade Depot stands by their products, offering a full 12 month warranty and excellent customer support. If anything goes wrong, you have the peace of mind that they've got your back, even after the warranty has expired.

Weighing the Costs

When comparing the costs of building your own arcade machine versus purchasing one from Arcade Depot, it's essential to consider the full picture. DIY projects can quickly add up in terms of materials, tools, and time. Mistakes can also result in unexpected expenses. In contrast, while a professionally built machine has an upfront cost, it provides the assurance of a high-quality product that's ready to use. The DIY cost of £652, would be comparable to our standard cocktail table arcade machine, and the cost is not much more at all.


In the end, the decision between a DIY arcade machine and a professionally built one comes down to your preferences, skills, and priorities. If you're a DIY enthusiast with the time and expertise, crafting your arcade machine could be a rewarding project. However, if you want the nostalgia without the hassle, the convenience and quality of a machine from Arcade Depot may be the way to go.

So, is it worth it? That depends on your love for the game, your dedication to craftsmanship, and your desire for a hassle-free gaming experience. Whichever path you choose, remember that the world of retro gaming is at your fingertips. If you're leaning towards the professionally built option, check out our most popular arcade machines and take that leap into arcade gaming nirvana. Happy gaming!