4 Reasons Why Arcades Use Tokens Not Coins

4 Reasons Why Arcades Use Tokens Not Coins

You open your wallet and glance down to find that one stray arcade token. Everyone has one just lingering somewhere, maybe at home or in your car. If you were searching for some actual change they can be a bummer really to discover. You never know what to do with them either, do you toss them, or will you one day return to the arcade and use it?

Many folks wonder why arcades even bother using tokens. It seems like it would be quite more efficient to utilize actual money which would make it more efficient for themselves and their customers. However, there are several reasons why arcades benefit from using tokens instead, and I’ve compiled a list for you on the 4 reasons why arcades use tokens, not coins.

1.  They Actually Last Much Longer.

It seems hard to fathom, how can a cheaply made metal token last longer than a quality copper and nickel quarter but hear me out. Quarters take a lot of abuse. The oldest quarters in circulation are from 1932 if you find one from 1932 you should head to eBay where you can sell it for $20 or sometimes more!

Older quarters mean different features, rougher edges, dents, chips, and anything that may build up on the surface over time. These aspects are the top culprits for clogging up arcade machines and jamming coin slots. Since arcade tokens only ever serve one purpose, and that’s to play your favorite Street Fighter or Pac-Man arcade machine, they take less abuse.

When a coin mechanism on an arcade game becomes jammed, this puts the game out of service which loses the arcade money based on how long it takes to get it up and running again. If they don’t have anyone on hand that understands coin mechanism repairs, this might warrant a costly service call and leave the game sitting unusable for much longer.

You can actually still find a lot of arcade games that use quarter coin mechanisms that are prone to jamming, because not every arcade uses tokens. It’s also possible that you invested in a retro arcade piece for home that has one. We looked up a great way to adjust these coin mechanisms to reduce jams.

Adjusting Your Arcade Coin Mechanism

  1. Remove the coin mechanism. The two most common cabinet setups require you to either:
    1. If the cabinet has a coin mechanism that is opposite to the door, you’ll find two latches at the top of the mechanism that you can push down. After pushing down you can pull the top of the machine towards you and then glide it our of the holder.
    2. If the cabinet has a coin mechanism that is set so the front of it faces right, you’ll find a bar on the side with a clip near the bottom.  Remove the clip while also getting rid of the metal bar. After doing this that you can slide the mechanism to the right, then using the other side to pull, glide it out of the holder.
  2. Once the coin mechanism is removed, we can move onto adjusting it. Every mechanism will have a screw near the top that handles the tension. Tighten the screw all the way to the left.
  1. Now you’ll want to intentionally place a quarter into the mechanism to get stuck.

  2. Once the coin is stuck, turn the screw to the right until the quarter is no longer stuck and goes completely through.

  3. Once it falls through only give about a ½ turn more to the right to assure smoother throughput of future coins.

  4. Place your mechanism back in the cabinet and test.

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Check out this helpful video from Arcade Repair Tips on adjusting coin mechanisms.

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2.  You’re Now A Guaranteed Customer.

Think about it. If you had to use quarters in arcade machines, you can decide when you want to stop playing without any loss and be on your day. Or maybe you don’t like the quality of the arcade, so you want to walk a few blocks down to the competition. It’s hassle-free for you.

If you’ve already converted your money to tokens though, these tokens can only be used at that arcade. You’re now less likely to leave the arcade, and you are also forced to spend the complete amount of money you invested in tokens otherwise you’ll view it as a loss. Even if you don’t spend all of your tokens, the arcade still has your money.

When you think about it, this is a brilliant way to increase your customer’s investment at your establishment. I don’t know about you, but when I walk into an arcade I hate having to walk back and forth to the token converting machine, I’ll put in a lump sum without a second thought for my convenience and surely I know I’m not the only one who does this.

Arcades Sometimes Use Cards Instead of Tokens

It’s becoming increasingly popular for arcades to use pre-loaded cards instead of tokens. This is great because it not only guarantees you as a customer, but it tricks you into investing even more for your convenience. Prior to cards, you had to lug around a limited amount of tokens, cards give you the ability to walk around without worrying or being limited to how much you can carry.

Some other advantages to arcade cards:

  • The process of playing is sped up tremendously. The faster the kids can play, the apter the parents are to load money. No one wants to be at an arcade for less than 30 minutes.
  • You no longer have to count tickets and arcade owners don’t have to invest in tickets or staff to re-load tickets. The ticket information gets loaded onto the card and a staff member scans it at the gift shop later for payment.
  • There is a reduction in complaints from jammed token mechanisms and inaccurate or broken ticket dispensing.

  • Arcades actually lose a lot of tokens from people leaving the arcade and never returning with them. This requires them to invest money in supplying new tokens, cards eliminate that investment.
  • An arcades game card is a great marketing piece, it stays in the user’s wallet or purse giving them a constant reminder of the arcade’s existence.
  • It can be easily decorated however the arcade sees fit and it’s much easier to look at than a token which will likely be tossed anyways.
  • People are unable to cheat the system by using fraudulent tokens from other arcades.

3.  They Reduce Employee and Customer Theft.

Theft is common in the arcade business and the culprits can either ber customers or unfortunately trusted employees. Having coin-operated arcade games increases the chance that employees might skim off the top of the arcade profits. Unless the arcade has tracking software in their games, there’s no way they would even know the theft occurred.

There’s a number of reasons why arcades seem to be involved more with petty theft cases than other establishments. With the loud atmosphere of arcade games playing, children running around, distracting lights, any thief would attempt to take advantage of the environment because they are less likely to get caught. If you’re an employee you’re also very unsuspecting.

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Recent Arcade Thefts

In October 2018 a man stole $17k worth of quarters from arcades in Washington.

The man was caught when employees noticed the unusual person sporting a wig and attempting to get into machines with a crowbar. He then attempted to attack the employees with a screwdriver when confronted. While it might seem silly to rob arcades, the sentence is not so silly. This man was booked for second-degree burglary.

It’s really not just the machines that are vulnerable within arcades. The thieves target these establishments more because they have such a high cash flow coming in and out. Consider this incident in May of 2019 When a Florida man committed an armed robbery at a Tallahassee Arcade Center.

Johnny Lee Battles, Jr threatened the employees by firing a shot in the air and then took nearly $4,000 from them before fleeing. It was thanks to security footage released to the public that police were eventually able to track him down.

Additionally, arcades that utilize cards are also prone to theft. In September of 2010, one Florida arcade employee got crafty. Arcades sometimes allow employees to have pre-loaded cards of small amounts to be used in the reimbursement of customers if machines or card malfunctions.

Sara Decker used her employee arcade card to transfer funds to fake customer cards and then tried to reap the benefits. In total, she created 14 fake cards totaling up to $1,050. The punishment was a charge of larceny thefts greater than $300 and less than $5,000.

Employee theft costs U.S. businesses $50 billion per year, according to a Hiscox study. If you’re an arcade owner or you plan to be, here are a few tips to help prevent employee theft.

Ways You Can Avoid Employee Theft

Watch for strange or suddenly changed behaviors.

Experts say that many employees who steal have actually worked for the company for some time before they begin to do it. They have built a reputation with the company and feel comfortable with what they are doing because they know the companies procedures and day to day operations. This can also make it easier for you to spot sudden differences in behavior like:

  • Noticing large purchases or lifestyle changes that are not comparable to their income level.
  • They are suddenly more interested in working longer hours or alone.

  • They are caught using business time or materials for moonlighting.

  • They appear to have obsessive personal habits like gambling or borrowing money.

  • You notice strong objections from them when it comes to changing company policies and procedures.

  • They are showing signs of alcohol or drug abuse.

Make sure they are supervised appropriately.

It’s common for some businesses to provide lax supervision to employees they deem trustworthy, but the fact is, the more lax supervision is the more fraud and theft rates go up. Refrain from limiting supervision or judging employee loyalty altogether. Treat every employee the same and provide reasonable supervision.

It’s important to note what reasonable supervision is. If you are constantly checking over employee’s shoulders or micro-managing you might end up with disgruntled employees who end up quitting.

Keep more than one pair of eyes on receipts.

It’s easier to let one person manage balancing registers and receipts, however, having more than one person keep track of register functions and sales reduces the risk of potential theft. It’s okay to have an associate balance the sales and checkbook, but their work should be regularly double-checked by a higher authority worker.

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Have unscheduled audits internally and externally.

Having unscheduled and unannounced audits provides less time for a potential thief to cover their tracks.  You can choose to do internal audits but many experts say having an outside source is even better because they remain unbiased to the situation and the employees.

Install security measures on the computer systems.

Having software on computer systems in the workplace is a great way to log employee’s and their actions within the system. Many employers will assign employees with special log in numbers they have to put in, in order to use the system.

These specially assigned identification systems make it easy for the system to track an individual employee’s actions. You’ll be able to see where employees are providing discounts, credits, or comps and how often.

4.  Psychologically Tokens Make People Spend More.

There’s a psychological difference that occurs when someone places a token into an arcade game as opposed to a quarter. This difference is similar to the effects of credit card spending.

If you can’t see physical money dwindling, it’s hard to envision the importance of it or lack of it. Sure, people should know arcade tokens and credit cards hold no real value, but they cost money to obtain. Our brains subconsciously though just aren’t wired to think this way on the fly.

When you’re forced to use actual money, you realize that it has to come from somewhere, whether it’s what’s in your bank account or your pocket. This makes you more likely to budget and take into consideration what you have.

People with credit cards tend to spend money now and deal with finding out what they actually had later. The same concept applies for arcade tokens. Once you buy them, you tend to just shell them into any arcade game you come across without thinking about things like:

1. Was the token cost for this game reasonable?

2. How many tokens do I actually have left?

3. How many tickets can I get from playing this game to make the spending worth it?

The fact that tokens contribute to a lack of proper spending decisions, leaves many customers leaving the arcade disappointed. How many times have you walked out thinking, “I can’t believe I spent $20 in tokens to get this stuffed animal worth a dollar from the gift shop?”

Or how many times have you continued shelling out money because you were disappointed with your ticket amount? This is the psychological trick that gets arcade customers to shell out more money and keeps arcades in business.

Check out this informative article on the psychology behind why people spend too much money.

Is There A Downside To Token or Card Operated Games?

In conclusion to this article, it’s important to note the downside to token-operated games from the perspective of arcade owners. If you currently own an arcade running off of coins, the switch to token or cards can be extremely costly. You’ll have to consider installing token-operated mechanisms on all of your arcade games.

This conversion can prove difficult and usually requires the help of a service or maintenance worker. While the conversion is taking place, your arcade games won’t be in use and making money. If you’re switching to an electronic card system, there is a lot of programming that has to happen to make all of your arcade games run smoothly and it can take time.

Additionally, there are added machines that need to be installed and maintained in your establishment on top of the games themselves, such as a coin to token converters or card generators. These machines can be pricey and it’s not just the machines. You’ll find yourself investing in tokens and card materials to circulate through your business.

The card machines require ink, wifi connectivity, and an authorization system to process credit card transactions. These aspects all cost money, whereas coin-operated arcades, simply need the games to run and there is no added cost. Making the decision to switch from coin-operated to card or token, is one that will require a proper calculation between cost and potential profit.

Is The Arcade Industry Returning?

The arcade industry was once thought to be a dying breed following the release of home-based gaming technology, however, there are quite a few people who think the industry is on its way towards revival.

Read more about how the arcade industry may be making a comeback here.