Are Ticket-Based “Arcade” Games Really Just Casinos for Kids?

By Todd Russell Aug7,2023

Had a good little discussion in the PGM Discord yesterday about ticket redemption games that overwhelm most “arcades” seen in 2023. It started with a picture shared by PGM member Gamer_Nix (pictured right) and morphed into a discussion of what arcades are like. I put it in double quotes in the first section because the large quanity of arcades in/around malls, in 2023, are heavily populated with ticket redemption games.

As someone who grew up with real arcades, you know, games that didn’t have a ton of tickets required to win way, way overpriced carnival prizes, these games are straight up really, really bad gambling, not anything like getting skilled at a game of Pac-Man, memorizing mazes or Donkey Kong or flipping a good pinball.

Another PGM member Ed209 shared the video below of the gambling nature of some of these ticket redemption games:

Do have to wonder if these ticket redemption machines are just terrible odds gambling targeting children? Without being too dramatic about it, sure seems that way. You have to sink in a ton of money, like you’re at a carnival in one of those games, to win something that it would cost less $$ to simply buy the prize outright. Some of these ticket games, including the coin pusher and claw look cool and seem fun, only until it seems like you’re winning, only to lose. There is a Steam game that I haven’t bought yet, but seen a few friends chat about it, called The Coin Game (https://store.steampowered.com/app/598980/The_Coin_Game/). Anybody reading here have this Coin Game on Steam? Virtual prizes certainly not as exciting as real world prizes, but hey.

To close this on a more positive note, remember Aladdin’s Castle? That’s when arcades were true arcades.

Namco bought Aladdin’s arcade in 1981, so you were always bound to find Pac-Man in these mystical, wonderful gaming lands.

Quarters in!

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