Hooray! Mark Davidson's consolidated hammer prices for the pinball and arcade industry's most recent auction at Kalahari Resort in Pennsylvania are now available. Here's a link to his report on his awesome Basement Arcade website:
If you've never checked out his site before, it's a must visit.
Let's take a look at the prices paid for a few select games. Remember these are the hammer prices. On top of this, buyers had to pay a 10% Buyer's Premium to the auction house, a 3% fee if they used a credit card and Pennsylvania state sales tax of 6% because they were buying in person.
A fair price paid for a very nice example sold by the folks from Barcade
Oct-O-Score redemption game:
Skeeball Super 21
Jersey Jack Wizard of Oz Prototype #14
Atari Relief Pitcher
Sticker Machine (which turns out to have been loaded with 700 stickers that are actually worth more than you'd expect)
Various Merit MegaTouches
The nice ones like these went for $400 to $600. Older generation and standup ones went for MUCH less than that.
Skeeball Strike It Rich
Arachnid Dart Games
Anywhere from $700 for the Galaxy 2.5s to $2,000+ for the Bull Shooters and New In Box Fire
Taito Birdie King 3
Sega Altered Beast
Midway Arctic Thunder
$450 - $500
Gottlieb Bell Ringer
Sega Virtua Cop 2
Bally Joust (no not the famous Joust pin lol)
Gottlieb Street Fighter
Stern Stars (trashed)
Arkanoid Cabaret (likely formerly a Pac-Man?)
Herbie pinball machine
Williams Cyclone - $1,600
Williams No Good Gophers - $4,100
Stern Lord of the Rings (not in great shape) - $6,000
Gumball Pinball Machines
The better of the two went for $50
This represents just a small sample of the amazing pricing data that Mark has at his site. I encourage everyone to click on the link to his article and check out the full list for the prices of things from new pinball machines like Aerosmith to classics like Hurricane and Data East Simpsons to all sorts of arcade games. You can even compare the auction prices today to other auctions that he has data for over a decade ago. It's a wealth of information!
I've thought quite a bit about the prices that I saw that day and how they were significantly lower than the prices paid for games at the Banning Museum of Pinball collection auction. I have come to the conclusion that the current market for games likely lies somewhere between the two. The prices at the Museum auction ended up being higher than the real market for these main reasons:
Publicity: The auction received a massive amount of publicity. I saw articles on it in just about every major publication, from the New York Times to NBC News.
Online Bidding: The huge publicity in itself wouldn't have driven up prices as much for an in-person auction, BUT Captain's Warehouse put the Museum of Pinball bidding online. That was the real game changer. People who had lots of money to spend, not only in the United States but in Europe and Australia, where the prices of all games are higher, could bid on games from the comfort of their couch. Big collectors used the auction to pick up games that they normally wouldn't be able to find and the European arcade community had access to things that they rarely see at the push of a button.
Sentimental Value: Even I would be willing to pay a little more for a game that I enjoyed playing at a venue over the years, whether it's PAPA or the Museum. There's something cool about owning a piece of history, even more so if you have fond memories of hanging out with friends and family there.
The opposite of these trends worked against the recent Kalahari auction. While I knew about it because I follow the hobby obsessively, many local people who are into pinball and arcade games did not. Information about it seemed to spread more by word of mouth than anything. Part of the reason for that is this was the first auction that I am aware of being held in the Northeastern U.S. in several years. If this company has a second auction, more people would likely attend as we hopefully see COVID numbers decline and word of the decent prices at the first event spreads. Again though, the lack of online bidding will always keep prices lower for an auction than they would be if anyone in the world could bid on a game.
The one trend that I heard retailers who attended the auction repeat a number of times was "Christmas is coming and the supply of gifts available for people to purchase is low due to supply chain problems. People will pay up for games for the holiday." You know what? That makes a lot of sense.
So there you have it, Part 2 of my report on the recent arcade industry auction. I hope that you enjoyed reading as much as I did attending it and hanging out with friends in the hobby. Make sure to bookmark the Knapp Arcade site and check back because later this month is the Fall Arcade Road Trip (TM) with lots of visits to amazing arcades.