Size is a major consideration. Unlike most digital arcade platforms, basketball arcade machines require a lot of space. They need to imitate actual shooting distances found on a real court. This can vary quite a bit since some machines will aim at a free-throw distance while others will want to challenge players with a three-point shot. More advanced games will feature a moving hoop that can utilize all these distances.
Height is also a factor. While many games feature a standard height, there are still quite a few machines that play with this by having a low hoop or an especially high hoop to give players something new. Like distance, there are still more machines that feature vertically-moving hoops.
Take a moment to assess your arcade space. Measure the area for length, width and height. Whenever you find a good machine, compare measurements with the specs listed in the profile. A basic average is 70-90” long, 80-90” tall, and 25-50” wide. This varies quite a bit however, and the spectrum for machine size is all over the place. This is not even taking into account most multi-hoop machines or machines with major light displays or unique netting requirements. Measure your space and work within those boundaries.
Shooting distance is also worth considering and is closely related to size. As mentioned before many machines tend to be around 70-90” long which is more or less the standard shooting distance. However, many machines go up to 120” or more while still others will go below 70” with games aimed at small children.
There are several manufacturers who don’t work within the standard shooting distances and this makes it doubly important that you understand what your own space is like. Standard shooting distance is a one size fits all, but you may want to keep your games shorter for little kids or longer for more game-savvy adults. Thus, you need to know your measurements and your target audience.
What can really set other games above the rest is how they continuously challenge players and keep them coming back for more. Game levels increase the difficulty and excitement with every round. The most common way is by demanding that players beat high scores within an ever-decreasing time limit. Having at least this feature is important if you want an exciting machine worth the investment.
If you’re interested in really blowing away players, buying a machine with a moving hoop is a great way to do it. As the game gets harder, the hoop begins to move in different directions. It is this little touch of crazy that can quickly turn the basketball arcade machine into one of the most popular games in your space. Features likes this can obviously be more expensive, but the cost may very well be worth it.
Every basketball arcade machine that keeps score features PvP. Players can simply compare their scores after each game. However, this can be taken into a whole new realm once multiple hoops are brought in. Some machines will come with two or more hoops built in. This allows at least two players to play separately or battle each other.
Simpler games will show two different LED panels to be compared. More advanced ones will have a system that actively engages in the competition. Announcers will narrate the action and compare performances, players will be able to track each other’s scores in real-time, and exciting lights and sounds react to what is going on.
Some basketball arcade machines feature a network where players can battle online. That said, this is a very rare and expensive feature. Players are able to compare their scores to machines around the region or country and may even be able to battle in real-time with someone in an entirely different arcade. This feature is fantastic for drawing in players who do not have anyone to play with. It is definitely something to consider if your budget allows.
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Appearance is the most diverse variable in buying a basketball arcade machine. First, consider what kind of look you want. If you run an arcade that caters to a specific fandom, there are NBA trademarked machines that can either be generic or themed after your favorite team.
There are also machines that feature trademarked characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Pikachu, and Pacman. Some machines keep their designs basic with attractive colors and a clean basketball court look while others cover the display in decals and bright netting and fencing. Some have enormous LCD screens with interactive characters and scenes while others have a basic LED bar that just keeps track of times and scores. The case of the machine may be netting and fencing, or it may be a tunnel of LED lights. The options are always growing.
Think about what you want your machine to be. If it is supposed to be a centerpiece, consider one that has a lot of exciting lights and colors that will draw players right to it. If you run a sports bar, having an NBA machine with a team logo is a perfect choice. The variety is mindboggling, and you will definitely find something that suits your needs. Even more, multiple manufacturers and wholesalers have options for creating custom designs on a basic set up for your own logos and images.
Music keeps the game exciting. Each machine will have its own soundtrack to pump up players while they compete. Silent games can feel a bit awkward so if you opt for a cheaper set-up that does not have built-in music, make sure it has an audio jack and speaker. This way you can at least put your own sounds on.
Many trademarked machines will have highly recognizable tunes which can be very exciting.
An NBA machine can feature classic broadcasting music and basketball chants to simulate being at an actual game. A Pokémon machine might have music from the anime or the game. All of this can add a lot of flavor. Whenever possible, investigate what music comes with your machine or simply ask the developer to provide a sample.
While most basketball arcade machines use an LED panel for scores, times, and game types, there are some that go the extra mile. Advanced machines will feature LCD screens of various sizes, some even taking up the entire back panel.
LCD screens provide infinite display opportunities. Everything from interactive scenes, narrators, and characters to realistic NBA backgrounds and exciting special effects. They cost a pretty penny but if you want a true arcade centerpiece there is nothing better for drawing in players and keeping the energy exciting.
Each machine should have a frame made from power coated steel that is easy to assemble and take apart without damage or difficulty. The backboard should, at the very least, be made up of medium or high-density fiberboard to handle constant impact. The rim should be made from steel with high quality sensors built-in that register scores with no less then 98% accuracy.
The frame and ramp should consist of hardy materials like steel, fiberboard, and lightweight yet durable wood. Netting should be made from quality nylon or other synthetic material. Any LCD or LED screens not only need to work well over time, but they need to be protected from impact. Shields and casings should come as standard.
Keep in mind that better materials mean higher prices. However, no good company will be selling a machine that is easily damaged with frequent use. Even the cheapest machines will be hardy and strong. Also, most good companies will be able to replace damaged parts, provide customer support, and even machine repair. Take this into account when choosing where to buy.
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Price is everything. You may want a single-hoop machine with an LCD screen, flashing lights and an amazing exterior display, but you might not be able to afford the $10,000 price tag. If you want something basic, then there are scores of solid machines with decent features for less than $2,500.
The range of prices with basketball arcade machines is truly enormous. There are massive, 4-5 hoop set ups that cost well over $20,000 dollars and there are portable, simple single-hoops for $500. Price is the biggest factor you will have to contend with when deciding on what you want. Higher prices mean more features, levels, exciting displays and competitive options. Be realistic about your budget and make compromises based on what you can spend. Especially if this is your first machine, it will be wise to keep expenditures low and buy a single-hoop with levels and PvP capabilities. Even better, buy a machine that can be linked up to a second and buy more machines based on increasing need.
It is important to pay attention to how a machine is packed and moved. The best and most versatile machines can be easily packed, shipped, and then reassembled in the desired location. It can be a nightmare if a large basketball arcade machine cannot be taken apart or moved without a team of workers and U-Haul truck. Most companies should be able to provide relevant information on this.
With regard to compressibility and transport, consider a manufacturer like NeoFun which provides a detailed section on exactly how they send over their games. It comes complete with photos, diagrams and descriptions. Furthermore, companies like NeoFun, Sega and BMI should be easy to contact when information or advice is needed in terms of disassembling and reassembling their games. This kind of quality should be expected at any price.
The best companies will have a robust customer service support system. Regardless of your choice, you have likely invested thousands of dollars and you deserve to have your needs taken care of. When picking your seller and your game, make sure there is an active customer support line either by phone or email. Some companies will even feature 24-hour chat services.
There should also be an easy to access part-replacement service that makes it simple to find what you are looking for. There should be troubleshooting guides and repair services where they either guide engineers in the repairs or send someone out to do it for you. This should come as standard for doing business with a reputable company.
Brand is important because it often incorporates all the previously mentioned variables. Having a name-brand like Sega is a mark of quality with regard to both the game itself and the company that is backing it. However, like everything else, higher quality brands will require higher prices.
Furthermore, the brand of the manufacturer is different from how the game is trademarked. The NBA’s brand on the exterior is a trademark that the manufacturer is licensed to use. This also means a game may require a higher place because the machine now represents two separate parties, the maker’s brand and the style’s brand. This is important to consider with your choices and the prices you are willing to work with.
Considering these factors should help you find the perfect machine for your arcade. Also, much like the machine itself, you want to find the company that works best for your situation. Try to stick with major wholesalers and manufacturers. They will most often have the widest selection, best prices, and most reliable customer service.
Also, if you don’t know what you are looking for, you will want to be able to trust that the company you are partnering with is not going to take advantage of you. Companies like Sega, NeoFun, BMI, and Primetime Amusements have built themselves up on good reputations and great service. Do not hesitate to check them out.
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