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Abandoned Arcades: The Long Goodbye

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

It’s hard to put a figure on the number of classic arcade machines that are still around. As you will have read on this blog, these cabinets are not in the safe hands of restorers and collectors today and are likely to have met a grim fate at some point. When machines come to the end of their useful life, in other words, when they stopped taking money, they were either smashed up and destroyed, or converted into something else by enterprising operators, often with cataclysmic results. With that said, there are still discoveries made that astound many of us, arcade collectors and builders. As we all know old warehouses and barns occasionally reveal hidden gems, and these arcade cabinets can be saved and be restored, rescued, and brought back to their former glory.

But there is another category of classic arcade machines that’s rarely seen: these arcade machines have been abandoned. Arguably these machines meet the worse fate – left to rot in long-forgotten buildings, barns, and old homes. If they are found at all, it's usually too late. The following pictures reveal the twisted beauty of many cabinets that are slowly disintegrating, exposed to the elements and untouched for many years, but they give clues to the story behind them. As we all ask the same questions, "Why were these cabinets there?" "Why were they abandoned?" "Who played them?" "Why did their owners make a hasty departure from the properties housing them?" "Were the doors closed and they simply forgot about?" We are all asking the same questions.

Here, an old deserted cafe in Arizona house three long-forgotten arcade cabinets. Photographed as they were found are a Sega Zaxxon, Atari Star Wars, and Make Trax, each slowly decaying into dust:

The Star Wars at first glance looks salvageable, but check the base:

We may never know why these arcade machines were left to die. As I sit here and wonder why it brings back so many memories of my childhood.

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