A new monthly subscription service run by a pair of San Francisco Bay Area brothers aims to ease suffering for those with a serious case of Pac-Man fever.
With their rental service, All You Can Arcade, Seth and Timothy Peterson drop off hulking arcade machines to homes and offices around the state. Among the titles available are '80s classics, including "Ms. Pac Man," "Donkey Kong" and "Tron." And the machines are always set to "free play," so there's no need for quarters, the company's website states.
The Petersons launched their enterprise last month and say their plan is based on old-school economics. They rent the games out for $75 a month after purchasing the machines on the cheap and refurbishing them to their former glory.
"It's a lot of fun looking for the bargains, scoring them off Craigslist or eBay or through the Internet forums. Anywhere we can find them," said Seth Peterson.
He said he and his brother Timothy have been collecting the vintage cabinet games and fixing them up for years. He said they pay about $150 to $200 for the games and have developed a knack for "getting them real quick, taking them home and then doing what we need to do to get them ready for our customers."
All You Can Arcade operates across California. Customers can find out which games are available in their zip code through the company website. The Petersons hope to expand to the East Coast later this year.
With traffic buzzing by them on a busy downtown San Francisco street recently, the Petersons loaded a 250-pound "Galaga" machine into a seventh-floor office.
Seeing the game being wheeled in on a dolly, employees at the advertising firm 11 Inc. clapped and hooted with excitement, ready to zap pixelated bugs from outer space.
At a time when gamers focus on elaborate home video systems that feature cinematic graphics and realistic experiences, these low-tech games featuring simply designed cartoon characters level the playing field between generations, said Rob Kabus, president of 11 Inc.
"I feel relatively fearless challenging anybody here no matter what age," Kabus said of his company's new toy. "But when I go home, there's no way I can engage my son on Xbox. It's over in about 15 seconds on a good day."