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Bitcoin Arcade Machine is 'On Like Donkey Kong'

(@joonian) | Published on January 29, 2014 at 13:01 BST

The games room specialist that developed a bitcoin-operated pool table has released its arcade machine equivalent.

Liberty Games, based in the UK, has developed a method of retrofitting arcade machines so that gamers can play with bitcoin rather than a bag full of metal coins.

The company's technical director Stuart Kerr said an arcade machine can be fitted with a Raspberry Pi, a simple credit-card sized computer, and other components so that gamers can send bitcoin to the machine owner's wallet. The method is similar to the one used by Liberty Games to outfit pool tables to accept bitcoin. Kerr said:

"We love arcade machines at Liberty Games, we've been selling them for over 10 years now ... [But] I'm not sure if it's just me, but I never have any coins on me, so the idea of an arcade machine that you can pay for in bitcoin seems like a really good idea!"

Kerr said the the company's arcade technicians worked alongside bitcoin-savvy employees to develop the machine. One machine has been fitted so far, but the firm has the ability to retrofit any of the coin-accepting arcade machines it sells, including the latest cabinets from publishers like SEGA or Namco.

Cheap as microchips

Kerr said fitting an arcade machine with the bitcoin option would be a relatively cheap endeavour. An operator running its own web server (for the Raspberry Pi to communicate with the Bitcoin network) would pay less than £100. He added that it would cost slightly more if Liberty Games hosted the server.

The Liberty Games arcade machine that's currently modified to accept bitcoin is the Galaxy Cosmic II 60-in-1 model. The stand-up cabinet features two sets of joysticks with six illuminated buttons each.

The display is a 20-inch flat-screen – a departure from the bulky CRT monitors arcade machines originally sported. The Galaxy Cosmic II features 60 classic games from the golden age of the coin-op, from Atari's Centipede to BurgerTime and Pac-Man and Nintendo's Donkey Kong series. The cabinet costs £949. Kerr added:

"There's no doubt that the people who like to play arcade games, especially the retro ones, also love their tech."

Though rescuing Princess Peach from the nefarious Donkey Kong with bitcoin may appeal, the bitcoin-accepting arcade machine is likely to remain a novelty product for some time. At least that's the opinion of Stephen Early, founder of Individual Pubs Ltd, which owns five pubs in the UK that accept bitcoin. Early noted that his pubs did not have any arcade machines in them.

"The fact that an arcade machine supports payment by bitcoin and cash is not going to be a big deal, really. For example, we take bitcoin over the counter at our pubs, but it's less than half a percentage point of our sales. So it's not a big deal at the moment."

International interest

Liberty Games previously released a bitcoin-accepted pool table that "attracted plenty of international interest". The firm has taken two orders on the tables, although it fielded inquiries from across the globe.

"We thought we might have a few tech-savvy pubs in the UK interested, but in reality the interest has been much more far flung than that. Bitcoin fans in South America and Asia seem really keen on the idea," Kerr said.

The firm is arranging to ship the tables, which can weigh up to 300kg, to international customers.

Liberty Games says it is the UK's largest supplier or pool tables, arcade machines and football (or foosball) tables. It sells more than 2,000 pool tables annually, and more than 1,000 arcade machines annually. According to Kerr, about 90% of the firm's business is in the UK.

View the machine in operation here.

Liberty GamesRaspberry Pi

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