Sunday, December 1, 2013

The First Coin-Op Video Game Popularity Chart?

Today's post is a quick one. It's obvious from reading this blog how invaluable I think trade journals like RePlay and Play Meter are to any student of coin-op history. One of my favorite features of these magazines is the annual operator survey or state of the industry survey.
They were usually published in the November issue, sometimes with another one in the spring. They contained a trove of statistics covering things like weekly earning by machine type, total number of games on location, market share, player demographics, new equipment buying patterns, total number of street locations and arcades, average number of games per location/operator, top operator complaints, and more.
My absolute favorite feature of the polls, however, was the list of top games for the year. I have always been an inveterate lover of lists and charts. I used to spend hours poring over things like the Baseball Encyclopedia and Joel Whitburn's Billboard books, so these were right up my alley.
Today, I'd thought I post the earliest such list I could find.
It appeared in the April, 1976 issue of RePlay and listed the top "arcade" games in the country. Note that while the term "arcade" games, when used in RePlay, normally did not include pinball games, table games (foosball, air hockey, pool tables), wall games, or ball bowlers/shuffle alleys - in this list, it appears to include any game that was found in arcades.


  1. A fascinating look at an industry in transition. I find it interesting that so many EM novelty games are still high earners in 1976, which reinforces the notion that it really took Space Invaders to cement the video game in the arcade and kill off EM for good. Only a couple of pinball games, of course, because pinball was in decline in the early 1970s. The effect of Wizard on pinball can already be seen in this chart, and of course once solid state became widespread in 1977, pinball experienced some of its best years before the video game boom took hold. I also find it interesting that Pong and Paddle Battle and all the rest have already fallen off as one would expect, but Winner still appears in the honorable mention area. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I do remember some of those early arcade games, as I probably saw them in Timeout amusement centers. I remember some kind of shooting gallery game I played when I was a very young kid. The background was an actual image of a swamp/forest, and the animals and or targets were just white images that blended into the background, and the player used a sensory gun to shoot the targets on the screen.
    True the early games were just mostly over head race tracks, driving games, pong, and they really didn't have color or much sound. Of course the most controversial and violent game in the 70's was Death Race. I also remember a football game where the players were X's and O's. Anything beyond that like Circus was just purely amazing.