Playing Games

Austin pinball mecca now renting classic arcade games for at-home fun

Austin pinball mecca now renting classic arcade games for at-home fun

Pinballz arcade game mario kart
Now you can play the Mario Kart arcade game from your living room. Photo courtesy of Pinballz

Before, when Austinites wanted to enjoy a bit of gaming fun, all they had to do was pop into one of the three Pinballz locations to get their fill of classic pinball, retro favorites, and modern video games. Given our current times, you may not be able to pay a visit to Pinballz right now — but they can bring the fun to you.

Pinballz is renting out games from their inventory of 600 (yes, 600!), and will deliver right to your home. With such a large selection that includes games like Galaga, Space Invaders, and The Simpsons pinball, chances are the arcade has it. And if not, the staff is happy to give a recommendation for a great alternative.

“Everyone is pretty stressed out right now and playing a video game or pinball machine is a great way to escape. We all need to take a break for fun but everyone’s options are pretty limited right now,” says Deb Lovett, the Pinballz marketing manager. “It really lightens the mood to have one of these games in your home. Two or four players are usually able to play so it makes a great option for families.”

For a limited time, Pinballz is offering a special discount of 50 percent game rentals for four or more weeks. While the exact rental price can vary depending on the game, video and pinball machine rentals start at $200 per week or $400 per month, plus tax and delivery.

Say you’d love to be playing Ms. Pac-Man all afternoon long in your living room, but are wondering if your house is equipped for it. Pinballz games need to be placed near an electrical outlet that can run up to 4 amps and be run through a surge protector. Customers who don't have a surge protector, no worries — one will be provided. Besides that, it’s just a matter of checking the width of nearby doors, (garages work, too) to ensure your new makeshift arcade can fit.

To keep the delivery and installation of the game as safe as possible for customers and workers alike, Pinballz has a set of hygiene protocols in place.

“First, all our locations have received a deep COVID-19 sanitization. We don’t touch the games without gloves and masks on, so from the moment we start the move back in our warehouse to the moment we leave the game renter’s home, the game has been handled with safety first," Pinballz CEO/owner Darren Spohn says. "Once we arrive at the rental location, we sanitize the game again. Maintaining six feet social distance, we install the game, share with the customer any tips for game play, and are quickly on our way.”

Pinballz’s attention to health and safety extends further than the transportation process.

“Our team performs temperature checks before starting work and multiple times throughout the day. We also do a pre-screen survey regarding any health symptoms in the household to protect our staff and other customers,” Spohn explains.

Once a game has been selected, you won't have to long to kick off the fun since Pinballz is currently delivering within 48 hours. If they have space on the truck and the customer is near an existing order, they’ll make the delivery even sooner. They’re currently delivering as far north as Georgetown and as far south as San Marcos.

Once it’s time to return your game rental, the company calls to arrange a pick-up time. If you love the game so much you want to keep it, there is an option to do just that. Most Pinballz games are for sale, and a portion of the rental price can even be applied to the game.

“We are in the business of fun, so it’s very meaningful to us to continue to bring a smile to people’s faces, especially during these really tough times,” says Lovett. Thinking back on recent rentals, she recalls two particularly memorable cases both paid for and coordinated by people from out of town.

“One was a birthday surprise for someone unable to celebrate by going out and doing all their favorite things. So their friend brought Pinballz Arcade to them! We even sent a birthday card along with the delivery,” Lovett says. “The other rented a game as a surprise for a friend here in Austin who is a nurse here in the ER. Apparently our video game was part of an even larger care package including several days worth of local barbecue.”

While these game rentals and sales are certainly a way to create joy, it's also a way to support an Austin institution until it's able to reopen. And that's not the only way Pinballz fans can offer their support.

Since beginning its own internally funded Employee Relief Fund, Pinballz has gone on to open it up to outside contributions through its online store. Each piece of merchandise and game card includes a specific amount that’ll go to the ERF. For example, $5 per each shirt sale and $5 of each $50 game card becomes an ERF contribution. The Pinballz store also has the option to give a 100 percent direct ERF contribution.

To rent one of the Pinballz games, fill out a request on their website.