Videogame collectors love to argue over what is rare and how many of a game was made. I have tried to gather as many production numbers as I could find here, so people can get an idea of how many of these various machines were made.

Most video game companies do not disclose their production numbers, but most pinball manufacturers do (go figure?). So finding out how many of a game was made can be a difficult task. Good estimates (or exact numbers), are available for most of the really popular games from the classic era. Most of these numbers come from ex-employees, or from the simple fact that a lot of companies used normal serial numbers that started with 001 and went up from there.

All the really big production numbers were done in the classic era, specifically the period of time before 1984. Back then a great game could easily sell 40,000 units. Most of the popular games from the big name companies did huge numbers (Atari, Williams, and Midway specifically). It was odd for Atari or Midway to make a game with a run of less than a few thousand. But the smaller manufacturers usually had runs in the hundreds, and sometimes even in the tens. This all stopped in 1984 when the game industry crashed. Production numbers started going way down in 1984, and they never came back up. Most games from the 1985-1986 era had runs of around 1000 or less, with a few exceptions from big name companies (Gauntlet, et cetera). The industry slowly rebounded, but they simply never got back into the massive production that they once enjoyed. Today few games do more than a few thousand units (except for fighting game kits), and there are far less titles available now then at any point in the past.

What does all that mean? Well basically it means that the most common games are actually the old ones, and newer games are actually the rare ones. I'll bet you will find 100 Ms. Pac-Man machines (1982) for every Skull & Crossbones machine (1989). But enough blabbing, lets get to the numbers I have compiled.

Exact numbers and decent estimates

Most of these numbers are really close, and most of the Atari ones are exact. Some are inferred from serial numbers, others come from leaked documents, or statements from employees of the respective companies. These numbers are largely for the US versions of the games, the European versions were usually in slightly different cabinets and were made in much smaller numbers, while the Japanese versions were often totally different (or non-existant in the case of many Atari titles).

Less than exact numbers, speculation, lies, and dirty lies.

These numbers come from rumor, memory, speculation, and other inexact sources.

  • Blaster (wooden cabinet) Probably only a few hundred, most Blasters shipped in the DuraMold cabinet.
  • Crunch Pod Zero This game existed only as a prop in "Pepper Ann".
  • Death Race Less than 1,000
  • Defender Somewhere around 50,000
  • Donkey Kong (Entire series) Close to 80,000 or so.
  • Exidy (All titles) Most Exidy games only had a run of a few hundred. They didn't have facilities to do much more than that.
  • Galaxian (25" display) Not too many, as 19" models seem to outnumber the 25" ones about 50 to 1.
  • Gyruss Thought to be around 10,000, but that number is purely an estimate.
  • Hard Drivin': Airborne Maybe 25 or so? It was tested but never went into wide production.
  • Jack The Giantkiller, Naughty Boy, and Zzyzzyxx (combined) 5,000 boardsets were made for this platform in total.
  • Jackie Chan In Fists Of Fire Not nearly enough!
  • Joust Somewhere around 40,000 to 60,000
  • Manhole Zero This game has showed up as a prop in a lot of television shows (Silver Spoons, Married with Children, et cetera), but it is only an empty cabinet, and has nothing inside.
  • Moppet Video (total of all titles) A few thousand at best, most of which are long gone now.
  • Nintendo Vs. Unisystem Less than 80,000 total, because these were made for retrofitting Donkey Kong series games. Probably more like 40,000.
  • Puppy Pong At least 35, but no more than 100.
  • Red Baron (original cabinet style, before they started using spare Battlezone cabinets) 3-10
  • Robotron 2084 11,000 (Unverified, I can't remember where I read that number)
  • Shark JAWS Less than 500 (Highest serial number I can find is mine, and that is number 311)
  • Splat! A few hundred at best, probably less.
  • Star Castle 8,000-10,000
  • Street Fighter 2 (all versions) Way too many! (Apparently it was around 35,000. This was the only game ever to break 30,000 after 1984).
  • Sundance Around 100, almost all of which blew up the minute they were plugged in.
  • Super Death Chase less than 10.
  • The Last Starfighter Zero This game never existed as anything other than a movie prop, and a prototype boardset that didn't work correctly.
  • Time Pilot (cocktail) Probably less than 100. The serial number on mine is 000007, and I can't find anyone else who owns one, and an extensive usenet search only shows mention of two others, both of which were seen at live auctions.
  • Time Pilot '84 (dedicated) A few hundred, as the vast majority of these were kits to retrofit Time Pilot.
  • Vindicators 2 A few hundred (WonkoDSane owns NOS sideart for this game because I gave it to him!)

If you would like to know about a specific game that I didn't list, then send me a /msg and I will check it out, and add some information about it.

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