$650 - $850
I have a confession: my family adores board games. So much that we built a dining room table that converts to a board game table. We have dozens (and dozens) of board games. Does that sound like your family? Then you should take a serious look at Arcade1Up’s Infinity Game Table.
The Infinity Game Table (IGT) offers a simple promise: it’s essentially a coffee table that doubles as a digital board game table. At first glance, it’s an unassuming flat surface that will probably fit well enough in your living room, but the real magic starts when you turn it on. The IGT hosts dozens of board games you can play with friends and family members. And if you know anyone else that owns one, you can even play online.
I’ve spent a few weeks with the $650 24-inch model now (it also comes in a $950 32-inch model), and it’s quickly becoming one of the favorite gaming systems in my home. That’s no small compliment considering I have half a dozen arcade and pinball machines, let alone the Xbox Series X, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. But despite all that, it’s not perfect. But it is getting better all the time.
Table of Contents
So Simple to Build You Can Skip This Section
If you’re familiar with Arcade1Up, you know that most of its products consist of arcade machines that arrive in flat-pack boxes. You follow some IKEA-level instructions to build a cabinet in about forty-five minutes.
The IGT is nothing like that. It basically arrives fully assembled. It is, after all, a giant glass tablet on some legs. So, what do you have to do? Install the legs. And that’s optional, if you prefer you can leave the legs off and place it on any flat surface, whether that’s the floor for your children or a dining room table to make it taller. The legs slide into slots on the bottom and lock into place with classic metal pushbuttons. You can even remove them later if you want.
The hardware itself is understated, which is fine. The legs are grey, the top is consists of a large black bezel and the screen, and you’ll find two Arcade1Up logos at opposite corners. Look underneath, and you’ll find a storage spot for the plug and the optional battery (coming sometime in the future). And naturally, you’ll find the power button, along with two volume buttons.
I don’t particularly care for the power button, by the way. It’s mushy and unsatisfying. You don’t get any click or feedback, which means I often try to turn the IGT on, think I didn’t push the button right, try again, and end up turning it back off just as the startup sequence fires. At this point, I keep the IGT on a smart plug and turn it on and off by voice. Thankfully, even though it doesn’t feel like a mechanical switch, it seems to remember its last on/off state.
One set of legs includes small clips to help with cable management for the power cord. They’re serviceable, I guess, but if you plan to take the legs on and off frequently, I’d skip the clips. I found them difficult to lock and unlock; once you close them up, they want to stay that way.
The one thing to keep in mind is this is a giant glass table with a giant touch screen built into it. It’s mildly heavy (46 pounds) and somewhat awkward to lift. You can move it from room to room with some muscle, but I wouldn’t exactly call this thing portable. It’s about as fun to move from the living room to an office as a plush chair—doable certainly, but nowhere near convenient as your average tablet. And don’t expect to take this outside on a bright sunny day. I tried that once, and even under my deck’s gazebo, the IGT became a shiny mirror and unplayable.
Some Games Are Better on a Touch Screen
So then, you’re probably wondering about the real meat and potatoes of this review: how is the gameplay? Pretty good, actually! Well, mostly. During its Kickstarter run, Arcade1Up promised some heavyweight lifters, like Ticket to Ride and Pandemic. But, unfortunately, those aren’t ready, so I can’t tell you if they’re any good.
Right now, you can play Monopoly, Mahjong, Scrabble, Sorry, Battleship, and more. I’m surprised to say that playing Monopoly on the IGT is better than the “real thing.” Or at least, far more convenient. That’s mainly due to setup. Think about most board games: you have to get out the box, open it up, unfold the board, sort the cash and pieces, remind yourself of the rules, and so on. It can take a while to get a board game ready to play. And then the game itself can drag on, especially in Monopoly‘s case.
The IGT eschews all that. Just open the game, pick your pieces, and even choose any house rules you’d like. Arcade1Up and Hasbro did a good job of including all the most common house rules, like getting a pot of money for landing on free parking. You’re up and running in less than five minutes. The computer acts as a banker, and it helps you move your pieces, too. When you roll a five, you could tap each space individually and count it out, but the game will go ahead and highlight where your piece will land, and if you tap there, it’ll do all the work for you.
You even get fun touches reminiscent of real board game play—your dice roll around the board and can knock over game pieces, houses, and hotels. Buying, selling, and even bargaining are easy, too, and the game walks you through the process. It works really well. Some fun vibration haptics even adds to the feel of the games (especially in Battleship when you hit an enemy).
Do you love Mahjong? Of course you do; it’s a classic matching domino game with only one issue—it’s a pain to set up. But with the IGT, you can select a difficulty level, and everything is set to go. We play Mahjong a lot because it’s a quick game to play. You’re ready to go in seconds, and you don’t have to play all night. Othello, Chutes and Ladders, and others all benefit from the quick setup. Not to mention you don’t have to worry about storing boxes of games somewhere.
And it looks like Arcade1Up is starting to experiment with some games that don’t fall into the traditional board game format. Infinity Pirate Battle is a quick and fun little game that has you slingshotting cannonballs at other player’s pirate ships. If you get a gold cannonball, you can fire at your own ship for extra points. It’s silly and pointless, but sometimes that’s the perfect game to play with your kids.
Other Games Are Worse
But not every game is as successful. Take Battleship, for instance. The setup here is almost the opposite experience—marred by the nature of the IGT instead of helped. In Battleship, the first thing you need to do is place all your ships on your board. Well, you can’t take your board somewhere else, so the person you’re playing against can’t see your choices—it’s a big heavy tablet. So, the only option is to ask the other person to turn around then do the same yourself. It’s awkward.
Similarly, Scrabble runs into issues. When everyone shares one screen, where do you hide your pieces? Sure, you do have a button to hide them temporarily, but then it’s hard to plan ahead. To help solve that problem, the IGT comes with four paper privacy screens that block the view of your pieces. Leaving aside how flimsy they are, and that you’ll probably lose them, they don’t work well.
Yes, they block the pieces from view, but they also act as a barrier to you. You have to drag the letters to play a word, which means moving and adjusting your privacy screen out of the way. I don’t understand why Arcade1Up didn’t create a second screen app for exactly these scenarios. Something that connects to the game table and lets you choose your pieces or place your Battleship. A quick fix, at least, would be to let the player tap the letter they want to place, then tap the spot it should go. And if you have a 3D printer, you can print better privacy screens.
And I can’t decide if Chess is good or bad. By default it’s bad, that’s for certain. Because the initial view is a topdown 2D view of the chess pieces, and you can’t always tell the difference between a pawn and a bishop. It’s difficult. Thankfully, you can enable a 3D view that helps massively, but it also has problems. The 3D view gives you an angled view of the chess pieces, very much like the camera moved to your sitting position. But the camera jumps back and forth between your sitting position and your opponent’s. So when it’s not your turn, you’re left with an odd off-angle view that’s hard to look at, which makes planning ahead difficult.
And in one case, the game just doesn’t translate well. That would be Operation, which isn’t surprising. How do you emulate using a pair of tweezers to dig out a tiny organ on a touch screen? In this case, you don’t do any of that. Instead, you drag an icon through a twisty maze and try not to touch the edges. It’s … uh… a thing, I guess.
I should also take this moment to mention the music. The first thing you should do after loading every game is mute the music in settings. Most of the music is bland and repetitive. It’ll get old really quick and drive you a bit nuts. Sometimes it doesn’t match the game very well (I’m looking at you, Mahjong, with your piano jazz).
Strange choices like that are par for the course, I’m afraid. You’ll find a coloring book app on the IGT, and as long as you stick to the stuff meant for children, it works fine. But pick some of the more detailed adult coloring pages, and you’ll be disappointed. That’s because the lines are sometimes very faint, and when you go to fill a small spot, the entire page fills instead. I’m also confused by the Tablecloth “screensaver” app that lets you choose from many themes, except a tablecloth theme.
Online Play Is Both Good and Bad
The IGT has online play! So if you want to play a game of Monopoly or Scrabble, you can connect to someone else’s game table and play together. I had a chance to try it out, and I came away both impressed and disappointed with the system.
Let’s get into why I was disappointed. First off: there are no game lobbies. You have to know someone with a table, add them as a friend, and get them to add you back. Right now, the best way to find friends is to join the Arcade1Up Reddit or Infinity Game Table Facebook page and tell strangers your username and try to arrange a game. Arcade1Up needs to add a lobby system.
Still, I played a quick Monopoly game with a few other reviewers just to test the system. Here’s the bad news: every one of us lost connection to the game at some point. The poor host kept blaming our shaky Wi-Fi connections, but I have a rock-solid Wi-Fi 6 mesh system running at near-gigabit speeds. So, I don’t think that was the problem.
But I still came away impressed because it didn’t matter. Once it was clear I lost connection (I couldn’t roll my dice or buy a property), all I had to do was exit the game and re-enter. The ongoing game showed up as a saved game, and I re-joined without losing any progress. We all went through that process without any trouble. However, Arcade1Up is saving these online games; it works reliably.
But keep in mind that the IGT doesn’t have cameras or microphones. Nor do the games have any sort of chat function. So unless you arrange a video call, you can’t communicate with your online opponent. It’ll feel a lot like playing a (hopefully smarter) computer. At the very least a chat function might help with things like bargaining in Monopoly. Yes, the tools are there to auction properties and the like, but without the ability to talk you just have to put out the offer and let them accept or say no. You miss out on the true bargaining aspect that comes with talking.
It’s Getting Better All the Time
You should never buy anything on the promise that it will be great someday. So I hesitate to say this, but it’s encouraging that the IGT has already seen improvements since I started testing it. Arcade1Up released several games in the last few weeks, including Simon and Pirate Battle. And the little game ad off to the side saysThe Game of Life will arrive in July. But that doesn’t feel guaranteed, as it used to say Hungry Hungry Hippos would arrive in June, which came and went, and now the ad says “coming soon.”
Arcade1Up even put together a developer site so anyone can submit games for the table. Eventually, the company plans to sell games, though pricing is to be decided. I’m looking forward to Ticket to Ride and Pandemic, as those are good examples of games with lots of pieces to lose and big boxes to store. Right now, all the included games are free, and they will remain free even when paid games do arrive.
But that also reveals an underlying truth about the IGT, too: it’s not complete yet. It has two USB ports and a microSD card slot that do nothing. It’s missing multiple promised games and the comic book reader promised in the Kickstarter. It desperately needs an app to improve some of the games. It’s getting better all the time, but the truth is until that arrives, you should proceed as if it never will. But I still think it’s a worthy buy for families.
This Is a Great System for Families
Like most physical board games, you probably won’t enjoy the IGT much if you don’t have friends or family to play with. At least not without game lobbies. But for families, it’s an excellent buy, though I recommend sticking with the $650 24-inch version.
I know that sounds like a lot of money, but consider what you get: a 24-inch touch screen tablet built into a functional coffee table. And on top of that, you get immediate access to 32 games, with more arriving soon. It’s large enough for three or four people to sit around comfortably, and it will fit nearly anywhere in your home.
I didn’t get to test the 32-inch version, but it doesn’t feel worth the extra $200 for the bigger screen size. That’s all you’re paying for … well that, and the smaller bezels. Normally that latter bit sounds like a good thing, but the bezels on the 24-inch are the perfect size to hold a drink (with the included coasters, of course). I’ve seen pictures of the 32-inch version, and drinks end up in the play area, which I don’t like.
I know I’ve pointed out plenty of flaws in this review, but I can’t emphasize enough how good the good parts are. In my family, we’ve used the Infinity Game Table nearly every day since it arrived. And in a testament to how much we like it, we’re currently rearranging the living room to give it a better home. That even means we’re taking one of the lesser-played arcade machines downstairs. I can’t think of a better compliment to give the Infinity Game Table.
$650 - $850
Here’s What We Like
- Many games work great
- Quick set up time
- Easy assembly
And What We Don't
- Games will cost an unknown amount
- Some games don't work as well as others