Do you have to eat at Dave and Busters or can you just play games?

Dave & Buster’s is a popular chain of entertainment complexes that offer both dining and arcade gaming under one roof. Many people love going to D&B to play the latest video games and redemption games like skee-ball, basketball, and whack-a-mole. But do you have to purchase food and drinks to enjoy the games or can you just pay for gameplay?

Quick Answers

Here are quick answers to the key questions around eating vs playing at Dave & Buster’s:

  • You do not have to purchase any food or drinks to play games at Dave & Buster’s.
  • You can pay a cover charge to access the game area without buying anything from the restaurant.
  • The cover charge gives you unlimited access to games for the day.
  • You can also buy game cards to load up with game credits instead of paying a cover.
  • D&B does not require any food/drink purchase to play games with a cover charge or game card.
  • You can freely access the game area and play for the entire day without ordering anything.
  • Food and drinks are completely optional – the gaming area is open to all with a cover charge.

Cover Charges for Game Play

Dave & Buster’s allows customers to pay a cover charge to access the gaming area without ordering any food or drinks. This cover charge grants you unlimited access to all games for the entire day.

The cost of the cover charge varies by location and day. Generally, it ranges from $10-$15 on weekdays and $15-$20 on weekends/holidays. D&B locations in bigger cities and tourist areas tend to have higher cover charges.

Paying the cover charge gets you a Power Card you can load up with game credits. You can then enjoy all of the arcade and redemption games using the credits on this card all day long. When you run out of credits, you can add more to the card.

Cover Charge Benefits

  • Unlimited game play all day
  • No requirement to purchase food/drinks
  • Power Card for game credits
  • In and out privileges to take breaks

The cover charge allows you to come and go as you please from the game area. Many guests take advantage of this perk to take meal breaks outside of D&B without having to pay the cover again.

Who Should Pay the Cover Charge

Paying the Dave & Buster’s cover charge makes the most sense for customers who:

  • Want to only play games for several hours
  • Don’t plan on eating at the D&B restaurant
  • Are looking to get the most bang for their buck from game play

Groups that want to enjoy a full day of arcade gaming get a great value from the cover charge. Families with kids can stay and play games all day without having to buy food.

Cover Charge vs Eating at D&B

The main trade-off with just paying the cover charge is that you miss out on the dining experience at Dave & Buster’s. The D&B menu includes tasty American fare like burgers, wings, pizza, and appetizers.

Many guests find it’s more fun to enjoy a meal and drinks in between playing games. However, the cover charge option is there if you just want to forego food and focus solely on arcade gaming.

Game Play with Game Cards

In addition to a cover charge, Dave & Buster’s sells redeemable game cards that can be loaded up with game credits. These cards can be used to play games without having to pay a cover or order any food/drinks.

Game cards come in a variety of denominations like $10, $20, and $50. The cards can be loaded up with game credits at kiosks in the D&B arcade area. Each game requires a different amount of credits to activate.

Benefits of Game Cards

  • Avoid having to pay for a cover charge
  • Only spend money on the game credits you want
  • Can be reused on future visits
  • Share cards among friends/family playing together

Credits on game cards do not expire, so they can be saved for future trips. Players also have the flexibility to only load the exact amount of credits they wish to use.

Who Should Use Game Cards

Purchasing a D&B game card makes the most sense for guests who:

  • Want to control how much they spend on games
  • Plan multiple trips to use remaining credits
  • Do not plan on staying very long
  • Want flexibility in when they play

Casual players who drop in for short gaming sessions typically get the best value from pre-loaded cards. Families can share a game card without each person having to pay an individual cover.

Game Cards vs Cover Charges

Game cards allow you to forgo paying a cover charge altogether. However, they do not grant unlimited access to play games all day like a cover charge does.

With game cards, you have to pay upfront for the game credits. This contrasts the cover that allows you to keep playing more games as long as you stay. But unused credits remain on cards for future visits.

Playing Games Without Food, Drinks, or Cover

While Dave & Buster’s encourages food/drink purchases during game play, you are under no obligation to order anything from the restaurant menu.

Playing games without any food, drinks, or cover charge is totally permitted at D&B. Here is how it works:

  • Enter the D&B location and proceed directly to the game area
  • Browse all the game options open to the public
  • Select a game and observe other players
  • After someone finishes, you can step in and play a game for free
  • Most games allow a free demo or promotional round
  • Play the free rounds then step aside for other players
  • Move on to another vacant game and repeat

The key is to wait for games to open up after someone else leaves. Without game credits or a cover charge, you cannot occupy machines for long periods of time.

Benefits of Free Play

  • No mandatory purchase requirements
  • Demo the latest games
  • Play in short bursts
  • Challenge friends for free

This method gives you a chance to check out D&B’s newest game offerings. It’s also fun for brief sessions with a friend to see who can get the higher score on free demos.

Downsides of Free Play

Limitations include:

  • Very short play time per game
  • Constantly having to switch games
  • Must wait for other guests to finish
  • No chance for redemption prizes

Without purchased credits, you cannot have lengthy uninterrupted game sessions. Prizes require redeeming a certain amount of tickets earned from games.

Who Should Use Free Play

Free play makes the most sense for D&B guests who:

  • Only want a brief game experience
  • Are curious to try the arcade offerings
  • Have limited funds for entertainment
  • Are waiting for friends/family already playing

Casual visitors who just want a quick look around the game area can take advantage of free demos. It allows you to check out D&B without committing to game cards or a cover.

FAQ on D&B Game Play and Food Policies

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Dave & Buster’s policies on purchasing food and playing games:

Can I only play games if I buy food?

No, you absolutely do not have to order any food or drinks to play games at Dave & Buster’s. You can access the arcade area and play using game credits from a card, cover charge, or free play.

Do I have to keep buying food to stay in the game area?

Dave & Buster’s does not require guests to continually buy food or drinks to remain in the game area. Once you pay a cover or purchase game credits, you can stay and play for as long as you want without ordering anything else.

Can I bring my own food and drink?

No outside food or drinks are allowed. Guests who bring their own meals or beverages will be asked to finish or discard them before entering.

Can kids play games without adult supervision?

Children under age 15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian age 18+ at all times. Kids cannot be left unattended in the game area for safety reasons.

What is the best value for game play?

Frequent guests tend to get the most value from a cover charge on busy days with extended play. Buying a rechargeable game card can also get you more bang for your buck compared to play-per-swipes if you make multiple visits.

What is the dress code?

Dave & Buster’s wants a family-friendly environment. Clothing with offensive language/images or revealing outfits are prohibited. Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times.


Dave & Buster’s offers great flexibility for guests who want to enjoy the arcade and redemption games. You do not need to buy any food or drinks to play games at D&B. Purchasing a rechargeable game card provides plenty of entertainment value across multiple visits.

A cover charge is the best option for all-day unlimited game play. But you can also play free promotional rounds when available by waiting near games after others finish. This allows you to demo D&B’s fun gaming offerings without any mandatory purchases.

While the restaurant menu is enticing, the key takeaway is that food, drinks, and even cover charges are not necessary to access Dave & Buster’s energetic gaming area. So go enjoy the games for as long as you want – no mandatory meal or drink purchases required!

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