Redneck racing popularity invades pinball world

Redneck racing popularity invades pinball world

By Fearless_Leader

January 12, 2005


14 years ago

As reported in last month's Pinside expos' on the upcoming Sopranos pinball from Stern, NASCAR has now been confirmed as the next offering from that company. The game has been produced by Pat Lawlor's design team, and the game is expected to be released in late Summer of 2005.

Playfield toys and plastics for the game have already been produced, and prototypes are expected to be built in the March - April timeframe. One interesting feature of the game is that the machine will feature several different cabinet trims and playfield detailing. In this manner, owners of NASCAR Pinball will be able to pick their favorite driver/number, although gameplay and sound are likely to be unchanged.

News of the game is thought to leave hardcore pinball fans cautious of the title, rather than excited. Stern has received both worldwide acclaim, as well as harsh criticism for producing its recent games with themes from only commercial licenses, such as Lord of the Rings, Monopoly, and Harley-Davidson. "NASCAR" is targeted directly at fans of the popular American racing sport, itself a big moneymaker with its merchandising and product tie-ins. While hardcore devotees of pinball may eschew Stern's marketing practice, it is undeniably successful, as the number of "Simpsons Pinball Party", "Monopoly", and most recently, "Elvis" games, can attest.

Will "NASCAR" continue the trend of franchising popular commercial licenses into successful pinball themes ? Or will wholly orignal design concepts make a return one day soon for Stern ? Time will tell...

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Comments

14 years ago
I am curious what people outside the United States think of what I feel are games themed for a US audience. How many Europeans, Australians and New Zealanders... love NASCAR racing, followed the Sopranos on TV, or avidly watch poker tournaments?

Dane: North Carolina, USA
14 years ago
I suppose it could be viewed as somewhat inflammatory, considering the percentage of Stern NIB machines earmarked for outside-US shipping. NASCAR appeals only to a certain segment of the US population- those that consider it "sport". And the latest craze over WSOP is isolated only to the United States- few others across the world enjoy Texas Hold 'Em, or even consider it "poker" (including those who've seen "Rounders".
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Then again- pinball is an exclusively American tradition, both in terms of both history and market share. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the themes are borne out of Hollywood movies (e.g. Addams Family, Back to the Future, Krull, T2, T3), American sports (e.g. NFL, NBA Fastbreak, Shaq Attaq, Bobby Orr's Powerplay). Like it or not, it is American companies that will decided on these themes... for love or profit.
13 years ago
I don't know why, but I always assumed that the US made up about half the pinball market with the rest of the world making up the other half. I wonder if a tightly focused theme like NASCAR has a larger appeal than a general racing theme (NASCAR, Formula, Cart, IMSA...). Would each racing series demand it's own full royalty? I also wonder about Elvis. I think an Elvis in Vegas could also cash in on the current Las Vegas popularity (maybe fat Elvis is not as popular?).
13 years ago
I've never understood the problem with licensed themes, after all the fast majority of top rated machines made by Williams were all licensed themes - Addams Family, Twilight Zone and Indiana Jones!! I think we should start worrying if they stop making licensed themes!
13 years ago
NASCAR has only a miniscule awareness in Australia. The Sopranos has a cult (read: "small") following. These themes are unlikely to incite much INITIAL interest outside of the US. However, if these machines offer particularly good GAMEPLAY then I'm sure they will find a share of buyers here. An obscure licence is as (in)effective as original artwork, in that sense. All things considered, a licence with broad appeal has got to be better than one with only US appeal. If I ran Stern I would be looking for licences with more international appeal.
13 years ago
Good point, Virt. That would certainly explain why "Terminator 3" and "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" were busts (of course, I thought gameplay suffered in those two games, coincidentally). My main point though was that, whether you like the particular license or not, NO new game is produced these days without being under an existing license. It's as though Stern is incapable, or perhaps frightened of producing a completely original game in concept.
13 years ago
Take Data East (Or Sega) for example, sega made a pinball machine called baywatch, and I played it, and I thought it was a fine pinball game. I like Licensed pinball machines anyway. I don't care what game I'm playing. Just as long as I understand the object of the game (Besides scoring points, getting replays, extra balls, etc), I'm happy.
13 years ago
After reading all of this discussion, it makes me wonder what kind of "original theme" are people looking for? Whatever it would be, I would assume it would have to reflect our current cultures. Characters like PinBot, Gorgar, Cactus Jack, etc - would a new character like "Harry Humdinger" (just making up something - you pick the theme) make for a pinball machine we would all pay/play/buy ? If playability is the factor, then why do we care if the theme is licensed and familiar? If one were to ask me for something out of the ordinary (albeit licensed) I would think a cool theme would be Halloween (the movies) with Michael Myers.... that mask...that music...Jamie Lee Curtis speech...think of the artwork and the BACKGLASS !!! This movie series has been well respected and it typically has never been considered "cheesy" like Freddy or Jason movies. The movies also have a cult following of fans - even annual conventions! Who knows, my secondary ideas would be The Muppets (seriously - hasn't been done!), King Of The Hill, etc... But for ORIGINAL themes, something appealing and groundbreaking would have to be something that appeals to a large audience - an original theme based around a dark evil broken down theme park (called "Carnival") with wooden roller coasters made of plastic as the ramps, lots of ghosts, rusty lamp posts with illumination that flickers, maybe even an upper playfield. Toys could be real broken down carnival rides that hold balls - The Scrambler, a old carosel, who knows. It would be like combining Haunted House with Cirquis Voltaire. Would we buy into it ? You have to put yourself into Gary Stern's shoes - it's a huge gamble. GARY - if you are reading, I would contact Moustafa Akkad (Halloween executive producer) if I were you. A machine by this halloween, or by the time their next sequel is released, could be a great machine based on this series' legacy.
13 years ago
In New Zealand NASCAR is played on cable tv (SKY) which is well subscribed. I often see NASCAR in pubs and other public places with cable tv. As long as the game is not boring to play, has good artwork, toys, humour etc who cares if it's a US theme? It may have a small production run but the license paid for it will be smaller too. Already STERN has shown it is aware of cultural sensibilities. "The Soprano's" has many modifications available for the Middle East market. It's good business. I'm sure many non-Christian countries like/love pinball so it's great tyo cater to them. Iraq sure needs some pinball machines for it's stressed out citizens, politicians, police and soldiers stationed there. Will STERN make it to Iraq? Or rather, when will they make it to Iraq? As for another licensed theme, I read Slash of Velvet Revover musing about making a Velvet Revolver pinball machine. Anyway, this discussion is really good as is this website. Keep up the good work whoever runs pinside and if you're a member I'd say don't be afraid to express your point of veiw, either in agreement/disagreement, or a little of both. We need to help STERN become a strong company so we're never short of a good new machine.
7 years ago
They have not changed

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