Let me preface by saying that I worked on promoting the first Pinstastic NE and give Gabe huge amounts of credit for putting on a good show. I've been to PNE every year, and, until this year, had a great time.
But this year I was really turned off by a number of things, really none of which had to do with the way Gabe ran the show and more to do with just the way things went. I went on Saturday, when usually I go on Friday, and maybe that's the difference.
1. The folks who brought all of the JJ games there. It was great to be able to try out POTC and Dialed-In, games you almost never see in the public.
2. The Cointakers folks for bringing Houdini there. But they did a lousy job of trafficing play (more on this later)
1. The freeplay room's selection was the worst it's even been. It's been going downhill each year, but this was by far the first. Very few A-list DMD games there. The only real surprise was the Cactus Canyon, and I'm amazed that the owner would actually allow such a rare pin to be subject to the abusive play of player (see below). If you are into EMs or 80s era games, it was perfect. But if you were looking to play top-notch DMD-era games you had little selection.
2. There were fewer games in the vendor area than in past years, and the lines for most of these were long.
3. The quality of the vendors seemed to decline. Far too many people selling non-pinball stuff like old video games, plush toys and tschoches. And, really, do we need to have the same old maker of cardboard games there year after year?
4. The pure selfishness of many players. This was most evident with the Houdini and JJ games. I waited in line for 45 minutes (with many people behind me) while a foursome of clearly expert players averaged about 10 minutes a ball. after 45 minutes, they were finally getting to the third ball. I couldn't stand it any more any more left. Every time I came back there, more "experts" were hogging the game. I never got to play it. The Cointaker people should have managed this better--either giving one ball per game per player or telling the hoggers to get away. Similar things happened with the JJP games. Okay, we know that some people are great players, but it's really rude if you're sitting there playing one ball for 10-15 minutes while others are waiting.
5. The pure abuse of games. I saw machines lifted, hit, slammed and shoved around--mainly by the same "expert" players who were hogging the top-notch new games. I also saw a number of people putting full plastic cups of beer right on top of freeplay games--how obnoxious! And the cockiness of these people was terrible. I was playing one game--the only TSPP there--and a guy next to me, playing a LOTR, obnoxiously kept shouting, "I have the high score! I dare you to try to beat my high score!" To which I replied, "I'm not here to compete, I honestly don't care about your score." But he wouldn't let up.
6. I realize the "VIP lounge" is a money-making enterprise, but I really feel is wasn't sure for the best games (usually the great ones Gabe brings) that in past years have been accessible to all to be kept in a place where your only way of playing them is to buy an expensive weekend pass. It creates an "us vs. them" situation that just leaves a bad taste, especially given that Gabe's games are usually the best ones in the house.
6. There were just too many people. Lines for the few top-notch games there were long, and, as said before, the experts hogged them to oblivion.
The experience me feeling depressed, something I've never felt at a PNE event before. I honestly think this will be the last one I will go to. It's just not worth spending the money to play, at best, 10 games on the machines you want to play because of limited selection and boorish, untrafficed behavior.