Quoted from jrpinball:
There are only a few games that are convertible to true AAB play. The ones that say "convertible to add-a-ball" on the flyer (such as "Target Alpha" and other multi-player games), are not capable of true AAB play. They simply have a "same player shoots again" feature. There is no way to accumulate multiple extra balls that can be played off consecutively as on a true add-a-ball game.
There appear to be several convertible games--true ones, with "balls to Play" displays that go up to (usually) 10 balls. And they are single-player games. Those are the ones I'm referring to.
I also didn't realize that the "replays are useless in a home game" statement was so controversial. I'm not speaking from sentiment, but from playing experience and a bit of logical thinking. (I thought I explained it earlier, but somehow it seems to have been missed.) I read the other comments and none seem to disprove this assessment. For the record, I grew up playing replay games (in MA). And I have owned an AAB game (Gold Strike) for a long time.
So, what is the purpose of a replay? It gives you a **free game** if you reach a certain score. When I was a kid, that saved a quarter! (As did a match.) But in a home collection, all the games are already free! So the main joy of a replay (getting to play another game at no cost to you) is gone. You want a knocker to go off when you reach an arbitrary score? OK. Doesn't change the game tho. Adding balls to extend a game and get higher scores does.
And, from personal experience, the excitement of being close to activating the AAB feature (WOW or Special) to have a chance at adding balls and extending your game (with the possibility of draining and ending what could be an epic game if you get those added balls!) is much greater than activating and scoring a special just to say "I did it" and get an extra credit, when all games are free at home anyway. The AAB adds to the game itself; the replay is more like making the high score list on a modern game. People who say replays are better in a home pin (apart from rules-based differences) are the ones being emotional/nostalgic here, imo.
The argument that replays are more common or more pricey in today's market is silly imo. For one, AABs were made for one particular sub-market--states in which winning replays was illegal. So of course production numbers for replay games was greater. And, ON LOCATION, people would rather win a free game than extra balls. (We all know that you could sell the credits you earned if you didn't want to play them; not possible with an AAB game.) But in a home game? Seriously, winning an extra game means nothing. The next game is free anyway, and you aren't selling the credits you earned.
Yep, replay versions are better for competition, because the number of balls is fixed (apart from an EB or 2). But most EMs used in competition are multiplayer games. Here we are comparing 2 versions of a single-player game. And for home use. AAB gives you a chance to get real high scores based on your ability to extend your game--it's open-ended. Replay games give you a chance to reach a pre-set score (which you can also do to earn an EB in an AAB game) or light a Special (again, also in an AAB game) but in a replay the special doesn't affect your score. In an AAB it does.
Pricing is not really a good gauge here. For starters, the EM market is pretty thin relative to modern games. And if anything, AAB games tend to be more rare (smaller market required them), and are often more expensive because of rarity.
Design and rules is a real factor, I'll admit, and I don't know enough of the subtle details to compare the versions in general. If true that most games were designed as replays and that AAB was just a mod where the rules aren't as good, then yeah, those replay games may be more fun and better for home use. No argument there. AAB vs. Replay for quality of rules may depend on the particular game design. But the replay itself is meaningless (apart from nostalgia) when the game is set on free play. I have one familiar example, Gold Strike vs. El Dorado, and (apart from never resetting the ABC lights on GS) I prefer the GS gameplay over ED. My GS plays strong and clean, with lively slings, and it is NOT easy to light the WOW and add balls. It IS easy to drain 2-3 balls in a row quickly. Many games are in the 30-50k range (with experienced, ranked players). My EBs are set at 60k, 120k, 170k (and repeat at 120 and 170 when the game is rolled over again). It is uncommon to get over 200k. All time high score is 840k (by a friend who beat my all-time best of 816k). But those are the exceptions. Most games are tough, and lighting the WOW to extend a game and get 100k or 200k is a real accomplishment. The excitement of playing El Dorado is not the same IME.
I'm sure there are dissenting opinions, but these are mine. And they are based on reasoning and play experience, not nostalgic memories. Simply stated, in freeplay home use, AAB gives you a chance to extend your game, whereas replay merely lets you win meaningless credits or light meaningless specials to give you credits that don't affect your score.