Rant mode on:
Why are some people so hung up on the swap system. If that is not your thing, then just buy complete machines instead.
Heighway is still reasonable prized. Nobody is forcing you to buy playfield kits. It's an option, and a very good option at that, for a lot of us.
If you don't care for the cabinet design, and that part of having a pinball machine is important to you, then buy another machine from a different company. It is what it is (for better or worse)
Every 3 months, the same discussions cycle back. (it wouldn't surprise me if it is the same people who keep bringing it up.)
If every company did it like Stern, with hardly any new innovations at all, we would be worse off. These new companies, with new ideas are what drives the hobby forward. They do this with a big risk to themselves. Charting the unknown and moving the hobby forward is dangerous territory. They should all be congratulated, not frowned upon!!!
The argument that if this was a smart solution, Stern would have done it long ago is silly, at best. Stern is never pioneers at anything.
Warning: Stern Rant incoming!
Would we even have LCD in Stern machines if not for these companies? No! They are all about cost cutting and squeezing as much out of customers as they can. Would we even have original cool artwork from new talent at Stern if it where not for the competition? I have my doubts.
If you don't like change,(or just small refinements added to what is a known and beloved formula) then stick with Stern and be happy. But for me, the only reason why I still buy Stern machines is because of the talent they brought to their company from Williams. That is the only difference to me, at least, from the Sega machines most of us do not care for and Stern. Just think of Stern machines without people like Steve R, George G, Lyman S, etc. And all of those talented creators have fought an uphill battle with Stern, all the way from the beginning.
But, hey, they have survived for a long time, doing it their way so that is fine, and I respect them for that.
In my view, there are mainly four factors that Stern should be very thankful for and these are the reason why they are doing so well at the moment. It all happened ca 2012
01. Those who were ca 20 years old and hung around in bars ca 1992 when machines like TAF made a big splash are now in their early 40's and are ripe and ready for nostalgia
02. The Pinball arcade App was launched. Mock it if you will, but this had a pretty huge impact on getting new people into the hobby (and old ones who had forgot how much fun pinball can be)
03. Jersey Jack
04. Stern had a Surprise big hit with their great title, Ac/Dc after rehiring Steve R. Perfect timing
Edit: I will tag along a fifth reason: 05. People not understanding that a premium = Standard and a Pro = Cost cutting, but with old standard sales prizes
You can disagree with a lot of what I have ranted about here, but if you disagree that all the new companies in the pinball industry is a good thing, (something it sounds like in some of the posts on pinside) you are out of touch with reality (in my humble opinion)