So in October 1999, WMS Industries decided to close down the Pinball division.
We all know the story. Pin2000 was a financial success, but it was not making as MUCH money as slot machines.
Stern, who owned a smallish percentage of the market hired some of the talent and the rest is history.
We interviewed Roger Sharpe last week, and just released the 2nd half of the interview today
Episode - http://www.head2headpinball.com/2018/10/08/episode-63-roger-sharpe-tried-to-save-pinball-twice/
Its about 1 hour and 24 minutes in if you want to skip to it.
Roger said that he tried to buy Williams Pinball division when it was closing in 1999s.
Here is a PARTIAL transcription, you can listen to it yourself to get some more context
Roger: "I will share 2 things with you that may or may not have been ever revealed by me before. 1. I came really close to buying premier when they where going out of business. Got a group of folk behind me who where willing to fund it, and unfortunately looking at the balance sheet and everything else the termination was that there was no way in heck it was going to be a good investment, so we walked away from it.
When Williams Bally shut down pinball. I absolutely approached them to see if i can buy the assets and take over the company. In that point in time there was not a desire to sell the company. If you look back historically at things, it was better to be done as a tax write off. Which is why Gene picked up bits and pieces as did Wayne. Unfortunately they didn't take my offer seriously. So I had 2 chances to potentially take over Pinball companies and effectively run them the way they could of and should of been run. But now I'm just to old to do any of those things!"
Ryan: "How different do you think your life would been if Williams took your offer up and you where able to reserict the company"
Roger: "Oh wow, Pinball would have been totally different, are you kidding? All the things that we have been talking about and that I have shared over the years, infrequently at best when people want to actually listen to me. I would have put more importantly my money where my mouth is. I would have done the things we have been talking about. I would have done outreach. I would have done new markets. I would have kept things out there and visible. Look, I will share with you that back in 1988. If you look at where the awareness" (there more here I haven't transcribed but its about how he made pinball more visable in the late 80s and early 90s)
Martin: "Gary Stern went through the hard times, would you have wanted to go through the bad to get to the good?"
Roger: "I don't think I would have ever bad. I think I would have built of the success that was already generated"
It really got me thinking about an alternative reality of Pinball. If Roger WAS able to buy Williams and retain most of the talent at Williams. We are talking Lyman, Gomez, JPOP, Keith Johnson etc.
Where would we be now in pinball? How long do you think they would have stuck with Pin2000? Do you think they would have reverted back to normal cabs?
What year do you think they would introduce LCDs? Do you think pinball would still be so license heavy?
Would Data East/Stern have survived?
Yes it's a theoretical Pinside thread, hypothesize away.