(Topic ID: 30333)

Bally/Williams or Stern - What's Your Pick?


By Pintoxicated

7 years ago



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  • 63 posts
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  • Latest reply 35 days ago by phil-lee
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    Topic poll

    “If both were currently available brand new, would you buy a Stern or Bally/Williams machine NIB?”

    • Stern 44 votes
      21%
    • Bally/Williams 169 votes
      79%

    (213 votes)

    There are 63 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 7 years ago

    Imagine that Bally/Williams were still making machines in competition with Stern. Technology aside, it isn't fair to compare the two and assuming price was comparable, would you choose a Bally/Wms machine over a Stern or vice versa?

    E.G. If you had the option to buy a NIB - Medieval Madness, Twilight Zone or Attack from Mars from bally /Wms or a NIB - LOTR, Spiderman or AC/DC (Top 3 ranked machines from these manufacturers in the top 100) would you pick a Bally/Wms or Stern in relation to game play, reliability, parts/mods, re-sale value etc?

    #2 7 years ago

    depends on the game, of course. but has for quality williams WAS way better.
    now if williams would still produce nowadays, would they maintained their quality? guess we never know...

    #3 7 years ago

    Williams/Bally for sure.
    Stern sacrifices quality for profit.

    #4 7 years ago
    Quoted from Hellfire:

    Williams/Bally for sure.Stern sacrifices quality for profit.

    Keep in mind that "Profit" is why they are still here and making pins.

    #5 7 years ago

    Where is choice #3, I like pinball?

    #6 7 years ago

    If Williams were still going Stern would be out of business and people like Steve Richie wouldn't be working for stern. Out of all the machines stern made only 2 or 3 I like most feel like plastic. Xmen is like flipping a ball through toys r us. They do not have the same feel as the 1990 chain. Was it sega Stern bought out for the copyright and patents? Sterns best pinballs so far Spiderman Iron man Lords of the rings is ok and ACDC not played so no comment. Although I wish them all the best its all we have in mass production at the moment and I hope they do well.

    #7 7 years ago

    If you choose, you lose.

    -1
    #8 7 years ago

    stern all the way (tron,im,sm etc faster, smoother, less clunky.) they make the rest feel obsolete. it's like choosing a newer car vs 1990's car. it's a no brainer for me.

    #9 7 years ago
    Quoted from Hellfire:

    Williams/Bally for sure.
    Stern sacrifices quality for profit.

    WMS/Bally machine had issues just like the new Sterns. I remember ops pulling new games right out of the box and the machines wouldn't even power up. It would take the op and hour or so to go over the entire machine to get it working correctly. I guess WMS/Bally never had service bulletins either because their design and quality was so high. I even hear that the playfield wood was magical because it never dimpled. These posts are funny.

    #10 7 years ago

    Niether, I would choose Gottlieb!

    #11 7 years ago

    Bally/Williams is crushing Stern 86% to 14%.

    #12 7 years ago

    A Bally/Williams game just seems like a more quality built game when you are playing one compared to a Stern.

    #13 7 years ago

    I bet if some old timers chime in here (those that used to buy B/W new in box), they will say those Williams had just as many issues. Plus with the current economy, does anyone really think B/W would have the same quality built games that they did in the early/mid 90's? (which wasn't exactly awesome back then either)..... I don't think so

    #14 7 years ago
    Quoted from Max_Badazz:

    I bet if some old timers chime in here (those that used to buy B/W new in box), they will say those Williams had just as many issues. Plus with the current economy, does anyone really think B/W would have the same quality built games that they did in the early/mid 90's? (which wasn't exactly awesome back then either)..... I don't think so

    what he said

    #15 7 years ago

    I don't discriminate based on manufacturer no more because for the longest time I swore after getting my TSPP and trading it away for 2 B/W games that never again. I use to hate how clunky the flippers felt on it compared to my B/W games and the humming while cradling the ball just sounded wrong to me. The truth of the matter is I didn't know what the heck I was doing in the game so couldn't enjoy it. I was relatively new in the hobby then and didn't know if I liked stop and go or a game with more flow. Also being new to the hobby I think the lure of being able to roll one game into two was more appealing to me and I still don't regret my decision as I still have my really nice I500 and got to own a realize what a fast game JM is for a short period of time.

    I use to write off and walk right by a LOTR every time I would have a chance to play it at a friend's place only because every time someone brought up how great or deep of a game TSPP is LOTR would always follow in the same paragraph so just assumed I would hate it as much. Fast forward to a year later I played a LOTR in a throw down and had some of the rules explained to me and I was blown away! Now I have a LOTR and just last week I brought home another TSPP because a nice example came up and thought I would give it another chance as my perspective and strategy on playing has changed. Morale here is don't judge by manufacturer or even designer because many times when people come over and play my Congo for the first time right afterwards they ask who the hell designed this?

    If push really came to shove... Zizzle FTW

    #16 7 years ago

    I hate to choose too, but between those choices WMS all the way!

    #17 7 years ago

    No contest... Williams/Bally all day long. The simple fact is that on location, my Williams/Bally pins are still out earning my newer Stern ones.

    #18 7 years ago
    Quoted from Max_Badazz:

    I bet if some old timers chime in here (those that used to buy B/W new in box), they will say those Williams had just as many issues. Plus with the current economy, does anyone really think B/W would have the same quality built games that they did in the early/mid 90's? (which wasn't exactly awesome back then either)..... I don't think so

    Looks like JJP doesn't have that problem.

    #19 7 years ago

    B/W by a wide margin for me, but it has much more to do with creativity of designs than out of the box quality.

    #20 7 years ago

    Stern is putting out some GREAT playing pins......but the QC is still not up to 90's W/B machines IMHO.

    The Williams / Bally's just seem like tanks in comparison.

    #21 7 years ago

    The Sterns definitely have a different "feel". Having said that, I've played some newer B/W games that if I were playing blindfolded, I would have sworn they were Data East games.

    #22 7 years ago
    Quoted from Dewey68:

    The Sterns definitely have a different "feel". Having said that, I've played some newer B/W games that if I were playing blindfolded, I would have sworn they were Data East games.

    What "newer" B/W games are you talking about?

    #23 7 years ago
    Quoted from Astropin:

    Stern is putting out some GREAT playing pins......but the QC is still not up to 90's W/B machines IMHO.

    New Sterns are way better quality than the old B/Ws.

    Back in the day, we could never just open a box on location and deploy new games. Something was always wrong with them. Wrong coils installed, switches shorting out flasher circuits, bad CPU boards right out of the box, missing rubbers, paper thin ramps that would crack in a week.

    You guys don't know how good you have it nowadays.

    #25 7 years ago
    Quoted from PEN:

    What "newer" B/W games are you talking about?

    Hmmm.....DM for one...probably a few others that I played at Expo that I don't remember. It could have everything to do with the state of the flippers too. I played most of my pinball in the System 11 and early WPC days.

    #26 7 years ago

    I own both, and would suspect I would buy either (depending on theme and PF features/gameplay) if WMS was still in business.

    #27 7 years ago
    Quoted from jackofdiamonds:

    Bally/Williams is crushing Stern 86% to 14%.

    Actually (slot machines aside), Stern is currently crushing WMS in pinball manufacturing as WMS bailed on making pins.

    #28 7 years ago

    You really cannot make a fair comparision between two companies with NIB machines as where one company is still making them and the other is long gone. I'm sure as some state todays new Sterns are better, well maybe so however lets be fair were the Sterns of the same time frame just as good as the Williams/Bally units? I'm sure they had their issues as well. So to say Sterns is way better because of issues W/B had over a decade ago is an unfair comparision when they have 12 more years of advancements on their side and what would Williams/Bally quailty if it were still here today? No one can know for sure.

    I'd still take a 20 year old loose W/B machine over any new Stern unit. There is a quality feel difference, to me anyway.

    Let's go a step further: Would Sterns even exist today in the pinball industry if Williams/Bally were still around making machines? There's a thought.

    #29 7 years ago

    I used to be B/W all the way. But today I have no B/W and four Stern pins.

    Honestly, I feel no difference in quality in the machines I've had between the two manufacturers. They are both good. Flippers feel good. I don't operate them so earnings aren't an issue. Fun look and feel to all of them. Maintenance on my Sterns has been very minimal. The B/W pins had more issues as they were older. But that is to be expected.

    Stern still makes pins so I gotta support that.

    If they were both making new ones today, I wonder would the B/Ws be "stripped down" compared to their 1990s models so they could continue to be profitable or would they have raised prices? Who knows?

    #30 7 years ago

    If you want games on route to earn then both or whatever earns the best for initial purchase. For working on them like moving and set-up the Stern / Data East one bolt back box is hard to beat. The SAM board set is also great for ROM updates and none of mine have crapped out. The Bally / Williams games still have a different flipper feel but the latest Sterns are pretty damn good IMHO.

    Williams coil stops and bushings are cheaper but I have replaced very few Stern parts.

    #31 7 years ago

    People seem to forget, Bally williams sacrificed quality for profit many times, and had tons of quality control problems with games out of the box.. then again most of the naysayers werent even around when the games were available new.

    I would take a new Stern any day.

    #32 7 years ago

    All hyperbole. B/W isn't making games, Stern is.

    Nuff said.

    #33 7 years ago
    Quoted from Max_Badazz:

    I bet if some old timers chime in here (those that used to buy B/W new in box), they will say those Williams had just as many issues.

    Actually, most old timers will freely admit that Stern's quality control is improved at least tenfold over where B/W was with their titles. From multiple people that I've talked with that were buying games at the time, and experiences myself working on some of them, it basically went like this...

    Gottlieb games were guilt like tanks, but didn't really earn much of anything. They basically never broke down though, and when they did they were a breeze to fix.

    B/W titles earned really solidly, but suffered from some breakdowns. The breakdowns were tolerable though because they generally earned well enough in the times they were not broke down to make up for it.

    DE titles earned really well, in fact many times they earned better than B/W titles... but especially out of the box they suffered through tons of issues that meant that they didn't last on route for too long. They had breakdowns relatively often, and they were relatively serious.

    All of the above seem more reliable today then Stern machines because when you buy them you are either buying a game that is known for having sat for a long time, so duh it's going to have issues, or you're buying a game that someone already tweaked the heck out of and updated everything on. You're not getting a game right out of the box, so the perception is that they work better... but that really isn't the case.

    Stern machines hold up better in the long run than any of the games before whether you like it or not. The question is if they attract enough players to warrant their purchase price - essentially, we're now 10+ years past when B/W closed their doors, the default price to pay is still essentially unchanged by most ops (and I've even heard fans complain that if pins are set at 75 cents a play, they won't drop coin on them -- but they'll pay $6000+ for the latest LE), and the machine price has risen significantly.

    Quoted from Benepinballs:

    People seem to forget, Bally williams sacrificed quality for profit many times, and had tons of quality control problems with games out of the box.. then again most of the naysayers werent even around when the games were available new.

    Agreed. It's the nature of the business. It wasn't like B/W was putting the kitchen sink in their games every time out. And, a lot of the games where people start complaining about so-called cost cutting by Sega are some of the most incredibly dense playfields that are out there. Look at the playfield for Batman Forever, Baywatch or Viper: Night Drivin', and then compare to a game like AFM which was cost reduced. History shows us which one is more popular with collectors now, but it has little to do with the amount of stuff put in it.

    The original question is basically impossible. If I was operating in today's market, knowing what I do about everything, I'd really have to know the titles before I took the plunge on anything. Of the most recent stuff, I think I would've bit the bullet for an X-Men LE and then planned on selling it in a couple years. Maybe an ACDC LE of some sort too. Would B/W have been coming up with titles that hold their value so well? Who knows - but based on Stern's recent track record, I would have taken my chances with what I've seen there.

    #34 7 years ago

    Sterns. For some reason, I have been selling my B/Ws.

    #35 7 years ago

    The survey should offer Bally, Williams, Stern Electronics and Gottlieb.

    Back when Pinball was king, I would go for Bally as they were the most dependable games when combined with game play. Williams had the fastest games with the best sounds but their quality, which translates into long term durability was a distant second to Bally. Gottlieb early Solid State games were the most reliable along with the mechanical components of the game and build quality. Only negative was the slow game play seemed antiquated compared to a Williams and Bally and even <choke> Stern pins of that era. Speaking of Stern from that era; complete garbage as far as build quality and durability. The steel playfield components on Meteor was junk. I admit, Meteor earned big when released. We had a helluva time keeping them running on the route. Flipper base plates were scarce as were drop target parts. Stern was CONcentrating on new game sales, not service parts. We bought a third truck load (15 pins per truckload) of Meteor's from Cleveland COiN. We kept four new machines in our shop as parts mules for the 40 or so Meteor's we had on the route.

    I admit, those Meteor's made us lots of money when first placed. The money collectors had to empty them twice a week as the cash boxes were filling up. The first batch of machines were significantly lower priced than the competitor's games. Then Stern jacked up the price. Then the games started breaking down. Fortunately, they were paid for.

    I drove that third truck during the gas shortage of that era, $4.00 limit on gas at the Sohio stations on the James W. Shocknessy Ohio Turnpike. Had to stop at each plaza to buy gas. It was a large box truck.

    Now, if we are comparing pins from that era with Stern Pinball of today, Play a Family Guy or AC/DC and compare it with Cactus Canyon or MM, there is no comparison, Stern Pinball all the way.

    #36 7 years ago

    A side note getting a NIB game back in the Williams heyday you had to have a connection with Betson or someone connected to "get" you a game. I saw very few if any NIB games being dragged to anyone's house. The closest I came to a NIB game was at an Aladdin's Castle arcade when they got a brand new TOM in and I waited for them to set it up and be the 1st one to play it. It was the only new Bally / Williams game I have ever played.

    Stern games on the other hand are available from multiple sources and I have purchased 2 NIB Sterns thus far and a TSPP that had 93 plays on it just out of the box. Stern makes a solid game.

    #37 7 years ago
    Quoted from SealClubber:

    Sterns. For some reason, I have been selling my B/Ws.

    At various stages of my collection, I have had

    1) an almost even 50/50 split of B/W and Sterns;

    2) almost all B/W's

    3) almost all Sterns

    About the only generalization that I'd make is that I do tend to prefer some of the themes on B/W pins vs Stern pins......but as we know, there are always exceptions to these generalizations and some Sterns have great themes (LOTR, SM, Tron, AC/DC).

    #38 7 years ago

    Played a lot of B/W and Stern. They have both their advantages. Generally however i prefer Stern as they somehow feel more dynamic and give you quicker an adreline rush. B/W have a lot of nice games but this dynamic feeling is mostly just less. And yes, there are a lot of stern titles which i dont like but that is the same with b/w

    And as Stern has shown with ACDC, their pinball rocks

    #39 7 years ago
    Quoted from DeathHimself:

    Let's go a step further: Would Sterns even exist today in the pinball industry if Williams/Bally were still around making machines? There's a thought.

    I think so.... many hate the Pin2K platform, which is what Williams was moving to.

    #40 7 years ago

    Max_Badazz said

    I bet if some old timers chime in here (those that used to buy B/W new in box), they will say those Williams had just as many issues. Plus with the current economy, does anyone really think B/W would have the same quality built games that they did in the early/mid 90's? (which wasn't exactly awesome back then either)..... I don't think so

    Quoted from jackofdiamonds:

    Looks like JJP doesn't have that problem.

    Lets wait and see what people think after they produce 3-5 pins (if they get there, and I hope they do that and much much more) before we say that.

    #41 7 years ago
    Quoted from DeathHimself:

    Let's go a step further: Would Sterns even exist today in the pinball industry if Williams/Bally were still around making machines? There's a thought.

    If they were competitive, yes. It would be a completely different market if you had both companies were in business and competing. It would be a completely different market. Either both would be fighting for licenses, or struggling to get out their own unique designs out.

    #42 7 years ago

    I love my X-men and LOTR. I love my STTNG. Brand fanaticism is stupid.

    #43 7 years ago

    I went from tons of Gottlibs which i still have to, a whole pile of B/W's, then added some Segas, and then onto sterns...

    most all of the B/w's are gone...

    1 Sega to stay forever, (Goldeneye), and only 4 B/W's that i want around...

    Have DH, JM, want Shadow, and another TZ on of these days..

    and bring on the Sterns, i will take more....

    #44 7 years ago

    sweet, I chose with the popular vote

    #45 7 years ago
    Quoted from alchy999:

    If Williams were still going Stern would be out of business and people like Steve Richie wouldn't be working for stern. Out of all the machines stern made only 2 or 3 I like most feel like plastic. Xmen is like flipping a ball through toys r us. They do not have the same feel as the 1990 chain. Was it sega Stern bought out for the copyright and patents? Sterns best pinballs so far spiderman Iron Man Lords of the rings is ok and ACDC not played so no comment. Although I wish them all the best its all we have in mass production at the moment and I hope they do well.

    Would be interesting to see what Stern would be pumping out if SR & GG were still at Williams making games. Borg has had a good run of games lately so maybe it wouldn't be as lopsided as it used to be.

    #46 7 years ago

    I have to say this poll has been pretty refreshing. I was thinking the majority of pinsiders were Stern fanboys who thought B/W games were tired old boxes of boring. I like games from all makers, but generally feel B/W had the better total package of theme, art, design, quality and gameplay. That's not to say games like SM and LOTR don't crush games like Gilligans Island or Popeye.

    #47 7 years ago

    Williams all the way baby

    #48 7 years ago
    Quoted from vtec16:

    I bet if some old timers chime in here (those that used to buy B/W new in box), they will say those Williams had just as many issues.

    We've already cited that a few times, and in fact the general consensus is that B/W games had far *more* issues than Stern games do.

    #49 7 years ago
    Quoted from goatdan:

    We've already cited that a few times, and in fact the general consensus is that B/W games had far *more* issues than Stern games do.

    Probably had to do with they "toys" on those older BWM's games being much more complex then what you see put out be Stern today. SM is one of my favorite all time games but there really isnt anything to complex about the features on it. Probably the main reason ive never had to do anything but clean it & re-rubber it.

    #50 7 years ago
    Quoted from dgpinball:

    B/W by a wide margin for me, but it has much more to do with creativity of designs than out of the box quality.

    Yes!

    Quoted from paul_8788:

    Brand fanaticism is stupid.

    brand 'preference' is NOT stupid

    Quoted from Dewey68:

    The Sterns definitely have a different "feel". Having said that, I've played some newer B/W games that if I were playing blindfolded, I would have sworn they were Data East games.

    I know exactly what you mean. games like W?D, CP, JY, kind of have a 'Stern-ish' feel to them. Not sure why, maybe cost cutting in WMS end of the road?

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