I thought this was an interesting post over in RGP back in 2008 when Batman the Dark Knight was released in light of the re-theme of this game. Substitute "RGP" with "Pinside" and I would say its pretty much the same attitude from Stern for Batman66 vs BDK, aside from the obvious 180 on who Stern is selling to. Also, the feeling here that Stern is saying F-U to the collectors is not new.. and their business is booming!
I am the friend that Derek is talking about in the other thread.
I had a long phone conversation with Gary and Joe Blackwell
yesterday. I thought this deserved it's own topic so it didn't get
lost in the other thread. First of all, let me start by saying that I
respect both Gary and Joe and I thought it was incredible of them to
take an hour out of their schedule to seek me out and call me like
they did. I will not bash them here but I will be honest about the
I would not have posted this on my own but Derek has kind of
opened the door. Nothing that we spoke about was said to be a secret,
nor do I consider myself any kind of insider deserving of knowing a
secret, so I assume the conversation was open for further discussion
among my friends and fellow pinball enthusiasts. You are all my
The conversation was about the state of current code on several
games, the pinball market of today, the direction that pinball sales
are headed, and the philosophy of pleasing the largest pinball
demographic. The most important thing on my mind was the code
situation. As a collector and player of games, I consider myself an
average or better player when compared to people who play pinball
seriously and a great player compared to people who play a game or two
in a bar now and then. So, I have a reasonable chance of seeing most
if not all of what a game has to offer and I like a deep, challenging
According to Gary, aside from the code for the shaker motor,
Batman is finished at 2.0. He said everything in the game works and
the designers love it as it is. He said that Gomez thinks it is his
best game design and Lyman is happy with the code as is. We quickly
talked about Lyman's ability as a player and I said I couldn't believe
that Lyman thought it was finished being the quality player that he
is. I mentioned the skill shot not working, the mystery being
nothing, and the other obvious issues we have all discussed here.
Gary said that the only change in code from this point would be bug
fixing and that no more resources would be spent on adding code.
--SNIP-- talking about operators, euro sales etc.. --SNIP--
Gary said he doesn't read RGP. In many respects I think he looks
at us as complainers. It is a shame. How many businesses can say
they have a microcosm of their most informed customer base available
to them in real time to use as a gage, a forum, gather input, see
impact, etc. Instead of using this forum to improve product and
expand thinking it is disregarded as an abomination.
Unfortunately, it looks like Gary is determined to lead the
company into the abyss under a banner of keeping the company alive.
There was talk of redemtion games, which smacked to me of the WMS slot
division, but it was the strange view of what finished really is that
keeps ringing in my head - everything works...the crane swings, the
bridge tips, the Joker locks balls and spins = done. At one point
Gary expressed a view that when summed up in my mind was akin to
"since we are the only game in town you should learn to
I threw in a lot of personal views in here and I hope that it
didn't taint the viewpoint of the conversation I had. It was truly a
pleasure to speak to them both and, for me, was at least an attempt on
the part of Stern to address the issues we are all so upset about.
The sad part is, the views of the company are not necessarily the
views of the players and, I have to say it, isn't it all really about
the players. An expensive toy whether played in an arcade or your
basement, should be made with the player in mind. Stern has not only
forgotten that, they have made a conscious decision to look the
player in the eye and say this game is no longer made for you but for
the passerby who might drop in a few coins...maybe. At least that is
my take and it is getting more acidic all the time.
I told Gary and Joe I hope they find a way to keep making games
for years but I also hope they find a way to make the games playable.
As it stands, playability isn't their main concern. Their main
concern is does the crane swing, does the ark open, does the ship
sink. I hope the next ship they sink isn't pinball.