Quoted from someoneelse:
When the ball really took up speed - around the era of BK2000 - clear coat became very necessary. PFs on modern games wouldn't last even close to 5 years on route without clear.
Games only require clearcoated PFs if they are not regularly maintenanced, due to lazy operators.
This includes the basic fundamentals such as wiping playfields and replacing balls, not just emptying coinboxes. You do not even need to wax a playfield every time when serviced, just keep it clean. No home use game "needs" clearcoat, and it would solve a lot of problems as as long as quality ink screening processes are used.
There are plenty of games that were equally fast in the mid 80s without automotive clearcoat that used lacquer. If you add up all the games that use a "Tuff Coat" lacquer from the 60s and 70s with hundreds of thousands of plays, they are not all worn down to bare wood, if you substitute number of additional plays against reduced "pure speed" reduced plays.
This is yet ANOTHER inaccurate pinball myth.
Manufacturers did castrate themselves.
They did not "invent" clearcoat due to faster game designs requirements.
Clearcoat, "diamond plate", or other similiar named processes were designed to make operators lives "easier" (ie lazy) especially in hard to reach designs, not provide pretty playfields to private owners. It could be considered an attempt at "innovation" in some ways. This can be referenced in many manufacturer advertisements for sales, if the response is "prove it". This is side effect today of the modern market catered to new owners asking for thicker clear coats, which has consequences such as adhesion problems and chipping, all of which has been seen in the past. If it was not for a few people left in the industry that are also hobbyists and historians, people would be making up even larger sources of crazy ideas of why things happen.
Manufacturers tried other playfield methods none of which were major jumps forward in durability including plastic playfields, not just mylar.
It is like saying games MUST have protectors everywhere in a home environment, which in many cases is extreme overkill. Generally a title only had a few potential trouble areas based on design, such as exposed magnet cores.
Think about other areas of pinball design, not playfields. Right now we are moving backwards again in the industry to a point where we are only a few steps from cabinets being completely made from sawdust and MDF. It saves a lot money, but the durability and construction is poor. Most know what is, and we all hate it. So why is the price for a new game still significantly higher? R&D? Technology? Game design? Features? None of these aspects really are proper justifications.
For $15K, you should get at least wood cabinet, a real backglass, and a properly cure and treated wood playfield with quality ink screening, clear if opted, along with enough spare parts to keep it running for 20+ years. None of this was included.
The simpest explanation in life is usually the correct one.
"Every time the pinball industry thrives, it struggles, as it competes against its own games from the past."