(Topic ID: 215872)

Has Stern succeeded or still second fiddle to Williams and the WPC era


By shacklersrevenge

1 year ago



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  • 93 posts
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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by
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    Topic poll

    “Has Stern succeeded Williams/Bally WPC era of pins?”

    • Yes! 57 votes
      18%
    • No! 60 votes
      19%
    • Not even close to WPC 91 votes
      29%
    • Stern is now way above and beyond 26 votes
      8%
    • They both have great games, too close to say. 77 votes
      25%

    (311 votes)

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    There are 93 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 1 year ago

    The WPC era was filled with some beloved gems and all around great games, They pumped out a ton in a short span of what, 8 years or so? but has Stern succeeded them?
    When I think WPC, I think TAF, TZ, AFM, STTNG, CC, MB, MM- Big shoes to fill, and when I think Stern I think SM, LOTR, Tron, TSPP, AC/DC, POTC, X-MEN- all equally or beyond imo.

    I'm going to say they've succeeded, what's your vote? WPC is still incredible over 20 years later, something about that platform and build quality was magic.

    Edit: Just to make this clear, I do not think Stern succeeded in build quality, WPC has that over Stern, especially in the last 5 years. I meant more of gameplay and designs.

    #2 1 year ago

    I notice you don't mention any Sterns that have been released in the last few years when you are trying to find examples of their best work.

    #3 1 year ago

    WPC is still my favorite. So many great games.

    #4 1 year ago
    Quoted from neurokinetik:

    I notice you don't mention any Sterns that have been released in the last few years when you are trying to find examples of their best work.

    And yet he put X-Men and POTC in the list...

    15
    #5 1 year ago

    Every time they seem to be drawing closer they pull some new cost cutting exercise out of left field that negatively effects the basic ingredients of a high quality end product and lose ground.

    31
    #6 1 year ago

    Stern was on the right path to matching WPC games in terms of quality of components but during the past 3 years we've seen prices rise and quality go down. Cabinets are made cheaper, heads of Stern games are no longer made out of wood, lockdown bar mechs are gone in favor of clamps, and games are more difficult to service thanks to the use of node boards. Hell, it's not even as easy to turn the latest games on due to the location of the power button...

    I love Stern games and happen to own two of their latest games but the quality of materials they use and the way their games are put together has gone down over the past 3 years.

    JJP is the only company in my opinion that has exceeded WPC era quality, Dialed In is proof of that.

    If Stern wants to exceed WPC quality they should start by making their cabinets out of actual plywood (not filler), and put the power button in the traditional location.

    Dialed In cabinet, this is how you match / exceed WPC era quality. Oh, and the power button is actually on the bottom of the cabinet for easy access, lol.

    20180425_194915 (resized).jpg

    #7 1 year ago

    No. Yes they’ve had many good games. Some great, but they’ve had a bunch of turds too. I don’t know if the WPC era you’re talking about will ever be passed. They did succeed in keeping pinball alive tho.

    #8 1 year ago
    Quoted from neurokinetik:

    I notice you don't mention any Sterns that have been released in the last few years when you are trying to find examples of their best work.

    I could! I just pulled games off the top of my head. I wouldn't say a game like Avengers is their finest hour (though I like it personally) Elvis is really good for an older game in their lineup that is often forgotten.

    Newer stuff, I would say TWD, MET, Star Trek, and probably Maiden now, but I have yet to play it.

    #9 1 year ago
    Quoted from PanzerFreak:

    and put the power button in the traditional location.
    Dialed In cabinet, this is how you match / exceed WPC era quality. Oh, and the power button is actually on the botton of the cabinet for easy access, lol.

    The power button has nothing to do with "exceeding" Williams. It's totally a matter of opinion.

    I happen to like the button where it is now.

    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from T-800:

    And yet he put X-Men and POTC in the list...

    Both great games, I like either of them as much as any WPC.

    #11 1 year ago

    I like em both. Don't really feel compelled to compare "brands". Williams made some great/fun games and some stinkers too - just like Stern. However, identifying which ones are stinkers and which ones are fun is a metter of taste and thank goodness we are all different.

    I still like the feel of Bally/Williams flippers best though.

    #12 1 year ago

    I like X-Men more than any WPC. Going on 6 years in my small collection.

    Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

    Both great games, I like either of them as much as any WPC.

    #13 1 year ago

    I would like to ask this question of someone born in the 90's who has no early memories of the WPC games. Would they also love the classics or are we just wearing nostalgia colored glasses?

    #14 1 year ago

    Played TSPP and GOTG yesterday for the first time and both were fun. GOTG had LED screen and more but somehow TSPP had way more magic to me with a cohesive package including original music and voices etc. Just had more pinball soul somehow - it's not just about more and more stuff, it's about how It all comes together. WPC had this in spades.

    So my point is that even comparing Stern vs Stern I would say they are not necessarily getting better and better over time. And your list of Stern successes backs that up - mostly their older games.

    10
    #15 1 year ago

    Build quality - no.

    Humor - no.

    Code ( when completed ) and sheer addictiveness - yes.

    #16 1 year ago

    for the code/software ----stern wins

    for durability and solid gameplay feel ----williams wins

    36
    #17 1 year ago

    I called Williams. No answer.

    I called Stern, they answered.

    Stern succeeded. They kept open when Williams didn't. And kept open in the worst decade of coin op ever.

    LTG : )

    #18 1 year ago

    Only CGC has directly exceeded WPC. Upgraded technology and features to the original games. I know some prefer the original, but it is upgraded in my opinion. Plywood bottoms, LCDs, big LCDs, colored dot emulation, toppers, more to come.

    #19 1 year ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    I called Williams. No answer.
    I called Stern, they answered.
    Stern succeeded. They kept open when Williams didn't. And kept open in the worst decade of coin op ever.
    LTG : )

    If Gomez, or Sullivan, or Eddy or Ritchie or Sheats.....answered when you called Stern, then Williams heartbeat is still there I say.

    10
    #20 1 year ago

    They haven't matched the voice acting for the pins like williams did.

    #21 1 year ago

    Stern is making some great games, but nothing beats the feel of the classic DMD era B/W's; they are simply the best.

    #22 1 year ago

    I miss the running jokes across games and the humor and voice acting the most. That and the subways, man I miss subways.

    #23 1 year ago

    inovation
    at least BW would try something different
    stern just makes games with low BOM

    #24 1 year ago

    I love playing Stern games but the humor and callouts from the 90’s Williams games is special.

    #25 1 year ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    I called Williams. No answer.
    I called Stern, they answered.
    Stern succeeded. They kept open when Williams didn't. And kept open in the worst decade of coin op ever.
    LTG : )

    Good points, and barely. I heard that Automated Services placed an order for 75 SM back around 2007 that ''kept the lights on'', the rest is history.

    #26 1 year ago

    I have 3 Stern games: ACDC LE,Metallica LE and Star Wars Prem. I will get an Iron Maiden game. I don't know any other game I would trade with any of these STERNS or I would have done it long ago. People have different tastes in games. I don't have a problem with this. But when I play games like MM, TZ or any other Bally/Williams I never have the feeling that I would give one of my STERNS to trade them. For me these new games have the better gameplay and it is a thrill to play them. I can't stop playing Star Wars it is a rush to go into the death star and to blow it up. Then I am almost a little boy again and there is nothing more important than the game I play. It's an escape from the reality.

    But on the other side, I grew up with Pinball games. I grew up in the pub of my granddad and we always had a pinball game there. And as I was a little child pinball games had a magic to them that no matter what STERN does now can never be the same for me. And neither can the old games bring this back. It had nothing to do with the gameplay, cause as a child I was to bad to hold the ball long enough in the game or to understand the rules. But I still remember how many hours I stood before the old Lost World pinball machine with the demon/warrior and the beautiful blond woman almost naked with big breasts and her dragon. And with all the lights this world under glass came to life. Games were art for me, they were a fantasy escape, Narnia! With dragons, hockey players, fast cars and half naked woman. STERN or JJP can never succeed in this way, cause they can't make me young again. But they can give me something that reminds me of these days when I was young. And with all these new technics like LED GI lights, better sound, LCD and gameplay like on Iron Maiden or SW they can do this better than the old games do it now for me, so in some other way they realy have succeeded.

    #27 1 year ago
    Quoted from westofrome:

    That and the subways, man I miss subways.

    Play Metallica if you need more subway in your life.

    #28 1 year ago
    Quoted from PopBumperPete:

    stern just makes games with low BOM

    Yeah, nothing like AFM when Williams put every possible feature into their games.

    #29 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Yeah, nothing like AFM when Williams put every possible feature into their games.

    I think LOTR matches the every possible feature that AFM has.

    #30 1 year ago
    Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

    I think LOTR matches the every possible feature that AFM has.

    AFM has practically no features.

    It probably has the lowest BOM of any game in the last 30 years.

    One big empty playfield. No toys that the ball actually touches.

    #31 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Yeah, nothing like AFM when Williams put every possible feature into their games.

    Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

    I think LOTR matches the every possible feature that AFM has.

    //sarcasm

    #32 1 year ago

    No operator, senior technician, or long time collector has the belief that Stern has ever superseded BLY/WMS in terms of overall quality of games, including material or construction. All one has to do is ask people directly in the industry, not enthusiasts, and they will share their experience. Stern as a company has done what is needed for survival, sometimes thrive, but rarely innovate even in periods of mutual cooperation. The rare oversight by many in history that there were plans to close the company doors not in 2007, but 2009, approximately two years after SM. This is not to overlook, Stern has had a few "shining star" titles such as TSPP, LOTR, SM, and even RBION in the early 2000s. TSPP is the closest that Stern has come to matching the quality, features, and effort of WMS games comparative to the period directly mentioned.

    #33 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Yeah, nothing like AFM when Williams put every possible feature into their games.

    but it does have humor

    TNA, no toys at all, but innovative

    #34 1 year ago

    what is BOM?

    #35 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    AFM has practically no features.
    It probably has the lowest BOM of any game in the last 30 years.
    One big empty playfield. No toys that the ball actually touches.

    Features or toys, there are different things. I'm thinking diverters, 3 bank down wall, ship that moves, jumping martians, video mode, etc on AFM. LOTR has diverters, falling tower, balrog, the jump ramp/ring, etc. That's what I was thinking in comparison.

    #36 1 year ago

    Bill Of Materials
    how much it cost a company to build a game

    #37 1 year ago

    Every real operator (you know companies that routed 100s of games as a full time job, not hobby operators) remembers how crappy Williams were built.

    Paper thin ramps, magnets that would chew holes right through the wood of the playfield, GI connectors that were so under-speced they would literally melt, translights instead of backglasses, fiberboard cab bottoms that thieves would just tear through, cloudy diamondplate clear that would wear through in a few years, shallow code...it's almost like the games were only expected to last 3 years.

    #38 1 year ago

    The contradiction to the above statement is people should then ask themselves is why do BLY/WMS games continue to be successfully operated 25+ years later (or much more), continually requested by operators (and certainly collectors), when many Stern WhiteStar games have been dismantled or parted out that are over 15 years younger minimum?

    Even System 11A/B/C games remain viable. Games such as Banzai Run are still considered design masterpieces, even if the original parts and components today are hard to come by in replacement, until aftermarket was available. The same can be said for other titles such as SafeCracker in the WPC 95 period, although it sold extremely poorly at the time introduced. I stand by personal my experience, and the many operators, technicians, distributors, and parts manufacturers that I speak to regularly. All operators have to take some measure of risk regarding new technology, but certain old technology remains the most viable for maintaining the "RSD" of pinball, although not the true money maker in the amusement industry today. EPROM code limitations are not a design fault, that was a improvement on the same aspects of technology I just described.

    I am not an operator, I have not done that in physical decades, and I never really enjoyed that aspect either.
    Nor am I a pure hobbyist, enthusiast, or collector, but do have a role as a historian.
    Presently, I am a technician for one of the largest vending, pinball, jukebox, megatouch, ATM, and amusement operators along the Pacific Northwest.

    No pinball machine was designed to last forever, but with regular maintenance and care BLY/WMS games can and will outlive most modern Stern games, not exclusive to electronics alone.

    #39 1 year ago

    Tough question...

    #40 1 year ago
    Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

    No operator, senior technician, or long time collector has the belief that Stern has ever superseded BLY/WMS in terms of overall quality of games, including material or construction. All one has to do is ask people directly in the industry, not enthusiasts, and they will share their experience. Stern as a company has done what is needed for survival, sometimes thrive, but rarely innovate even in periods of mutual cooperation. The rare oversight by many in history that there were plans to close the company doors not in 2007, but 2009, approximately two years after SM. This is not to overlook, Stern has had a few "shining star" titles such as TSPP, LOTR, SM, and even RBION in the early 2000s. TSPP is the closest that Stern has come to matching the quality, features, and effort of WMS games comparative to the period directly mentioned.

    What gives you the right to speak for every operator, technician, and collector? As a long time collector and operator I can state for the record that you are flat out wrong. The community looks at the classic Bally Williams game through rose colored glasses. They also had a lot of turds which gets lost in an opinion poll. New Sterns are fun and super reliable on location and have substantially fewer issues out of the box than the Bally Williams games had when they were new. So why not just enjoy the best of both worlds with several new Sterns and an MM and AFM remake to boot. These are the good old days people, just enjoy.

    #41 1 year ago

    The partial reason operators had "issues" was based on the dramatic continued increase in complexity design of games especially from 1988-1998. This was actually the request of operators and players together. Stern starting from 2004 went backwards for simplification as this aspect particularly to simply mechanical design, which was their company mantra starting all the way back in 2001. Hence, stating that Stern games ability to provide complex potential innovation was decreased, thereby reducing problems (and BoM costs) although there was significantly less operators were around to report issues anyway.

    I can state that I am no stranger to any type of game made since 1960, all the way up to 2018 from many manufacturers.
    If other operators believe that Stern games are better designed, with incredible "new" features, and better made than BLY/WMS (or even GTB), use what you want, but more likely what can be afforded. Anything beyond these points presented or explained at this point would be improperly perceived on these forums, and I have more restorations and repairs to finish.

    Just read my book after publication, if someone wants to understand more regarding pinball history and game design, their development, and a detailed analysis of the core fundamentals of the RSD of pinball and other types of amusements. The history is not a straight line.

    circular-logic-600x462 (resized).jpg

    #42 1 year ago

    Based on where this thread seems to be heading I think this:

    The Last Boyscout - best movie one liners ever.

    #43 1 year ago

    Oh my god, can you imagine that page turner? Don’t you mean a 14-volume set?

    #44 1 year ago
    Quoted from jwilson:

    Oh my god, can you imagine that page turner? Don’t you mean a 14-volume set?

    #45 1 year ago

    Its all about the knockers and Sterns inability to win a wet t-shirt contest. Everything else is just for flava.

    #46 1 year ago
    Quoted from Pinballmike217:

    What gives you the right to speak for every operator, technician, and collector? As a long time collector and operator I can state for the record that you are flat out wrong. The community looks at the classic Bally Williams game through rose colored glasses. They also had a lot of turds which gets lost in an opinion poll. New Sterns are fun and super reliable on location and have substantially fewer issues out of the box than the Bally Williams games had when they were new. So why not just enjoy the best of both worlds with several new Sterns and an MM and AFM remake to boot. These are the good old days people, just enjoy.

    The remakes and new Stern technology is great, but the elephant in the room is, what does the future hold for support down the road? How easy will those micro part pcbs be to change out and fix, and at what cost? Nobody knows exactly the shelf life of these beyond right now. Will it become as simple as the support for Early Bally SS with the likes of Rottendog or Alltek 30 years later? I would be surprised if so.

    The great thing about WPC is that there is a wealth of information, and any weak points in their designs are well documented. One can easily stock WPC parts and repair the gremlins/problems with ease. This is not the case with newer Stern or remakes.

    #47 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Every real operator (you know companies that routed 100s of games as a full time job, not hobby operators) remembers how crappy Williams were built.

    Steve Ritchie admitted this in that interview with Mark Schneider.

    "Steve, ya gotta take 100 bucks outta the game", or some other equally ridiculous amount. My thought would always be, OK, why don't we just throw it in the trash right now! We were also instructed that the primary goal of the company was to maximize profits. He would have us repeat it out loud. It is a true and correct goal, but at what expense? Quality of play? Durability? Our Quality Assurance and Quality Control departments were industry-wide jokes, and we made the BEST quality games of anyone during most periods of modern pinball history!

    It’s easy to look into the past with rose tinted nostalgia glasses.

    #48 1 year ago
    Quoted from shacklersrevenge:

    The WPC era was filled with some beloved gems and all around great games, They pumped out a ton in a short span of what, 8 years or so? but has Stern succeeded them?
    When I think WPC, I think TAF, TZ, AFM, STTNG, CC, MB, MM- Big shoes to fill, and when I think Stern I think SM, LOTR, Tron, TSPP, AC/DC, POTC, X-MEN- all equally or beyond imo.
    I'm going to say they've succeeded, what's your vote? WPC is still incredible over 20 years later, something about that platform and build quality was magic.
    Edit: Just to make this clear, I do not think Stern succeeded in build quality, WPC has that over Stern, especially in the last 5 years. I meant more of gameplay and designs.

    Not sure. I just know one is still making new Pinballs and the other is not.

    #49 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    AFM has practically no features.
    It probably has the lowest BOM of any game in the last 30 years.
    One big empty playfield. No toys that the ball actually touches.

    Iron Maiden doesn't have any toys. At least AFM has a interactive saucer and aliens.

    #50 1 year ago
    Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

    The contradiction to the above statement is people should then ask themselves is why do BLY/WMS games continue to be successfully operated 25+ years later

    Eh, not really.

    There are some tiny market pockets, where some WMS pins are quasi-operated.

    They might operate in a Barcade, as long as there are $10 craft beers to subsidize their existence.

    They might operate in an existing arcade alongside some pool tables, Galaga Assault and Hoop-Shoot-Manias.

    (and those games were paid off 30 years ago - remember we are talking about Real operators).

    But for 99% of the cities in America, you could not route a WMS pin as a real business.

    -
    Now before you start typing your witty response, let's look at a very real example of the above:

    1. The average small business loan is $100,000.

    2. A new WMS game MMr, AFMr or TOMr is $8,000

    3. So you could get 12 WMS games with the average small business loan.

    4. What business plan would you give the loan officer to show how you will pay back that loan in 5 years?

    There is not a loan officer in the world who would say "Wow, that is a great business plan! You really got something there."

    You could probably not even afford the interest part of the loan, let alone the insurance, an employee, maintenance, trunks for TOMr, a van, gas to drive all over town, taxes, SS taxes, health insurance, web site, licenses for each game, cut for the landlord, decent salary for yourself......

    You could not really run a real, money making route, could you?

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