(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 2 of 2.
    #51 1 year ago
    Quoted from Allibaster:

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

    What about those junky plastic Eddies?

    033-iron-maiden (resized).jpg

    #52 1 year ago

    Nostalgia is a big part of this hobby, it was nostalgia more than the title available in the dark days that kept Pinball alive. I love WPC and Sys 11 Games, they are what I grew up with and they’ll continue to be special to me. But my modern Sterns get way more play than my older games have in a home setting. The code and technology available today simply adds so much more to game play than was ever possible back then.

    #53 1 year ago

    I already answered general feasibility of pinball operation on routes, today. I am not going to deeply discuss operator financial strategies. This is simpler as I stated:

    "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."

    Our best earners are jukeboxes, photobooths, and ATMs, not pinball. Pinball is used to bring in patrons at key locations or mega locations. There are four techs dedicated to over 100+ pinball titles (and performing restorations for upcoming special events) which is insane in comparison to other vending, service, and amusement types of games operated. I understand the business. I understand the games. Many locations here presently want pinball but it is not the best option, based on the high standard for general maintenance of all games, not just pinball regardless of manufacturer.

    Resale value of pinball titles to other games makes it worth the new purchases presently, even when $8-12K. We fortunately are in our region making back the costs in less than two years, as I presently told, but I am not the accountant. I have to agree or the owner would not be buying 1-2 limited edition of equivalent games at every release, or 2-5 of other titles. Other equipment is not cheaper anyway if people know trade show or cockpit simulators.

    What is largest problems with Stern games as reported (since 2015)? Lack of documentation, unrepairable problems, and/or waiting for parts. However, this goes for ALL manufacturers since 2013 starting with JJP, but those are the games people want to try right now.

    Two Houdinis are still being "bulletproofed" and tested for the same reason in the shop. New company and unproven record.

    Learning about the operator world is not the goal of this thread. People need to make their peace, somehow or go learn through local resources.

    Personally, I have no interest as an operator as I am finanicially independent, so this is no debate. My technical work is to provide entertainment to others, speed of repair and troubleshooting, history, and restoration for routes. Predominantly, benchside of late, so I don't have to do pulls.

    Go pinball.

    -2
    #54 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    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?

    Lots of falacies is your analysis. 1) buy the machines for cash, don’t finance them. 2) don’t forget their resale value. 3) the rest is gravy

    #55 1 year ago

    This is a tough question. I love the pins from both eras.
    I couldn’t see myself ever selling my restored B/W titles; but still really enjoy playing my Stern and now JJP titles.
    I grew up with the 80s-90s B/W dmd pins. They carry a lot of nostalgia and fond memories.
    Regardless, Stern has made some amazing titles over the years, (MET & TWD being two of my favorites); and I’m sure, along with JJP, will further launch some awesome pins.

    #56 1 year ago
    Quoted from Shapeshifter:

    Build quality - no.
    Humor - no.
    Code ( when completed ) and sheer addictiveness - yes.

    Agreed, and would add:

    Animation / display : yes (LCD is a huge improvement)
    Light show & sound : yes (color changing Leds offer new possibilities)
    Toys & mechanical innovation : no (try to match TZ or Banzai Run...)

    #57 1 year ago

    I think Williams could have kept going and survived if their mission was pinball, but bean counters were in charge and they went where the money was. It's probably good for Stern they did or it may not have been the survivor without having the market to themselves.

    I do like Stern games and own a bunch, but I do miss some of the charm and humor of WPC games. Many seem to have caught an intrinsic magic missing today. Newer Stern's can be just as fun to play, but in a different way. From my perspective, Stern is getting there in a "cheaper" way, cashing in on licensed themes, while Williams could get the job done without. In that way, I still tend to think of Stern as second fiddle. Let's see if Stern can catch the magic with an unlicensed theme. We won't have to wait much longer now to find out, and I hope it's a smash, as none of the music themes have caught my full attention. I did however enjoy AC/DC and look forward to try IMDN.

    I'm also not totally happy with some of the design evolution at Stern. It's clear software plays a much bigger roll these days, but a lot of the resource now has to go to the LCD display. I think this has hurt pinball evolution in some ways: personally, I'd like to see more programming attention in other areas like the light show. For a while we had full-rgb playfields that were well-utilized, as in Star Trek premium/LE, along with full power flashers. In some sense, I think the SAM platform was the pinnacle. I haven't looked closely at recent releases (maybe it's getting better?), but early Spike machines had some pretty dimly lit inserts with cheap pcb LEDs and flashers without much punch. This could also be a result of cost cutting with the power supply and not having the same versatility there.

    #58 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.

    Like Star Wars?

    #59 1 year ago

    Stern makes some cool games, but I don’t think you’ll ever see something like TZ or IJ or STTNG again... well, except from JJP.

    #60 1 year ago
    Quoted from gunstarhero:

    Stern makes some cool games, but I don’t think you’ll ever see something like TZ or IJ or STTNG again... well, except from JJP.

    I would like Stern somewhere down the road to try a widebody again.

    #61 1 year ago
    Quoted from WackyBrakke:

    Lots of falacies is your analysis. 1) buy the machines for cash, don’t finance them. 2) don’t forget their resale value. 3) the rest is gravy

    Who has $100,000 cash to start a route?

    If it's gravy, why don't we pins at 7\11 instead of cranes?

    Hilarious.

    #62 1 year ago
    Quoted from HighVoltage:

    I think Williams could have kept going and survived if their mission was pinball, but bean counters were in charge and they went where the money was.

    The pinball division was not losing money.

    Neil simply wanted pinball dead.

    That's why he would not sell it to any other company.

    It was important to him that it was simply dead

    #63 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    It was important to him that it was simply dead

    What a dick.

    #64 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    The pinball division was not losing money.

    Right, didn't mean to suggest otherwise, they just went after a much bigger more lucrative market (where the money was) and didn't care about pinball. Which is also why I suggested they could have survived if they wanted to.

    #65 1 year ago

    It was not a financial consideration at all.

    Neil totally wanted pinball dead.

    #66 1 year ago

    Can you elaborate? I wasn't following pinball much at the time, so I'm going by what I've gathered from documentaries / historians. It sure sounds and looks like it was financial.

    -2
    #67 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.
    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.

    Is that you Gary Stern.

    #68 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    Neil totally wanted pinball dead.

    you make it sound like there would have been buyers

    #69 1 year ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    It was not a financial consideration at all.
    Neil totally wanted pinball dead.

    Does anyone have any more details on this? Why did he personally want pinball dead? Was he strictly business man with no passion for saving pinball?

    Does anyone have any background on Neil? What ever happened to him?

    #70 1 year ago

    With all history, nostalgia, build quality, etc aside.

    Speaking from a players stand point, I think Stern has succeeded.

    They play different that is for sure. The games are faster, harder, and in some cases have deeper rule sets. I've probably finished the complete rule set on most of the top golden era pins but I can't say that for MET, AC/DC, LOTR, TWD, GB and numerous others. It's a different era of pinball love it or hate it.

    I'm really liking the new games that are coming out and they've done a great job keeping them addictive so that you want to play over and over...

    WMS/Bally games will always be classics and hold a special place in everyone's heart but the new era of games are awesome if you ask me. Pinball reborn!!

    #71 1 year ago

    I think Stern has succeeded in making some of the all time great modern games, there's no way I couldn't give that to them. In my mind they only have one 'failure' that prevents them from being at the same pinnacle as Bally/Williams, and that's that they never did a series of awesome original, unlicensed titles.

    Games like Simpsons, Lord of the Rings, Tron, Metallica, looks like Iron Maiden, plenty of great games built on the backs of good licenses that were done well. The recent hand drawn art trend is awesome, to me it's genuine progress over some of the early lackluster packages.

    But they don't have an Attack from Mars, or Medieval Madness, or even a Scared Stiff, where they showed they can really create something magical from scratch without riding on the back of existing themes. Maybe the rumored Ritchie title will be a genuine step in that direction?

    Until that happens in my mind they can't be completely on top.

    #72 1 year ago
    Quoted from branlon8:

    you make it sound like there would have been buyers

    Companies did make offers.

    Neil said that it was not for sale at any price.

    #73 1 year ago
    Quoted from kevmad:

    Why did he personally want pinball dead?

    He hated everything about the pinball division.

    The drama, the artists, the designers.

    To further punish the pinball employees, Neil fired every one of them, rather than internally transfer some of them to other WMS divisions.

    So former pinball employees had to bring in a resume and apply for jobs like they had never worked there before.

    Quoted from kevmad:

    Was he strictly business man with no passion for saving pinball?

    Save pinball??? He hated it.

    He did everything he could to exterminate it.

    #74 1 year ago

    I'm pretty new to the scene but have to say that 80s and 90s games have more draw than Stern's titles. They all seem to have a whimsical nature, be it Monster Bash with it's amusing call outs, or Addams Family's "Flip, Thing, Flip!" and the Bear kicks. The games have solid humor and are not too serious by any means.

    I can't think of a modern Stern that I've played where the game has that element. Even a game like TSPP, based on a comedy cartoon, doesn't display the sense of humor that B/W had.

    Of recent games, I think only Houdini has moved the needle back to that light-heartedness. Spooky may have made some strides here, but I haven't played too much on their games. Even Dialed In misses the tone I think.

    #75 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 : )

    ever? I'm pretty sure every decade of coin-op pre-1900 was probably worse

    #76 1 year ago
    Quoted from branlon8:

    you make it sound like there would have been buyers

    I know personally there was a group that offered $20M to buy out the division and spin it off separately. Neil refused.

    #77 1 year ago
    Quoted from misterschu:

    They all seem to have a whimsical nature

    Agree with you, as this is one of the WMS aspects I really like.

    I think Stern's commitment to licenced themes - and the restrictions that come with them - really ties their hands when it comes to adding humor to the game.

    Addams Family was a comedy, MB was campy and the universal monsters had comic treatment before the pin, just don't see that in any Stern's licensing. Roadshow, the disaster themes, MM and plenty if others gave WMS the opportunity to be creative and funny.

    #78 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.
    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.

    yeah, but that cloudy DP actually made the inserts look better, and generally (a few games come to mind as exceptions, I'm looking at you afm, cv) stuck to the PF better. but it was way thinner and that means faster wear-through.

    #79 1 year ago
    Quoted from WackyBrakke:

    Lots of falacies is your analysis. 1) buy the machines for cash, don’t finance them. 2) don’t forget their resale value. 3) the rest is gravy

    No, also look at the depreciation recapture on the taxes for that machine you wrote off as a business expense. That's gonna eat into that "profit". You wrote it down to $0 then resold it for 8K? that 8K is income, that 9k written off gets taxed on recapture.

    #80 1 year ago

    One factor that led to some of the most outstanding games in the '90s is development budget which affected the amount of time allowed to polish a machine to a high standard and the number of custom toys. If you expect to sell 10,000 machines then this is possible but not in today's market.

    Becaus of this and other reasons, it's clear to me that there was far more leeway in the '90s to create a fun piece of playable art first and then expect that to sell well rather than what we see mostly today; first ask what will be profitable and then create a (fun) machine that will achieve that goal. Similar approaches at first glance but the end products are a worlds apart (for those who can notice the difference).

    #81 1 year ago

    The advanced rules and faster gameplay in modern Sterns make me enjoy them more. When I started the hobby 3 years ago, I was totally a B/W nostalgia guy. I own TAF and AFM for that reason. That said, I'd rather pump quarters in to a modern Stern than a 90s B/W.

    #82 1 year ago
    Quoted from Marvin:

    No, also look at the depreciation recapture on the taxes for that machine you wrote off as a business expense. That's gonna eat into that "profit". You wrote it down to $0 then resold it for 8K? that 8K is income, that 9k written off gets taxed on recapture.

    If you can sell routed games for $8K, then you are going to be successful at anything you do.

    Seems to me operating is like commercial real estate. It's all about the cash flow and the P&L is secondary.

    #83 1 year ago
    Quoted from Marvin:

    ever? I'm pretty sure every decade of coin-op pre-1900 was probably worse

    I haven't seen the audits from the ancient coin-operated holy water dispensing machine invented by Hero of Alexandria in the first century. So until we gets those, decades pre-1900 are open to debate.

    And the 1880's were rampant with coin operated vending machines and the rise of amusement machines like The Locomotive by William T. Smith, produced in Providence. We haven't seen those figures either.

    LTG : )

    #84 1 year ago
    Quoted from gunstarhero:

    Stern makes some cool games, but I don’t think you’ll ever see something like TZ or IJ or STTNG again... well, except from JJP.

    or CGC.

    #85 1 year ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    But they don't have an Attack from Mars, or Medieval Madness, or even a Scared Stiff, where they showed they can really create something magical from scratch without riding on the back of existing themes. Maybe the rumored Ritchie title will be a genuine step in that direction?
    Until that happens in my mind they can't be completely on top.

    I can't say I agree with that statement. I'm really digging my High Roller Casino these days. It's pretty magical.

    #86 1 year ago
    Quoted from jlm33:

    greed, and would add:

    Animation / display : yes (LCD is a huge improvement)
    Light show & sound : yes (color changing Leds offer new possibilities)
    Toys & mechanical innovation : no (try to match TZ or Banzai Run...)

    Only reason Stern has LCD displays is because they were forced to by their competition. Sadly that is the only way you are going to see any innovation by Stern.

    #87 1 year ago

    For me personal W/B is better.One main reason is the new boards of STERN.I like to have a chance to repair the board if something go wrong.Even rebuild the whole board.No chance for this from STERN and their boards are not cheap.Or if you can try to repair it it will be much harder than W/B.And this is electronic and it fail.

    #88 1 year ago

    Well, one thing Stern was quick to get onboard with and join their competition was jacking up prices. I don't think they had any idea we'd pay such high prices for a pinball machine--until it was proven we would. I thank JJP for that...

    #89 1 year ago
    Quoted from T-800:

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

    It is all subjective I have never liked CC but do like POTC

    #90 1 year ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    original, unlicensed titles.

    #91 1 year ago

    I think Stern has done a great job picking up where Data East and Sega left off.

    Although most of the themes from those two companies were a little more current for the times.

    #92 1 year ago

    Apples and oranges to me. Love 90s B/W games but not all were great. They went out of business and Stern survived. Stern employs some of the same people that built B/W games. Stern makes some great games but some not so great. Big thing is Stern still makes the pro for routing and le's for home collectors. Despite their hit and miss record, they still can sell out le's in minutes without even pics. Must be doing something right.

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