The guy who encouraged me to run my first tournament taught me a super important lesson: it's not about the games, it's about the people.
When arcades were still popular "the scene" happened organically. Now that entertainment has moved a lot more into the home, it just doesn't happen automatically. It needs help. It needs a jump start.
At the same time, people want a reason to get off the couch or give the video games a break, and get some real freakin' human interaction. The existence of sites like Meetup.com are a perfect example of this.
This is where I see an opportunity for pinball. There are many people who like playing pinball, but they're casual players and they're spread thin. Casual players will not hunt down games fanatically like hardcore players. They won't scour yelp for locations or games in good condition. They need a focal point and a social opportunity.
When you create opportunities for people to hang out, socialize and participate in something they all enjoy, the people will come out and start putting quarters in the machines. A few of the casuals will get more serious and join the hardcore. Eventually, with enough care and feeding it will start to form it's own feedback loop. I like tournaments for this reason because I'm competitive but also because people have a reason on their own to come back to the bar and practice even on those days when there isn't a social opportunity, such as a tournament.
With no scene, once the interest starts to wane a little bit, the person finds another interest. Once a person has a scene, they're compelled to stay and keep doing it.