Quoted from ExtremePinball:
Two things... I suffer damage to the cabinet side art, and I'd lose half of my already dismal pinball revenue.
I didn't become successful by making bad decisions. So when I do remove half of my pins, that space will then be occupied by higher earning games. It's not my job to try to make pinball a spectator sport.
A half an hour after the very first collection on that basketball, I immediately ordered a second basketball game to link up to the first one for head to head competition. I also ordered a state-of-the-art dual skeeball set with insane LED lighting and an high score overhead. That $20,000 investment into 3 new games will earn me more money in a week than the $100,000 investment that I have into 16 pinball machines combined.
The bottom line is that higher prices are terrible for pinball. They've priced operators out of the market, and they're just pissing off collectors. I speak from the position of both.
George Gomez completely acknowledged on C2C Episode 221 (I believe) that the market focus had shifted from Ops to Collectors. He said and details all of the design and process changes they've enacted to accommodate a completely new audience of buyers.
I think they know the truth: location pinball (while great for all of us) is so far from the interest of Joe Public that the only route of survival is to cater to collectors. In the past, collectors have happily collected coin-op machines solely designed to earn money while sitting in a bar or an arcade or a pizza shop. Rarity and collectability blossomed on its own accord in that situation. Now, we have companies practically ignoring the Operator/Coin-Op side of the equation and manufacturing games for direct sale to collectors and home buyers. In the process they have lost their minds on pricing.
Ops are getting pushed out and consumers are being sold things that are supposed to be collectable right out of the box. It's like those ridiculous Mint ads you see on TV for limited runs of coins that no true collector gives a rats a$$ about. All the while, manufacturers keep raising the price floor.
Part of me wonders if these ridiculous prices are just setting the stage for slightly reduced but severely elevated prices.
"Look...we know $9K was too much, so we are going to sell for $8499"
"Oh wow. Really? Great deal!"
What pinball manufacturers should be doing is looking to (1) reduce design and manufacturing cost and (2) creatively look to make pinball relevant for wide spread location use. Build for the Ops and sell to consumers on the side. Let the market thrive and exist without attempting to manhandle it. Honestly, the collector's dream of crazy physical layouts and super deep rules is just about as silly as company's asking $9K....12.5K.... and $15k for a wood box with some steel balls in it ---> it is so counter to making pinball relevant and enjoyable to the average person that has $5 to spend on entertainment at a bar.
If they can't make it relevant to the masses, this whole thing is going to collapse. Step one is making it affordable to operate. Step two is making sustainably attractive to Joe Public. They way things are going at the moment, manufacturers are signaling that they don't have a good location answer.