Quoted from sethi_i:
To me, eliminating the outside distribution model creates the same problem for pinball manufacturers as it would for most other industries...getting your product in front of people.
This is a really good point, and dovetails with an interesting trend I've watched over the last few months.
Stern has now gone all-in with promotion of pinball machines via Twitch, primarily leveraging the over 20,000 and growing follower community curated by DeadFlip, aka Jack Danger.
They had DeadFlip livestream The Munsters unveiling this week at CES in Las Vegas and multiple days of playing. Note that Stern didn't set up their own channel on Twitch to do this; they used DeadFlip's existing channel, which plugs directly into his vibrant community. Those live streams get on average 500-700 views in realtime, and the replays on his YouTube channel are easily getting 1,000 views in 24 hours, with The Munsters reveal up to almost 5,000 (as of January 11, 2019).
So getting pinball in front of more people certainly has a lot of potential with platforms such as Twitch and YouTube, and it has the potential to disintermediate distributors as the ones with "exclusive access" to becoming familiar with machines, since playing them used to be the only way you could get an idea of the ruleset and "fun" value. Now anybody can watch players of all skill levels play almost any machine and see how they do from the convenience of an iPhone.
How can distributors capitalize on this?
By hosting their own Twitch and/or YouTube channels, or partnering up with someone who already has an existing channel, and post pinball sessions on a variety of machines for sale.
In addition, walkthrough and tutorial videos, when done properly, can effectively introduce novice pinball players to the intricacies and challenges that are unique to each machine.
The real question, though, is whether or not the audience consuming content on Twitch/YouTube etc. is the intended target audience, which I suppose (for distributors) would be affluent households with disposable income and the space to locate one or more pinball machines.
So if you crack that code of audience targeting, then I believe you'll have tremendous success and fun in this recent resurgence of pinball!
If you liked my take, please follow me on Twitch! https://www.twitch.tv/billwinterberg Twilight Zone pinball stream setup (resized).jpg