Forget Stern... Go back and get those Williams titles when quality and finished code meant something.
Forget Stern... Go back and get those Williams titles when quality and finished code meant something.
I think all of us haven't touched on something most important. The expo launched Batman 1966, Dialed in and Alien. Did anyone notice
that Batman 1966 looked pretty and gleaming with LED's? Sure you did. Did you notice the price tags? (IM SURE YOU DID). Did you notice
the big marketing around batman with Adam West being there? Of course! Now, let's come to terms with something. Beautiful game, nice
theme, great artwork, relates to us guys who are in the money making stage of our lives so we can buy it right? Sure! So everyone who
bought this machine bought the following:
Nice art package
A machine that is rethemed from Batman Dark Knight which has plummeted in value.
Interestingly enough. Those who bought Batman 66 were "NOT ABLE TO PLAY IT". Why? Because there is not code! This is a pattern
happening with all Stern games. Beautiful artwork and unfinished code. You're buying an expensive looking box!
Next, you have Dialed in and Alien out there and the games work and guest what "YOU CAN PLAY THEM". Shouldn't you have an up and
running machine for an Expo? Yes! Hopefully you can see that Stern is churning out expensive boxes of art and everyone is buying them
without playing them. Then you have to wait for code to complete because their assembly line is most important. Hey, how about finishing
up all those games that still need code so the games are playable and change your practice to code games prior to release so the
end user knows what they are getting. Look at all the Williams and Bally titles that were released. Guess what, the same programmers
are still employed with Stern and were able to get the games coded and machines completed due to Williams good business practices.
Look at the revisions of roms. You'll see that there are some but not many. And guess what, the quality of the Bally/Willams games are
so good that those games are still being played today. Let's look at Gottlieb and older Stern games. Hell, let's look at all pinball manufacturers back in the day. The games were shipped completed and ready to play The more people feed into buying expensive boxes
with unfinished code, the more prices will increase and more fools will be born.
Quoted from PNorth:
Stern can present a shiny game, and not have to undergo any scrutiny of how the game actually plays. They can present it without having to worry about glitches, or something breaking down. As such, there's no Pinside discussion about a failure, or how similar the play is to Batman TDK.
I compeltely agree with this. Distract everyone with bling and Adam West, don't have a playing game there for people to criticize next to
Alien and Dialed In and let everyone "WONDER" about the game play. After all, this is a re-theme machine and there is no guarantee how
this game will play. Let them spend mone on "Pretty" and wonder.
Quoted from Cornelius:
But didn't KISS get a rather sizable update?
Kiss is the poorest update of them all. The initial update was because Stern needed to charge their customers $400.00 for the topper.
So, the update was to integrate the topper with the game. The last update was in April which added heavens on fire to a wizard mode and
some subtle differences. That's it. We've been waiting patiently since delivery in August of 2015 for a fully working machine.
Quoted from toyotaboy:
d "we'll send you decals in the mail), but when I pointed it out and Charlie immediately said "that's unacceptable", wheeled it back into the shop, spent the next hour doing a QC check on another build they had waiting even though they had dinner plans and kids to pick up from sports, and I went home with a perfect game.
Now this is customer service! Let me tell you something. When Stern needed the business years ago code was coming shipped with machines. They needed to build a reputation. Now their head is bloated. Every game is rushed out the door with issues and incomplete
code. They got so greedy to make the money that they have Batman 1966 unveiled at an expo which no one could play. Come on already.
Code code code! You have programmers who are the rock stars of the pinball community from Williams that can finish the code. Give them
some slack and let them finish the games already. This is utterly ridiculous. Pinball machines escalting in the 12-15k value range which is
unfinished product? Are you kidding me? How can people keep shiny lit up chrismtas tree boxes at this rate? Codes needed are: Kiss,
GB, ST, Xmen, WWE and I'm sure I"m missing some more here. When do you think catch up time will be to fix these machines? I'll tell you when, on the programmer's own time on the weekends. What does that tell you......... Bad business... Do I like Stern machines, yes.. But only when they are coded and complete. Having games without code just kills the business. Want to make it up to the collectors and
vendors Stern, put up the code and give a crap for a change. Listen to your customers and open your ears.
Quoted from MapleSyrup:
They've had a few QC issues of late, and nobody is happy about rising prices... but is that cause to generate so much bile, and bluster?!!?
Quality Issues - Unacceptable
Rising Prices - Unacceptable
Pegs, no lock down bar or rails and plastic cheap IDC sockets, thinner playfields which are wearing within a few months of purchase
are legitimate issues.
When you maximize prices and sacrifice quality you will get bluster and bile. Sorry, but these are not $1500 machines. Stern should
and will hear these comments. It's about time Stern gets an ear load. They took the money, now take the heat. How about improving
quality control and bringing back pinball built the way it is supposed to be built and played and updating code quicker. How about they
inform the customers who spent their $5500 - $15K on a pinball machine when updates can be expected to give them some insight. It's not
like they don't have a website or facebook page. Surely they can spread promotion of their products but not be informative to the end
user? The money spent on pinball machines isn't exactly cheap. In the end, bad business practices all around. Take the money, run and
move on to the next title is what is being seen now. This cannot go unnoticed.
PinballAlley I think everyone is cool with your business and all. But, you have to admit Stern is not doing any justice to the vendor and now has pulled the rug from under the collectors. If you're a Stern Distributor, you should call Stern and inform them of how their business practices are affecting collectors, vendors and distributors. I agree Stern did turn up some successful titles. I personally own Metallica,
Tron LE, Iron Man, Star trek and Kiss. Unfortunately, Kiss being a music pin, has taken a serious beating and been forgotten just as several other pins have. Don't forgive bad business practices, do something about it. Tell Stern what's going on voice your opinion. Don't be a
distributor who is blind to what's going on. The facts are clear. Collectors and vendors have spoken. Don't let all these comments fall on deaf ears. If distributors don't speak up, Stern will continue the same bad business practices which will cost distributors money. Collectors and vendors will not purchase machines at increased prices, unfinished code and inferior quality. Ask yourself this question, what if the pinball market turns out to be car market? Not everyone can afford to purchase a new pinball so they will wait a few years for the title to depreciate, contain tons of mods and purchase the title for much less. Is this the type of business Stern and distributors want to see? I don't think so. I think sales and assembly lines movement is what needs to be seen. If quality goes down, no code and prices go high, how can a business sustain itself?
PinballAlley you bring up good points and you seem like an honest seller and distributor. The three key elements here that need to be
escalated to Stern are as follows:
Game Code (When will it be completed from start to finish - Stern needs to provide "realistic" time lines for completion to it's programmers
as well as periodic updates to it's investors through their Facebook page or Pinside. Collectors, home owners and vendors are the investors and we spend a lot of money on machines. Without the investors, there is no Stern Pinball.
Price (Price needs to stabilize to affordable levels so the hobby can continue to thrive. Sourcing pinball parts that are too expensive drives
up cost. Quality and cost sourcing needs to be managed better by Stern to churn up better machines at affordable prices. Go back to simple economics. Sell more machines for less money and gain better profit. You'll have your assembly line running as you wanted and increase productivity and profitability.
Quality (Check the quality of the finished product. You have the "Stern" brand name on it. First and foremost, do not sacrifice quality because
you're rushing the games out and tarnishing your own brand. This is business. This is Stern's business. Don't rush it. Do it right. Maintain
your current customer base and increase productivity and sales through Quality.
When you combine all of the above, you have gained customer loyalty, trust in the name brand and satisfied every investor. Until this
is addressed by every Distributor directly to Gary himself, this hobby will continue to plummet causing the future of pinball to become
(By the way............. Kiss Code Please)
Because the manufacturer needs to make money. They source the money from the vendor, home owner and collector. It's easy to put out
an incomplete product to take your money while they move on with other projects and keep the assembly line working to take more of
your money. It's really very simple. Bait the customer with a beautiful looking machine, take their money and deliver a playable game. Keep
doing this to take people's money. As for finishing the game, it's unnecessary. Why? Cause they just stole your money and they have no
obligation to the game any longer. If they choose to finish it they will. If not, oh well.
Quoted from Sticky:
Dimples? Get over it.
Ghosting? Get over it.
Playield issues? Get over it.
Cheap materials? Get over it.
Social media censorship? Get over it.
Deleting posts? Get over it.
$15k machines? Get over it.
No code updates? Get over it.
Shipping unfinished code? Get over it.
Increased costs? Get over it.
Banning reporters from events? Get over it.
Sticky, all the above is 100% dead on point. If the above doesn't deter someone from continuing to buy such product,
they will have to make up their own minds and learn by experience. I think it's time that Stern re-evaluates it's business model. First and
foremost, finish code on games and show some commitment to your vendors, home owners, distributors and collectors. At least this will
show some effort. All the quality issues, pricing issues and relationships can be worked out. Something has to give.
So we have lots of uncompleted code because of assembly lines moving to make money. Yes, I understand Stern is a business and needs to
make money to survive. We heard it all before. "If the assembly line doesn't move, there is no profitability". Stern identified what needs to happen to make money. However, now's the time to identify the need for code completion within three - six months of release with periodic
updates on social media to advise their investors (collectors, vendors, distributors, home market) as to when code updates can be completed. In the real business world there are deadlines for production and finished product. When you can charge anywhere from $5500 - $15,000 for a machine which is equivalent to a used or new car, the expectation is code completion and finished product. There are no exceptions. Start informing your investors what's going on. You took the money, now hear the complaints.
Quoted from o-din:
Anytime I purchase something that was designed to make money, specifically a coin operated machine, I'd say it is an investment, and therefore I'm an investor.
Whole heartedly agree. Once you make a purchase you are a full fledged investor of that property. I'm sure as a collector, home owner and vendor you are not buying to loose money. But if you are paying high dollars for a machine or equipment and are lookign for quality, reliability and longevity as well as stability in value to some degree, you're an investor. At all levels, you are investing into Stern's quality. So I don't
believe I"m wrong here. Whether value goes up or down, you are investing in the name brand.
I have an LE. But I have to tell you, they're not ever going back to that one again. It's done.
I've seen routed sterns have tons of dimples, shooter lanes gouged and have the most quality issues in terms of flipper assemblies needing
Let's not forget..... They released Batman 66 and had it at an Expo in a Non - Playable state. Due to what? No Code! This is a huge problem
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