Maybe it's time to build a simpler pin. One more old school. That's a lot cheaper. And I mean more 1980 Bally than I do Stern's "The Pin".
Maybe it's time to make a level of new pinball that's affordable. Maybe it's time to make a pin that actually can bring in different location players. I don't think people in the hobby realize how intimidating a modern pin is to a new person.
When your standard game is $8500 and it just keeps going up I'm priced out man. I don't brush my teeth with a gold toothbrush and sleep nestled in the furs of young ocelots in my mansion floating in the clouds with antigrav technology I stole from the future with my time machine that I used to make a trillion dollars in the stock market. It's a pinball.
If I really want the LE that's on me, people can pay whatever if they want their top dog status. But base model? Where are the games that people can afford if they're not ballers? Where are games that operators can afford to try out?
Let's bring back the era of the early solid state. But marry it with modern thinking.
And maybe this is the way to get games on location that are cheap(er) and easier for people to get. While still providing that challenge that makes games like Fathom, Centaur, Mystic, Medusa, Eight Ball Deluxe, Flash Gordon, Elektra, etc so much fun still.
Even for world class players. Jim Belsito is the one who introduced me to Flash Gordon and Mystic. I own them both now because he showed me how even a champion level player can get great gameplay back from them.
But not retro for the sake of being retro.
0) Modern sounds, music, lighting, and rules. Keep it simple still! Nothing crazy rules wise. But enough depth to keep it entertaining at home if set steep and open and challenging. Use RGB LEDs if you want. Cool to use modern tech where it makes sense. Have bad ass light shows.
1) Everything has direct line of sight. No complicated ramps and multilevels of understanding. You know how to get where you want to go.
2) Bring back 5 balls. Make the games hard. Make dangerous shots for important things. Challenge people. But give them 5 balls again. It will feel like more value. They'll get two more tries than usual, so every game they play will have more "almost there" feeling of trying to make it a little further. It will still have shorter ball times than a 3 ball modern DMD.
3) Drop 4 players down to 2. You solo, or you vs your buddy. Simpler, more practical for location play. Compared to modern DMDs these will still have shorter ball times. So it works with location math. Replace the start button with two buttons, 1 PLAYER and 2 PLAYER. Light just the first for one credit, light them both for 2 credits. Everyone gets that arcade model. Move the buttons to the lockdown bar.
Ever watch newbs on location? They don't even know how to start a game after they put in quarters.
4) This is where you have an original theme! Two big alphanumeric displays on the backbox. One red, one blue, or something. Player One and Player Two. Some bad ass art around it all by someone who's got a style that connects with a youth audience. Pinball is for teenagers and young punks man! Keep it that way! The rest of us will feel like we're connecting a beloved old era with the present, we can roll with it.
No license. No extra costs. Alphanumeric display means no animations needed. Simpler game and rules means less sound and music needed to be created. Way more cost effective, and way less work since you can do everything in house on your own schedule. No approval process.
I know I'd buy the hell out of something like that for say $4k. Keep it realistic, it has to be profitable and doable. But man, cheap enough to play in the same pond as the secondary pin market. Cheaper than a Stern Pro. Which keeps going up.
With some bad ass art? The kids all love Zombie Yeti, right kids?!