Quoted from shacklersrevenge:
It begs the question, why? You're giving us less and less and you want more and more?
I totally get why you're peeved, so don't take this response as flippant or disrespectful. The answer to this question is super simple: because buyers are willing to pay more and more while accepting less and less.
The proof is in the pudding.
There was a time that Stern could say their market was coin-op and home collectors were a fringe benefit. In other words, Stern could say: "Tough, collectors. You're buying coin-op games, you'd better know what you're getting into."
But they know, just like the rest of the industry, that they are now predominantly servicing a home collector market. Gorge Gomez explained (and admitted) it perfectly in very plain words on a Coast 2 Coast podcast several years ago. At the time, he claimed that Stern was adjusting materials and workmanship to meet the home collector's expectations. From an art perspective (and code), that might be true and they are delivering what people want. But from a build perspective, Stern isn't cutting it... in fact, we all know they are literally "cutting it" by cheapening build quality. Look at the last several years... cheap cabinet issues, decals peeling off, insert issues, and poorly applied clear chipping off the playfield. They've removed rather standard mechanisms, like the traditional lockdown bar, they've moved the on/off button (obviously to save on material), the backbox (which is a nightmare if you need to take it apart) is made out of cheap/thin metal. The list goes on and on... including node board issues.
It's crazy to think Stern's Spike games, if I'm not mistaken, all have unique node boards. And there's no schematics!! But, let's be honest. If there were schematics, practically 0% of the collecting community has the tools or skills to repair micro-SMD. Hell, I had sound board issue on a Star Trek Pro with one of those chips... I had to send that board to a professional. Cost $125 to have one little its-bitsy chip changed. No way I could have pulled it off.
All the while, Stern has been kicking prices up. $200 here... $300 there... they just keep climbing, far outpacing inflation. Just 3 or 4 years ago, you could score a Pro model for about $4K NIB if you knew what you were doing. You can't even get close to that today. Why? Because buyers are lining up and throwing cash down despite the issues of the last few years... and despite the fact that Spike is known not to be serviceable on the spot.
Look at what happened last week. They sold 500 Munster LEs in a matter of days and it's safe bet that only a small percentage of those buyers had played the game in Vegas. Practically blind sales were so good that Stern turns around and ups the number to 600.
There is zero incentive for Stern not to conduct business as they have. Collectors are the problem.
I can guarantee 1000% that Stern would quickly... VERY quickly... change practices if sales slowed. If Munsters' sales were 75% below expected because customers didn't want to pay $225 for a node board... you better believe Stern would be announcing that node board schematics were being released and that replacement boards would be supplied for significantly less money. Pick your issue, they'd make it go away.
But, under the current buying climate, absolutely zero is going change. In fact, they're probably actively looking for more ways to make the gettin' good while the gettin' is good. Because this uber-expensive pinball gravy train is riding on a very thin line that's dependent on a healthy national economy.
All I can say: buyer beware. We all know exactly what we're getting into when buying a Spike Stern game. Is the risk worth it? From a player's perspective it might be... but it could certainly be ri$ky as an owner. This is an issue that extends from the NIB buyer right to the secondhand buyer... each one reinforces the other.