(Topic ID: 274396)

Perspective from someone new to the hobby: Pro/Premium/LE

By Chet_Hardbody

1 year ago


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    #1 1 year ago

    Note: I'm completely new to pinball, so my opinions could be wildly incorrect. Please feel free to tell me I am an idiot.

    As someone who has played pinball casually in arcades and has been looking to get my own pin, the way they are marketed and sold have turned me off a bit. At already almost $6,000 for the entry model for a new Stern, you would think you'd be getting a complete pin. Except if you don't shell out an additional $1,700, you miss out on some features. For example, if you want your damn T-Rex to eat a ball, you better pay for the Jurassic Park (Premium).

    I understand that a lot of sales likely go to arcades, bars, and private businesses, but for the average person this seems pretty anti-consumer. I don't plan on buying a NIB any time soon, with this being part of the reason why.

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    #2 1 year ago
    Quoted from Chet_Hardbody:

    for the average person this seems pretty anti-consumer. I don't plan on buying a NIB any time soon, with this being part of the reason why.

    Obviously you have never bought a car or a hot tub or a TV or an AV receiver or gone to a restaurant to eat. All these examples I have given you have options and you can choose how much you want to spend. Maybe you are equating a pinball machine to a CD you would pick up to listen to an album but heck there are even special edition of CDs that you might pay extra for that might have a few extra tracks or maybe has a fancy wrapper.

    You said it's anti consumer but to me it's not. If they only made one version which costs $7500 that would be more anti consumer.

    If you wanted to buy a car, would you like it to have come only one way with every single option or would you be able to buy what you need or can afford?

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    #3 1 year ago

    Well every other manufacturer basically starts at at least 6500 so a pro model is about $1000 cheaper.

    It really depends on the game but in many many cases the pro is a very small compromise over the premium.

    You mention Jurassic park... yes the T. rex is cool but it adds zero to the game play. It’s a fun feature to show off to friends but after a while, like all toys, the wow factor wears off. It also can be a pain to keep operating well in some cases. The layout and gameplay between the pro/prem are nearly identical (there are some differences to the raptor pit but in my opinion the pro is better in this regard though others will disagree, my point is that it’s debatable and not objectively worse on the pro).

    For 5700 shipped JP pro is a better game than any 9k+ game from JJP- just my personal opinion.

    #4 1 year ago

    It is also like modern video games. You pay 60 for the game and the the DLC hits you up for 20,40,100 dollars more for what is arguably extra features. Your opinion isn't wrong, but the gripe is not unique to the pinball industry.

    #5 1 year ago
    Quoted from nicoy3k:

    For 5700 shipped JP pro is a better game than any 9k+ game from JJP

    That's a Bold Claim, Cotton.

    #6 1 year ago
    Quoted from Chet_Hardbody:

    At already almost $6,000 for the entry model for a new Stern, you would think you'd be getting a complete pin.

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    #7 1 year ago
    Quoted from guitarded:

    That's a Bold Claim, Cotton.

    is it really? I’d venture that most on here would agree.

    #8 1 year ago

    You have the enviable position of all games being new to you! If you want the “premium” experience look into the Walking Dead, Star Trek, Metallica, etc... all great games that are a few years old that are time tested classics... and can be had in great shape for close to the price of a NIB Stern pro. Some games play better as pros as well.. Aerosmith, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Black Knight... just my opinion of course.

    I’ve learned to generally pick up used games that are at least a couple years old for the most part. You’ll save a bundle, the code is complete, and you can get a great general vibe of the overall public opinion to educate yourself. You’ll also take much less of a hit when it comes time to move it on.

    #9 1 year ago

    Also, no one said you need to buy a new pin, you can buy a pin for as little as free to as much as whatever Supreme pin costs. Stern has been in business for decades without your support and you buying one or not won't make any big difference.

    In fact the company is probably selling more LE/premium pins and is doing you a favor by making a cheaper version.

    Look at Chicago Game Company as another example. The make a AFM for as low as $6300 or a much as $8300 (or whatever) and overwhelmingly they will sell more of the higher price and higher feature pin. Even tho this is still the same gameplay across the lineup but people prefer the higher level with color XXL display and color trim and topper.

    Basically the Stern pro (stripper) is 90-95% as good a LE but costs several thousand less that's a big favor Stern is doing to make the pro for us all. Of course some pros might not be as great maybe AcDc is a good example missing a lower PF and crossover ramp. But some people still love AcDc pro and I can say for myself own Met pro and TWD pro and really like both host as much as the premium (maybe more).

    #10 1 year ago
    Quoted from nicoy3k:

    is it really? I’d venture that most on here would agree.

    I'd love to see a Poll, but my guess is an even split.

    JP, while a gret layout from Elwin, is still a JP Pinball...

    The theme, with basically no assets, is kinda lame imo. Certainly not worth multiple machines from multiple eras.
    The art is awful. Playfield looks like a Color Your Placemat from a Pizza Buffet.

    Callouts. ... even worse.

    I can't think of more than one JJP I would hesitate to take over a JP Pro.

    The awesome thing is, we get to choose for ourselves.

    #11 1 year ago
    Quoted from guitarded:

    I'd love to see a Poll, but my guess is an even split.
    JP, while a gret layout from Elwin, is still a JP Pinball...
    The theme, with basically no assets, is kinda lame imo. Certainly not worth multiple machines from multiple eras.
    The art is awful. Playfield looks like a Color Your Placemat from a Pizza Buffet.
    Callouts. ... even worse.
    I can't think of more than one JJP I would hesitate to take over a JP Pro.
    The awesome thing is, we get to choose for ourselves.

    Sorry I disagree on all counts. Especially art and theme. I think some people just can’t get past the fact that it isn’t an adaptation from the movie. The amount of effort and quality that went into developing the original theme/display etc is incredible. Regardless, I think the fact that we’d be split comparing a 5k game to a 9k game tells you all you need to know. If given to me for free I would take the JJP too because it’s more valuable and harder to replace, but strictly on pinball merit JP is a better game than any JJP offering. My opinion of course.

    #12 1 year ago

    Op, you are going to lose your mind when you hear about the JP topper...

    #13 1 year ago

    Definitely some good points in the replies. I guess for me, when I think of something that is a game, I like to have it uniform between the versions. Like if me and a buddy are playing Call of Duty Online (probably a bad comparison, but whatever) and he has a different gun that came with his game, that would be really odd to me.

    It makes sense from a business perspective, because the margins are probably higher on the Premium/LE games. If I was an up and coming pinball company, I'd market my new games as complete and the best available right out of the box and we don't force you to pay the premium for extras like other companies do.

    #14 1 year ago

    Your best bet is to learn from the ground up. Inevitably if you own a pin your going to have to work on it. Like you I was not going to spend 6000 on a unit. To me that is just too much. I grew up in the 70's and EM's were the rage so I found one for 650 and then another for 700. Then the kids and the grand kids wanted ramps and things so I got lucky and bought a Monte Carlo....it was a great game and a hit with all the family spent 1100 for it...not a bad deal. Flipped the first two machines and bought two more system 80's. yes i have had to work on them all but I now have 3 games and only 3000 invested and they all play like they were when they were new and now I know everything I need to know when it comes to fixing them.
    If you don't know how to fix them you're going to shell out big bucks every time they break or you will end up like a lot of people who just have broken machines siting in their house collecting dust and taking up space and eventually selling them for far less then they are worth

    #15 1 year ago

    Honestly, there's nothing wrong with a pro model of a machine. Sure, you'll probably miss out on a couple cool toys, but who cares? You're still essentially getting the same game, they just install some cool extras in the premium/LEs. Plus, pros tend to have better flow and are usually faster. You'll probably get better at pinball faster if you're playing pros rather than LEs. And, if money is a problem, who says you need a NIB? There are plenty of good games out there that are much cheaper than a NIB stern Prem/LE.

    #16 1 year ago
    Quoted from Chet_Hardbody:

    I don't plan on buying a NIB any time soon, with this being part of the reason why.

    I took a break from pinball for the better part of 10 years and when I returned I was also confused by the variations. Back when I bought new Sterns you ordered the name of the game and you knew exactly what you were getting.

    I wouldn't let these variations discourage you from buying a game (NIB), but I also understand why you are choosing not to. If you decide to move forward with a newer Stern, just know what you are getting into. There are so many limited editions this and what-have-you that even from other manufactures too that have their own subtitle in it's own title. You might even find the "cheaper" titles are more your style just by the way they play. I know a couple of newer games are arguably better when it comes to what the fan base likes.

    #17 1 year ago
    Quoted from JodyG:

    Op, you are going to lose your mind when you hear about the JP topper...

    Rumor has it some people buy houses with low ceilings in the basement just to save themselves from insanity

    #18 1 year ago
    Quoted from Chet_Hardbody:

    Note: I'm completely new to pinball, so my opinions could be wildly incorrect. Please feel free to tell me I am an idiot.
    As someone who has played pinball casually in arcades and has been looking to get my own pin, the way they are marketed and sold have turned me off a bit. At already almost $6,000 for the entry model for a new Stern, you would think you'd be getting a complete pin. Except if you don't shell out an additional $1,700, you miss out on some features. For example, if you want your damn T-Rex to eat a ball, you better pay for the Jurassic Park (Premium).
    I understand that a lot of sales likely go to arcades, bars, and private businesses, but for the average person this seems pretty anti-consumer. I don't plan on buying a NIB any time soon, with this being part of the reason why.

    Welcome to the ploy that checkwriters and this hobby fell completely for - hook, line and sinker.

    Just think, in 2012, the absolutely most we paid was what.....$7000 for an LE?

    Now some companies start their tier at $8K!

    The ploy that keeps on screwing!

    #19 1 year ago
    Quoted from NPO:

    Welcome to the ploy that checkwriters and this hobby fell completely for - hook, line and sinker.
    Just think, in 2012, the absolutely most we paid was what.....$7000 for an LE?
    Now some companies start their tier at $8K!
    The ploy that keeps on screwing!

    I remember buying NIB Stern games for 3,800 not that long ago. Even with inflation calculator and all that jazz we'd be crossing the $5,000 mark right about now.

    Heck back then there were a couple adjustments to make here in there on NIBs but no issues with clearcoat nor were people starting threads on trying to break down a circuit board that we didn't know anything about that was popping off errors. Just sayin.

    #20 1 year ago

    Before Stern started offering pro/le etc. People would complain that they wanted an up-level version with better decals/trim/features vs what the ops bought. This was literally why JJP was launched after the LOTR limited edition deal.

    Fast forward 10 years and now people complain that its anti consumer.

    #21 1 year ago

    Having been an LE buyer for quite awhile and now having been buying pro level games, here is what I have learned. If you want a tricked out game with powder coating, upgraded speakers and side art then the Stern LE is for you. Those are all cosmetics and you could probably recreate them on your premium but it costs $$$. Sometimes, but not always, the extra prem/LE features are cool and affect gameplay but usually they are gimmicks that have no impact on the flow or rules of the game. So for what you get, the prem/LE is now somewhat of a value play for gimmicks / cosmetics. If you don't care about stereo phonic sound, pretty armor and side art then it boils down to whether or not the extra features at the premium level affect the gameplay at all. Most games are perfectly fine at the pro level. And, as some have pointed out, many games the pro is preferable because it plays better. 99% of folks out there will be blown away by any pro gane and wouldn't ever miss the premium / LE features. Oh, and by the way, it isn't a competition for who has the most tricked out games. So get what comfortably fits your budget and don't ever look back. Only a hardcore pinsider would know the difference anyway... Don't do what I have done and try to chase the perfect collection. It doesn't exist and just makes you miserable. So get games you love and don't get bogged down by the "I must have an LE" mentality.

    #22 1 year ago
    Quoted from Chet_Hardbody:

    ... I don't plan on buying a NIB any time soon...

    Yup, pinball machines are expensive

    #23 1 year ago

    Complaints, complaints.

    Just imagine how much more it would cost if they stopped using bargain basement licenses that nobody else wants and got genuine voice actors involved.

    #24 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Complaints, complaints.
    Just imagine how much more it would cost if they stopped using bargain basement licenses that nobody else wants and got genuine voice actors involved.

    LOTR and TSPP were not bargain basement licenses.

    #25 1 year ago
    Quoted from NPO:

    LOTR and TSPP were not bargain basement licenses.

    They were also not made in the last decade. Or even the last 15 years.

    But that's part of the strategy, make people forget that we are now almost a quarter of the way into the 21st century.

    #26 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    They were also not made in the last decade. Or even the last 15 years.
    But that's part of the strategy, make people forget that we are now almost a quarter of the way into the 21st century.

    You do realize lotr and tspp got reruns for years right? There were plenty of nib left 10 years ago as they made them through 2009.

    #27 1 year ago
    Quoted from dung:

    You do realize lotr and tspp got reruns for years right? There were plenty of nib left 10 years ago as they made them through 2009.

    Yep. Just like they are doing now. A bunch of reruns I haven't watched or cared to watch in years.

    #28 1 year ago

    OP here’s the thing... paying up for the higher level model in most cases doesn’t get you a better game. it gets you more flair. 8 out of 10 times, the pro is actually the better option, because there’s less shit to break, it’s actually more fun, and you save $1500-$2500. but they are all in essence the same game. and they feel the same when you play. don’t get me wrong,i hear what you’re saying. when i started in the hobby you picked a title and everyone got that exact same thing. i was opposed to the change. you can probably see this if you comb my posting history here and on RGP. but now i’ve come to appreciate the differences, cuz i get to see how much mechanical nonsense you can cram into an already great game. imagine putting a ball eating dinosaur that grabs the ball with a magnet and spins it in circles, all before kicking it back to the player, on a slick chick. it’s still a great game without all that, but now it also has a ball eating dinosaur that grabs the ball with a magnet and spins it in circles, too. i can live without that, but i’ll play the version with it if i run into one.

    #29 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Yep. Just like they are doing now. A bunch of reruns I haven't watched or cared to watch in years.

    But you care to give you ill informed thoughts in this thread.

    #30 1 year ago
    Quoted from dung:

    But you care to give you ill informed thoughts in this thread.

    What ill informed thoughts? Sorry if I used the wrong word made instead of created and said 15 instead of 10 years.

    Believe me, I try to stay as informed as just about anybody.

    But point was made, there were two higher priced licenses about 15 years ago that kept being made until about 10 years ago. Did I get it right this time?

    #31 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    What ill informed thoughts? Sorry if I used the wrong word made instead of created and said 15 instead of 10 years.
    Believe me, I try to stay as informed as just about anybody.
    But point was made, there were two higher priced licenses about 15 years ago that kept being made until about 10 years ago. Did I get it right this time?

    They were made because they sold. Stern has always done this. Judging by their failures they run 400-500 at a time. If it sells they rerun. Keep doing it until it isn't selling or no longer profitable.

    As for bargain basement licenses they aren't my taste but what license do you want? The number of collectors lining up for 9k le's based on theme seems they are doing it right

    #32 1 year ago

    Totally off the point I was trying to make. Which usually is no point at all except in this case what you are getting for the money.

    Quoted from dung:

    As for bargain basement licenses they aren't my taste but what license do you want?

    I already have a Rick and Morty in my garage, so I'm good. And yes, they used the real creators of the show for both artwork and voices.

    #33 1 year ago
    Quoted from Chet_Hardbody:

    Note: I'm completely new to pinball, so my opinions could be wildly incorrect. Please feel free to tell me I am an idiot.
    As someone who has played pinball casually in arcades and has been looking to get my own pin, the way they are marketed and sold have turned me off a bit. At already almost $6,000 for the entry model for a new Stern, you would think you'd be getting a complete pin. Except if you don't shell out an additional $1,700, you miss out on some features. For example, if you want your damn T-Rex to eat a ball, you better pay for the Jurassic Park (Premium).
    I understand that a lot of sales likely go to arcades, bars, and private businesses, but for the average person this seems pretty anti-consumer. I don't plan on buying a NIB any time soon, with this being part of the reason why.

    Stern makes premiums by design, and then they decide what mechs/gimmicks to take out to lower the price for a pro. They then go back to the premium and change the art, a couple of design items, make a limited number, and call them the LE edition.

    I like having multiple options. As far as which has most value, that is up to the individual. I think it comes down to the main gimmick/toy. If you have to have it, you are in for a premium. If you prefer fewer toys and more flow, the pro is probably your choice. If you must have every single extra...then the LE is the way to go. I suppose it also depends on what features you seek in your pins (toys, light show, art, sound, etc)

    There are several threads covering various pins "value" for each level. I would definitely search those if you have a particular title in mind. As for me, these are high dollar toys anyway, so I don't mind spending the extra for the features. Most often, I feel that the premium is the best choice. Some titles are great as pros (or pros with a few mods), and very few are preferred as LEs for me.

    #34 1 year ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Totally off the point I was trying to make. Which usually is no point at all except in this case what you are getting for the money.

    I already have a Rick and Morty in my garage, so I'm good. And yes, they used the real creators of the show for both artwork and voices.

    Really hard to figure out what your point is when you make comments with wrong information, then claim you are meaning something else after the fact.

    Love it or hate stern sells. It sells well. So while you do not like their themes. Their use of the license. Their often poor voice actors. Its moot because there are plenty of people on here shelling out cash.

    Tell me I'm wrong and let's be done with this diversion.

    #35 1 year ago
    Quoted from dung:

    Really hard to figure out what your point is when you make comments with wrong information, then claim you are meaning something else after the fact.

    Love it or hate stern sells. It sells well. So while you do not like their themes. Their use of the license. Their often poor voice actors. Its moot because there are plenty of people on here shelling out cash.

    Tell me I'm wrong and let's be done with this diversion.

    All I said was you'd probably have to pay more for games from them with quality licenses using the original voices or assets. Then NPO reminded me about a couple games they first made over 15 years ago. Then you reminded me they were still making them 10 years ago. Then piled it on some more.

    But, you sir, are their perfect customer. And in perfect company.

    #36 1 year ago

    I think the folks who created the idea of the tiers were the VCs who bailed out Stern when the Great Recession hit. Before then there was constant debate over who was pinball’s true audience - operators (bars and other places where pinball is played by the public); home game room enthusiasts; and top-end collectors. VCs were horrified to learn Stern was ignoring huge chunks of the market. It’s not a binary choice, after all. VC mentality was to sell as much product as you can, to as many people as you can. The pro/premium/LE tiers were designed for each segment of the market. For eaxmple, cost and maintenance is a huge concern for operators, so the basic level has, as bigehrl says, “less shit to break.” Each successive tier adds more bells and whistles, in an attempt to appeal to each demographic. Actual sales don’t necessarily reflect this nice and neat division, but that was the intent.

    #37 1 year ago

    I don't have a lot to add to this discussion other than stern Pros are easier to keep running, and stern makes machine specific parts for them longer. So if you are worried about cost of ownership at all, Pros are a no-brainer. Probably used if you are cheap like me.

    Stern makes the higher tier games to take more money from the people who have more money to burn on pinball, it seems to work out for them. Usually.

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