(Topic ID: 172062)

Pinball, both as a hobby and an investment!

By Davidus56

3 years ago

Topic Stats

  • 15 posts
  • 12 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 years ago by atwong
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider


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    #1 3 years ago

    Many affluent people diversify their investments in physical assets such as art, exotic cars, gold and even bitcoin. I do not appreciate art and really can't afford exotic cars, but I can afford pinball machines. I have sold several pins for what I paid for them and in two instances, sold at a tidy profit. If you have well maintained 'A' titles, I believe pinball is a hobby you can enjoy and, at least, not lose money on. Many lament the high price of pins. I get it and I'm not happy about it. I would like to buy a Dialed In, but it sounds like it will be out of my price range, unless I get rid of some of my beloved titles.

    Perhaps we should be happy about the high price of used pins. It means that they will not depreciate to zero like most technology. If the industry were to promote pinball as a hobby you can love and profit from (or at least break even), I bet there would be more players attracted to the hobby.

    My only problem is my second story garage floor is about to collapse from the weight of my pins. It really is dangerous at this point. I'm building a barn to put all of these games in. Then the question is, can I somehow charge an annual membership or some similar strategy to recoup some of the massive investment I've made. Since retirement, I've gotten a bit carried away and now my wife is giving me the third degree over my hobby. But what if I could show a profit....?

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    #2 3 years ago

    Show a profit to your wife (hobby business)

    Show a loss to the IRS (hobby business)

    Cook 2 books & don't confuse em

    #3 3 years ago

    While I don't see buying pinball games as an investment, I do see it as recoverable income. I spent X amount on pinball games and hope to get Y amount later if I need the funds or want to trade.

    #4 3 years ago

    If I ever listed my pins in my Asset category i would also have to list what I've spent to keep them running/bling them out.

    Then I would be sad.

    #5 3 years ago

    I think you can afford an exotic car really.

    #6 3 years ago

    Living on the coast, I have a few friends that have boats. $500 a month payment plus insurance, they use it about 4 times a year, and those boats go down in value every year. I will take pinball machines any day over that. Plus it only takes me a minute to start using it. Walk over and turn it on.

    Will I make money on my pinball machines? Most likely a bit, but how many other hobbies out their are just a hole you through money in and never get back?

    #7 3 years ago

    I am new to the hobby. 6 months in but ive bought 2 NIB machines. TWD pro and Rob Zombie. And coming from the modding cars hobby. Which i pretty much let go. This is by far the most recoverable income hobby, ive ever been a part of. I dont feel so bad buying pins. The market seems good currently and if needed it seems these assests can turn over quickly. Im pretty much addicted already. My next house will have to have a dedicated pinball area!!

    And btw to the OP. If your garage has 2 floors one. and if its also filled with a awesome collection like that. i think you may be able to afford at least an entry model Exotic.

    #8 3 years ago

    I think charging your friends to play your games is a great idea

    #10 3 years ago

    I don't see charging friends. I suppose I need to open an arcade and try and get my son to manage... on second thought, nah...

    #11 3 years ago

    Pinball machines have a value, but I think the current going price is far above their actual intrinsic value. If you really looked at it as an "investment", now may be a good time to sell out.

    There are a lot of things on the horizon that make investing in pinball (at least heavily) a rather poor strategy..

    1. The average age of those interested in pinball.

    I'm sure people can come up with some anecdotal to the contrary, but overall this is a hobby for those that grew up with arcades. The younger generations have an affinity for minimalism - expecting that the supply of pinball machines available will hold its value when the youth will be in a position to buy seems like a pretty lofty expectation.

    2. Virtual pinball

    Stern is even realizing that this is a market that they may want to be in. If they start releasing their games to VR at the same time and a significantly reduced cost as their physical tables, how long before the experience is good enough that people start to opt for the VR experience? I was interested in VR, but skeptical. My first real interaction with it was at Expo this year. It was much better than I expected, but it still has a ways to go.

    3. Externalities

    Things outside the hobby could easily have a dismal effect on the value of our heavy blinky boxes. If the price of water rises to what other countries like Germany see, or we see large spikes in unemployment - how many people are going to be seeking out a luxury toy the size of a sofa and the price of a small car?


    The price people are willing to pay for pinball seems to be going up for now, but the buzz has been that people are fed up with the prices. That may get people to seek out lower priced used games for a while, but as those prices inevitably rise - people may seek alternative forms of entertainment, especially as technology enhances the virtual experience.

    I wonder how many people will opt to buy the real boxes that need maintenance for the tactile feedback, when there's a virtual alternative that takes practically zero space, zero maintenance, and costs thousands upon thousands less? I'm not willing to gamble "investment" money on that. Everything I have into pinball I consider to be expendable. I would certainly hope that they retain their value, but I wouldn't stake my future on it.

    #12 3 years ago

    I agree. I didn't say it was a good investment...

    If my heirs get back 50 cents on the dollar, then it won't be such a bad thing.

    #13 3 years ago

    I've done the Roi and you can earn money by routing and then selling in 3 years. I'll send the screenshots when I'm at my laptop.

    #14 3 years ago
    Quoted from atwong:

    I've done the Roi and you can earn money by routing and then selling in 3 years. I'll send the screenshots when I'm at my laptop.

    That's the best way to make money with pinball. I've double my money in 3 years routing. It maybe not be a lot of money but has doubled!

    #15 3 years ago


    Generally, the ROI is worse when you go longer to 10 years. My assumptions is that:

    - $1k per year for the care and upkeep (your time, mileage, parts etc etc)
    - $5k to acquire a Stern Pro and you can get all your money back (Stern raises prices each year)
    - Pin makes an average of $32 a week which is a little less than industry average. http://www.playmeter.com/images/SofIpg07.pdf

    Of course your milage may vary due to splits.

    So 3 year ROI is 16%. Not bad and not horrible. Better than bonds, SP500 and it's cash based.

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