here's my take on Expo...
Security. i much prefer the "pacak security" to the rent-a-cop people there this year. They were unknowing, and frankly, weird. Having people with guns and tasers at the doors was just strange, if not un-nerving. I miss richard and the guy that manned the free-play room. That situation with the groupon guy would have never happened with the old crew (that had been doing this for 20 years.)
Games. The free play room really wasn't any different this year. About the same amount of crap/broken games (25% i would say). Some people really make an effort, some clearly don't. A lot of the junk/broken games were Berk's. He did have some nice games (that row with Spirit), but they were not in the free play area (in the vendor room.) We counted 170 pinballs in both free-play rooms. If you take out the 60 that berk brought, the numbers were about the same as in prior years. Not having Pacak there really didn't seem to effect the free-play area numbers. I guess it made Berk step up, but i'm not entirely sure that really helped. Making Butterfly Girl move her games FOUR TIMES probably didn't help things either.
Vendor hall. A LOT of really nice games there. American Pinball should be thanked, did they have like 20 of their games in there?? (Oktoberfest was pretty damn cool too.) You couldn't play all the vendor games, but the presence was really nice. As for vendors i didn't really see a big change there. Maybe a little. The ball bowler guys was a nice touch. (I do think that was Berk's game for the ball bowler contest, and St.Louis ball bowler did bring the other 2 games... just a hunch.) Mayfair came because the timing worked out with York show and he got to stay with Chance in Detroit and then drive to Chicago. Good to see him, it's been a long time since he was at this show. All the custom home-brew guys were moved out of the vender hall and into the video game hall. which brings up...
Video games. I'm sorry, i don't get this. It's a pinball show, not a video game show. Admittedly, i'm not a video guy. But if you removed all the video games and moved the home brew guys back into the vendor hall, that room would have been totally un-necessary. I tried to play a few video games, but they just piss me off.
Home Brews. Pretty cool stuff. Hot Rods and Nightmare and Archer were my favs. Archer went down though, and didn't seem to come back up for a long time. The Nightmare game was well done, as was Hot Rods
Seminars. I usually go to these, but not this year. I tried to view a few, and was just bored to tears. I think with the audio downloads the seminars have become a lot less important. So that was probably not a big deal to miss. I will check Pinball News and download. I bet they are better when i'm driving in the car opposed to sitting in the room.
Tournament. I helped a bit with this. I like that ipad tourney system. People seemed to like the game selection. A lot of smiles there. Trent seems to do a nice job with that.
Pinball Life friday. Very nice as always. I like the ticket format done this year and last. Otherwise it's way over crowded. A very nice event. Just wish it was closer to the show.
Summary. Overall i didn't see any big changes to the show this year. It's Pinball Expo, it's a nice show, as always. Little things different, but pretty much the same expo. The lack of Pacak made it feel different. Not better or worse, just different. Some people had problems with him. Personally i never did. So others may have a different opinion of that situation. I missed the guy. The show was more boring without him. And i miss Richard and that old guy that did the free play room.