A guy I know, a former hobbyist, wanted to get back into pinball and gave me a call a few weeks back. He had been out of the hobby for about 4 or 5 years. He said he had about $1500 - $1700 to spend, and wanted to find an alphanum or DMD game. I rattled off a few titles that I've seen a lot of lately, and filled him in briefly as to the "changes" that have taken place in the hobby. He calls me back a week or so later, saying all he came across in his price range were games he didn't really want, and that he looked around a lot but couldn't believe the prices some of these games were fetching these days. Needless to say, he was disappointed even though he had a modest amount of money to spend, and said that he might revisit picking up a game and getting back into pinball some other time.
This spawned some discussion amongst myself and a few of my pin buds lately, about where the hobby is going, the ridiculous prices of some games these days, flippers and other people that are in this only to make money and could care less about the longevity or survival of the hobby, whether new people can afford to get into pinball, etc...
Remember this story? You see an unbelievably cheap or reasonably-priced decent title on CL or elsewhere. You reach out to the seller – they answer!! You arrive, see the condition and realize you’re getting a fantastical deal…giving yourself a fist bump as you’re getting the tools out of the car. You get the game for the advertised price (or maybe even slightly less), and start disassembly. On the way home, you have a huge grin on your face waiting to get home and set that thing up!!
Yeah, those days are GONE. At least for the most part. Now when you even see a cheap game listed, you might as well bend over and grab the lube, because it's going to get interesting.
Every cheap game comes with it’s own bidding war, or some schlep buys the game to flip it for 3 times the price two days later. I saw guys at Pinfest buy games that they claim they “wanted”, then put a higher pricetag on it and throw them out on the floor a half hour later. The problem is now when that guy sells the game, he is going to want an even higher price.
I understand economics, so I don’t need a lesson. I understand supply and demand. I understand "market value." What I don’t want to understand are the price-gougers and people who just want to make a buck (or several); or those ruining the hobby and preventing newbies with limited funds or some level of reservation to spend serious amounts until they know they like it, from enjoying what we all enjoy every day.
I have owned newer pins…and the oldest and cheapest of EM’s. I have sold many games for a loss…or broke even, many to Pinsiders. I have given games away for free. I have also sold games for a profit, but often marginal. I have no problem with people selling games for what amount they have into them, even if it’s astronomical. That’s just getting your money back, if you can. But the guy or gal that buys a game on the cheap (and most likely took it out from under somebody else who actually wanted that particular game), puts rubbers and a few LED’s in, then sells it a week later for triple the price…that just doesn’t help the hobby in my opinion. I mean there are people listing slightly used NIB games for more than retailers are selling them for still in the box, mods or not. WTH is going on? Pretty soon, the only game you will be able to buy for under $1,000 will be a player's condition EM. A game with an electronic operating system...forget it.
I realize topics like this can turn into shitshows...but hopefully not. I was trying to see what other people on here thought...realistically. There are still deals out there to be had, but let's be honest...they are very few and far between anymore.