Quoted from Rarehero:
I own 7 Stern games. Games I consider KEEPERS cuz they're THAT good. I've owned lots of others that I still like, even though I've let them go. I was defending Stern and their games since '06 or so. Most pinball hobbyists and collectors HATED Stern and shunned them...to them, only Bally Williams were worth playing/owning. Stern has made some great games...but I have the perspective of a decade in the hobby to see where Stern was back then and where they are now. They were making full featured games with GOOD and either complete or relatively complete code for less than $4k. Updates came quick when there were bugs. Prices rose, but I understood and respected their Pro/Prem/LE business plan. I was OK with buying an LE like Metallica...it was $800 more than the Premium, and that seemed reasonable for the value you got with that version. Prices kept going up after that, but the games were getting more stripped down in quality.
Here's why I bag on Stern so much now...for me, 2016 was the breaking point. I was super excited for Ghostbusters, and put in an order on the Premium, and then we had "insert gate". My game was delayed because of the insert issue, and in the meantime - I actually went out and played the Pro...and just absolutely hated it. Couldn't believe how terrible it was designed and how awful the code was. I stuck with my order since I loved the theme so much and was told the ghosting issue would be solved by the time the Premiums were ready. I played 2 brand new Premiums that both had ghosting within days of being opened...so, not only was the ghosting fix a lie, I still hated the game. I finally cancelled my order...cuz why would I buy a game I not only hate, but basically falls apart when you open it? So - there was that - THEN - the absolute ARROGANCE and GREED of the Batman '66 situation. $15,000 for a STERN!?!?!?!? Right after GB showed they cheaped out on quality playfields!??!?!?! Then it comes out with pre-prototype code and is STILL unfinished almost a year later.
Then we had splitting cabinets, node board issues, reset issues, bare-bones Star Wars, more goofy code....
This is why I'm not into Stern right now. Prices up, quality and fun factor down. Simple. If they ever get their shit back together, I'd consider being a customer again...right now? No F'ing way. ...and, once again - me not buying product I don't like doesn't mean I'm "destroying the hobby". I'm having much more fun with $60 Nintendo Switch games, and that's given me even more perspective about how insane it is to spend $8000 on a GAME.
Interesting post. I tend to share your views except that I never was a NIB stern customer and I do not care about the LE concept. So I feel less passion... but even to me, the BM66 affair seemed like a giant slap in the face of Stern consumers.
I tend to like Stern games though. I sincerely thank Gary Stern for having kept the Hobby alive during the darkest hours. I would not mind adding TSPP, WoF, TWD, ACDC, Mustang, Kiss or Met to my lineup.
Until recently I was a buyer on the secondary market - I don't mind waiting 2yr+ to get a game. Code would be finished and I would have had enough games on the model to know whether it's a keeper or not.
Except a SW Pro is priced around 6500 euros here (sales tax included). Meaning we should see the first HUO games on the secondary market in the 5500 - 6000 euros range. In my eyes, this is still way too much for what you get. So I am now also out of the secondary market... and I am probably not the only one. Meaning it won't be easy to resell a SW pro after a year without taking a very significant loss - 1000 euros or more.
Then, the only motivation to pay 5500 euros for a second hand recent Stern Pro is if NIB prices keep climbing. It (kind of) makes sense to pay 5500 for an HUO machine if NIB Stern pro are priced 7000+ euros in 2018-2019. Except the tide has changed, and Stern probably/hopefully realizes the market has reached a breaking point. Stern cannot raise its prices anymore... can it!?
Not saying I am not a NIB buyer - I afforded a few NIB game in the past.
Did that to support people in whom I believed (Scott for WOOLY, Antonio for Quetzal Nemo). Might buy either TNA or Houdini in 2018. But definitively not a NIB Stern.
Meanwhile, I bought a Zaccaria Blackbelt for $400. Had to ad $100 to make it functional, and I now have a full featured game with a balanced and intuitive ruleset, scoring I can parametrize by choosing between different awards for 3 different Specials...