I too think Stern has raised prices and made a lot of cost saving moves and have money grabbed quite a bit. I also think they have some awesome games out now and are addressing QC issues. They are also among the cheapest now for pins even with this price increase. A premium is $6700 to your door. Only other competitor that is that cheap is Spooky...who I think is a great company.
I don't agree that any of these machines should cost this much and I do believe the price is killing pinball on location. All the manufacturers are guilty of this and without a serious adjustments pinball will only be profitable in select areas. The bottom line prices are sky high among all the manufacturers. Gary says we must support location pinball to keep pinball relevant then increases prices that hurts operators...doesn't make sense to me. Where is his support for the OP's?
Code has become a issue on some games and the time it takes to get them complete, but they do seem to come through for the most part and lets face it games now are not very simple code wise and take a lot more man hours to program then they once did. Look at all the games that are recent and pretty much code complete now for Stern. I would say the majority are pretty damn good and fun as they sit now. This boils down to the employees that make it happen for Stern and these games.
I do know this though...Stern makes great games that are fun and although I from the sideline think they could do things better in a lot of areas...I think they do a pretty good job and create lots of good games.