Yea, I have sympathies for the OP. All things are relative. Apologize if this rant seems too long.
We have many new local friends who want to get into the hobby. They either come over or see the wife's Facebook pics of the basement. After they express interest in picking up a game, I preface all the following conversations with something that basically goes like this:
"Well, if I were you, I would not get into this hobby. I got into it when things were affordable. It is no longer affordable".
Part of the disclaimer is a sincere attempt to soften the blow for when the inevitable questions about prices start, but the other part is to save face and prevent them from thinking I actually paid these prices for my games. And I started out paying retail because I didn't know any better. And those titles are now over double what I paid. To normal people these prices are crazy. Or at least they should be.
There are currently 14 machines in the basement, and I am out of room. The most recent purchases were MBrLE and Alice Cooper. Alice was not expensive at all when compared to what is going on now. After prices went to ludicrous I filled out the remaining space with a few sit down arcade racing machines, and briefly looked at picking up a big ball bowler and still would if the right one showed up locally. Inflation has made shipping arcades prohibitive for me.
Its actually pretty nice to be out of room at these prices, in a roundabout way it satisfies the itch to get more. I don't intend on selling any of them to mix it up, I couldn't choose what to let go and could not reacquire many of them at these prices. We are lucky to live in an area with alot of pins on location and we get to play all the new titles. We are 20 minutes away from the VFW museum, we have Marvin's museum, and a few other places.
Before these prices, I was looking at building out under the deck to add more space, doing that could more than double the available space for pins. At least an addition would serve to increase the value of the house even if it remains empty. Or I can just spread everything out a bit. Hopefully I can take advantage of cheaper prices someday. The wish-list is really not that long, consisting of mainly 90s B/W titles. I enjoy the new sterns but they seem too cheaply built for the money. And I think the Pro model shouldn't exist. The Premium should be the standard like in the old days, there was one model and it was loaded. If operators want to turn off features that lead to excessive maintenance, that should be easy. Stop charging me extra for what used to be there from the get go, I hate that crap.
But I don't think prices will go down significantly, if ever. But it did happen briefly with the CGC remakes, so it can happen again. So I remain hopeful. If this insanity continues, I'm ok to just keep what I have and remain out of this market indefinitely. You reach a point where its not whether or not you can afford it, its just what else you can get for that much money.
Speaking of remakes, Whitewater and TOTAN need to be remade, because they are on the wish-list and have gotten totally out of hand. And they can remake- the remakes of AFM and MM again for the same reason. Went to Oakland expo around 2009, beautiful WH20 with invisiglass for $3.5k. AFM wasn't much more. If only I knew to bring money, it was our first pinball expo. It would have been worth a 2nd mortgage to load up everything that was there.