Apparently its Friday because I was just sitting here thinking about how stressful/difficult it must be for guys like Gary, Jack and others leading pinball manufacturing companies. With sales trending increasingly towards more home ownership purchases, there is so much emotion involved in the purchasing of a new pinball machine these days.
It seems like public perception of the "hot" manufacturer can change in the matter of a few hours. I'm sure some will disagree, but it feels like just a few weeks ago the general consensus was that Stern's quick production/release model was losing steam with undeveloped code (GOTG,BM66), unpopular/uninspired art on massive licenses (Star Wars), having nothing to new to put on display at the biggest shows, etc. Felt like JJP was taking a big step towards gaining market share (and possibly control) with the unique and creative features of POTC and the traction it gained at the big shows.
So, all this is going on and in the background, you have Gary holding his Iron Maiden card and not being able to say a thing and Jack having to know that POTC has some major design challenges that need to be changed. In complete contrast to recent history, Maiden drops to smashing reviews with developed code, sick art and a refreshingly unique layout. Poor Eric is thrown to wolves on POTC "tweaks." All the while both have to be shaking their heads at the popularity of TNA and Spooky running with Scott's design.
This is NOT a JJP vs. Stern debate. It's simply an observation that this is a pretty unique competitive landscape and that I'm damn glad I'm not the guy running either of these companies....wow. Lot's of respect for them all and fingers crossed that the market is big enough to support all of them for a long time to come.
In 5 years time, how do you think this all plays out?