I recommend keeping an open mind to the whole virtual scene. I have been playing for 30 years, collecting for 13 now and wish I would have looked at virtual sooner. Is it the same thing? no-nobody said it was. Is it different-yes. Is it getting better and better-yes. Will it ever replace real pinball entirely-no
Here is my story: I had a friend challenge me to help him find a worthy virtual with all the bells and whistles. He had a custom one built but had nothing but troubles and constant crashing in the software. Making the platform synch with all new force feedback, etc. takes a platform that is highly polished and perfected. Searching various vendors I found a nice basic virtual pinball in real cabinet but no feedback, etc. Cost was around $6000-$7000 I believe. I had a bit of sticker shock and was on the fence if I wanted to invest that much into a virtual machine, and if I did I wanted it to feel real with all the bells and whistles(feedback,etc). After looking at more vendors I found one with all the bells and whistles but better yet a software platform that runs everything smoothly(thanks to Panzer). I ended up finding a deal on the Ultra version 5.0 for just over what the basic ones were selling for. Now the new version 120hz 6.0 is $9000+. Is it worth it? Depends on where you are in your current hobby. I have collected tons of games-own tons of games so for me it allowed me to expand my horizons tremendously without taking up any more space. I can now explore 1500 tables in one machine and with the advancements in technology they are getting better and better with emulating the real thing. The new feedback with solenoids is what sold me after playing one in person-virtual machines without feedback did very little for me before(find one and play one-trust me). I have been playing mine everyday for months now and honestly it would be one of the last machines I would sell out of my current collection.
Open your mind to virtual pinball-wish I would have checked it out sooner and not have been so stubborn when it came to giving it a chance.
One of my favorite virtual tables is Attack From Mars-really does a great job emulating the real thing(plus it saves me space not having to buy actual machine)...