I honestly thought that Stern may have turned the corner with the success of ACDC and they may have realised what is needed to make a machine a winner. It seems they may be too arrogant to stand back, take stock and say, "we raised the bar and now we need to continue at that level or raise it again." Metallica should be their perfect opportunity to step up another level but........all sort of seems lost now doesn't it.
Stern could have demolished the other manufacturers and continued riding the wave of success. Whether it is ignorance or arrogance on Stern's part to think they can continue with their current business model, it is pretty clear they have lost alot of support and will have to start from scratch again giving the other guys a huge leg up.
As others have said, take away ACDC and maybe Tron and there isn't much competition there for the other manufacturers. Machines like The Avengers and Transformers should have been major titles, the themes alone were superb but sure as shit, Stern stuffed it up and produced duds. I was really hoping that ACDC would have raised enough income for Stern to go all out and produce consistently better machines. Metallica should have been another huge machine for them and for now, it is nothing but the lack of updated code that will more than likely be the machine's undoing, not the theme, not the artwork and not the playfield/game play as it should be.
There you go, my 2c worth. Would I buy a NIB machine. No, not unless it was tried tested and proven to be a completed machine worth spending my hard earned on. With Stern that would mean it would have to have been in production for 18 months or more the way they release code updates.