(Topic ID: 59251)

What has caused the resurgence of pinball?


By rustybomber79

6 years ago



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    #1 6 years ago

    Hello All,
    I am new to the hobby and have been hanging out on Pinside taking it all in. I have seen alot of forums about how prices have jumped and that the hobby is experiencing a "bubble". I am not trying to start another discussion complaining about high prices.

    What I am wondering what has caused the bubble of interest in the hobby?

    Is it that Stern and JJP are making such cool games people are taking notice? (just an example, not tooting sterns/jjp horn or putting them down)
    Is it that more local tournaments are showing up?
    Pure nostalgia?
    A bunch of rich people with "too much bloody money"?
    Some weird shift in culture?

    What do you guys think could be causing it?

    21
    #2 6 years ago

    People that grew up playing pinball now have disposable income to buy these machines. My opinion.

    #3 6 years ago

    one werd...... TRON

    tron_1982_rare_still_by_kriegdersterne.jpg

    14
    #4 6 years ago

    Virtual pinball.

    #5 6 years ago

    Good idea for a thread rustybomber79. I personally re-discovered pinball in 2012 (although I did actually play in a tournament in San Francisco a year before that) but what re-kindled it for me was playing in a tournament and realizing lots of other people were actually into it. When I played in that tournament in Portland in 2012 I realized pinball had strategy and skill. The Inner Mission Pinball tournament I did earlier was only on one machine and I lucked into third place just because, but in Portland I learned more about pinball.

    Then when I got back to SF and joined up for another casual tournament that Jonny O put on, I met really cool folks who helped me learn pinball more and that's what really hooked me. Sure the games currently out are good, but I figure most random folks who come across pinball and get hooked are just playing whatever is around and that oftentimes is something from the 90s. Anyhow, I'm glad for the resurgence and meeting cool pinball folks and having lots of places and machines to play

    #6 6 years ago

    I think abso nailed it. Plus, there is now pinball available for video games and smartphones, so that is capturing the interest of many in the next generation as well.

    #7 6 years ago

    The Documentary "Special When Lit" is what did it for me. Good Thread

    #8 6 years ago

    I think the combination of people having more disposable income that grew up with pinball, coupled with the need for having something unique that they can call "their own" has led to the boom. Pinball helps to give people that feeling of having a unique identity and an individualized experience. It isn't a $2 app you can put on your iPhone to be just like everyone else. Nor is it formulaic in that you just keep pressing the same 2 or 3 button combo to master the game. People are burnt out on cookie cutter games and looking for something new and that presents an individual experience - and pinball brings that to them. Just my 2 cents

    #9 6 years ago

    Very good point, Once I got interested in pinball again one of the first things I did was get a hold of some pinball games on the Xbox. It really helped boost my interest.

    #10 6 years ago

    I dont know if I would say there is a full on resurgence. The numbers are still relatively tiny compared to the 90's. Perhaps re-awakening is a better description, but that's just semantics.

    I agree with the previous suggestions as to what is keeping pinball going now. Also, if people want to play, they typically don't have the option of readily available machines in the wild.

    Further, there has been increased availability of repro parts, especially for 90's era machines, making them fully restorable. That with the readily available info on collecting/fixing/playing online.

    Also, people who have access to the funds are willing to buy machines knowing they hold their value and in some cases might appreciate.

    Since the industry has recognized that the consumer market represents a significant chunk of their clientele (finally), they are ramped/ramping up to meet demand. Knowing that resale and collectibility are essential to keeping the consumer market going, LE type machines in limited volume is intended to facilitate this. Boutique pins is a byproduct of a lower volume higher resale/collectibility market.

    Incidentally, the age of the average pinball collector who is established financially enough to support the new machine market is such that they remember the rise of the Web in the mid 90's, have gotten over onlline gaming and entertainment from a novelty perspective and want to go back to something with real physics (and tech). In fact I believe the internet is partially to blame for killing pinball in the day.

    A line of flashing complex looking pinballs is impressive to show off! It sets you apart from most people, who's interests might not be as fun to share.

    That is my take on things.

    #11 6 years ago

    I think the popularity of high-quality digital pinball has something to do with it.

    Nostalgia certainly helps, but most of people I see playing in bars nowadays didn't grow up with pinball.

    #12 6 years ago
    Quoted from Rustyck:

    I think the combination of people having more disposable income that grew up with pinball, coupled with the need for having something unique that they can call "their own" has led to the boom. Pinball helps to give people that feeling of having a unique identity and an individualized experience. It isn't a $2 app you can put on your iPhone to be just like everyone else. Nor is it formulaic in that you just keep pressing the same 2 or 3 button combo to master the game. People are burnt out on cookie cutter games and looking for something new and that presents an individual experience - and pinball brings that to them. Just my 2 cents

    Great point, this was also it for me. I'm kinda old so I think us older folks like that analog feel. Retro stuff is sorta cool too and the mechanical feel and randomness of pinball is really appealing to me. When I was a kid, I did play a lot of video games but when Dragon's Lair came out, although I learned to finish it, I also realized it was just memorization and not skill that got you better at it (well, I guess the video mode on Star Trek the Next Generation is also memorization, doh!)

    #13 6 years ago

    I would definitely say that Zen Pinball and Pinball Arcade helped demystify the games a bit for a lot of younger players (I include myself in this). I wouldn't say that they're solely responsible, but I've been at barcades and such and heard people remark "Oh, I've played this one before on my phone!" before running off to play a game.

    #14 6 years ago

    As much as I hate to say it, yea...Pinball Arcade has done a ton. I had some contractors doing work on my HVAC last year. One of them was in my gameroom, saw my CV and commented how he loves to play it on his iPad...where else can you take a game that sells for $7k (don't quote me!) and play it any time you want for $5?

    I wouldn't necessarily call it a resurgence though. A shift in price, or a lack of further decline maybe.

    #15 6 years ago

    The following have influenced the current pinball market.

    the death of the arcade and arcade games (many reasons)

    the internet in regards to information availability and wide visibility (sales, info, marketing, availability)

    age bracket of buyers and expendable income - this could be considered a bubble or natural cycle that could decline.

    major decline of other gaming/electronic entertainment mainstream and non-mainstream collectibles in value and demand

    no or poor substitute. Pinball machines are physical mechanical devices and can't be virtualized for the same experience.

    #16 6 years ago

    Those of us that loved pinball growing up have our big kid jobs now, and can afford to have pinball games of our own.

    #17 6 years ago

    Pinball is pretty much dead on location everywhere still, except certain cities. Pinball on the internet and homes is alive and thriving though it seems...

    #18 6 years ago
    Quoted from absocountry2:

    People that grew up playing pinball now have disposable income to buy these machines. My opinion.

    yep.. I agree.

    This "retro" thing happens in regular cycles. Certain cars become popular again. Certain music, etc.

    People want to re-create joyful moments from their youth.

    11
    #19 6 years ago

    It was me, guys.

    #20 6 years ago

    Yeah, I agree with people growing up and remember what they wanted as a kid and can now afford. I also think that retro things in general are kinda hot. Maybe to have something that not everyone has (Xbox for example) is a cool thing. Further on I think the pinball games for video games is another reason contributing to it. All of these are contributing. However it's still strange that it popped up right now. Maybe eBay and the Internet is the biggest reason. I wonder if its the same with other things like old cars or old guitars? When you actually can buy from a World Wide Web of ads. People also need money so if they have some old machines they try to sell them and find that they can actually make some money on it. Don't know the answer but some thoughts.

    I thing that it will be over in a couple of years. Many guys and gals I think buy a machine or two to put in their fancy home but that they will loose interest in it sooner or later. Not every one is a collector kind of person. Would be interesting to know if many machines at sold to unique owners or if there are fewer people buying like 10 machines each. =)

    Andy

    #21 6 years ago

    I did it!, Blame me... 4 years ago when I got the fever and bought up everything in sight. Damn, little did I know I be ruining it for the hobby.

    #22 6 years ago

    I do think pinball on the iPad and phones have gotten more people interested in our hobby.

    #23 6 years ago

    By the way I hope some day someone will do remakes of the old machines! Not so hot for collectors but would still be extremely nice to be able to buy them to play or to see them on location again. Like brand new AFMs, TAFs, and so on. With modern and smaller tech inside but still the same game.

    Someone, go buy the licenses and start building!

    #24 6 years ago

    Craigslist.

    #25 6 years ago

    All I can say is that for me, and the half dozen friends I've taken with me on the ride into pinball fandom, it's all down to Farsight's Pinball Arcade game.

    We'd all played virtual pinball for years. Since video games began there have been video game versions of pinball. But it was only recently that Farsight nailed the recreation of real tables and made the game accessible on almost every platform known to man.

    Until I played Farsight's TOTAN, I had never really played pinball and had no idea how amazing it really was. It was a revelation.

    Pinball has always been brilliant on it's own merits. It's the realisation of that fact that creates fans, and realisation can come in many ways. I would argue that location play is the least likely to provide that. 'Free play' is key.

    #26 6 years ago

    Yes, don't forget the power of the Internet. It's how most of us hear about and find pins, learn repair techniques, locate parts, meet up with other owners, etc. Without the Web, little if any of this would be happening.

    #27 6 years ago

    A resurgence, or a shifting of how and where, what is left is played ?

    LTG : )

    #28 6 years ago

    People are realizing they just don't make machines anymore so basically a supply/demand thing as far as prices. (Stern & JJP making 5,000 to 10,000 machines a year is a drop in the bucket compared to 100,000 to 250,000 machines a year being made in the 1950's through the 1990's).

    As far as why demand is up to begin with I think the online stuff has had a big influence on that.

    Bottom line is less machines coming from operators, more collectors, more interest in the hobby, etc all add up to higher prices on machines.

    #29 6 years ago

    I am pretty sure it was the thread I started on The Big Lebowski pinball machine. When I started taking those pretend preorders, things just started poppin'.

    All this interest is just a warm up for TBL LE roll out one day....

    #30 6 years ago

    pinsiders and hobbiest

    #31 6 years ago

    For me it was the Williams Hall of Fame for the PS3. Made me remember how much I enjoyed it when I was younger.

    #32 6 years ago

    is there really a "resurgence"? or just the same group of people selling the same group of machines back and forth amoungst themselves (and buying whatever new machine stern/jjp come out with)?

    if there was truly a resurgence, i would expect to see a lot more games on location...

    yea, there's a few "new" people in the hobby, but it's still a tiny tiny number of people in the grand scheme of things...

    #34 6 years ago

    Gotta wonder if there really a "resurgence" of pinball among the general population, or just among collectors.

    The collector market definitely helps the manufacturers, but are the ops seeing numbers improving too? Aside from some specialized places I don't see any more machines out in the wild now compared to a few years ago.

    #35 6 years ago

    I always had a vid or two.. and never thought much of pinball. It started with me when a co-worker said you should get a pinball Alien Poker did it.

    #36 6 years ago
    Quoted from cireone:

    For me it was the Williams Hall of Fame for the PS3. Made me remember how much I enjoyed it when I was younger.

    Me three. Played that one and couldn't believe how fun it was. Started looking for a real one, and here I am about to purchase my ninth game. Unreal.

    #37 6 years ago
    Quoted from ccotenj:

    is there really a "resurgence"? or just the same group of people selling the same group of machines back and forth amoungst themselves (and buying whatever new machine stern/jjp come out with)?
    if there was truly a resurgence, i would expect to see a lot more games on location...
    yea, there's a few "new" people in the hobby, but it's still a tiny tiny number of people in the grand scheme of things...

    I am seeing tons more machines on location here but maybe San Francisco is different. Of course lots of trends do start on the coasts and I know Portland, Seattle and NYC have strong scenes. Maybe it'll filter into the rest of the country too? I know where my parents live there's nothing!

    #38 6 years ago

    HS in the 80s, TAFT in 90s, jjp 2 years ago.

    #39 6 years ago

    There do appear to be a significant number of new buyers. See http://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/when-did-you-buy-your-first-pinball-machine-a-poll.

    #40 6 years ago

    yo mama !

    #41 6 years ago

    I was always a vid game guy. Even in the Arcade/80's days I preferred video games over pins. I've owned 3 video games for decades (Asteroids, Robotron and Joust). Then it happened-- I went to CA Extreme last year and played a few pins and fell in love with a Firepower that was decked out with a sub. That's when the pin bug bit me. Within a month I tracked down a Firepower in LA and picked it up...learned a ton fixing it up; board work, LED's etc. I now have 11 in the house. I feel naked if I don't always have a project pin to work on. I have 3 lined up to be finished, but I love it. A very addictive hobby indeed.

    Mike

    #43 6 years ago
    Quoted from Atomicboy:

    HS in the 80s, TAFT in 90s, jjp 2 years ago.

    HS in the 80s, STTNG in the 90s, AC/DC last year

    Each of these are improvements over the previous generation. I think that is why it is so popular right now. You can buy good older machines, and even better new ones. I am not only excited to see what comes out next year; I am excited to see what we will be playing 10 years from now.

    #44 6 years ago

    Yecccch! Please say it ain't so.

    #45 6 years ago
    Quoted from jar155:

    It was me, guys.

    Lol. Good one.

    #46 6 years ago
    Quoted from Nexyss:

    HS in the 80s, STTNG in the 90s, AC/DC last year

    STTNG and not TAF? Over 20,000 machines and highest selling machne ever to 11,500 roughly? hmm

    As for ACDC, the Stern game got up'd by JJP well before ACDC, look at how popular FH2 was for example.

    #47 6 years ago

    Texas Hold Em & the economy....
    Hear me out....The popularity of Hold Em has people playing cards in their basements/homes now more than ever. Having friends over more & more made me want to build up my "Man cave". Once I got the pooltable & TV, I thought what else would be cool? I thought a pinball machine might be cool...I found a Gottleib Spider Man & was hooked from there. The fun part is getting others into it. We had a couple over the other night who has played a few times & is enjoying it & getting good enough that I was telling them what shots they want to try & hit...They were like there are RULES to the game? Besides just keeping the ball on the playfield?

    The enonomy: when it tanked, people focused more on keeping things close to home, no expensive vacations ect...But they still wanted to have entertainment...Well here comes Stern at the right time with cool themes & a business plan geared right for them..

    #48 6 years ago

    somehow, saying "the economy tanked, so people are going out and dropping $6k on a toy" hardly makes sense to me...

    #49 6 years ago

    OK, OK "resurgence" was a bit strong, I should have just said surge or up swing or bump.....

    Anyways I am enjoying the responses. I think the virtual games are probably a bigger factor than I thought, but I was afraid it would be hipsters.

    #50 6 years ago
    Quoted from ccotenj:

    somehow, saying "the economy tanked, so people are going out and dropping $6k on a toy" hardly makes sense to me...

    Good point...But the prices are only recently are that high, if you go back to when the economy was really in the tank, what were they? 3G NIB? No LE's..People would blow more than that on a vacation & have nothing but a memory at the end..

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