(Topic ID: 245752)

Who is playing pinball has changed drastically since I was playing


By Pecos

7 months ago



Topic Stats

  • 21 posts
  • 15 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 months ago by LTG
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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    #1 7 months ago

    I have been operating pins long enough to see some modern day trends that are very different than when I was a teenager in the 1970s. Perhaps these trends are obvious to you, but they weren't to me until just recently. The age and kind of people playing pinball today is very different than it was when I was growing up.

    It was male teenagers who played pinball in the 70s, no girls, no older guys, just teenage boys. And the games of that time reflect the interests of those who played. Have you ever wondered why a lot of EM pinball machines have beautiful, voluptuous women on the backglass? The pinball manufacturers were catering to their genre of players.

    I operate vintage pinball machines in Tucson, Arizona, the kind of pins that I grew up playing. One of my first clients, the Spotted Bull, wanted some machines and they wanted them in the bar/dining area of the restaurant. The bar-goers avoided them like the plague! No beer was ever spilled on one of my games because no one drinking beer was playing pinball. The Spotted Bull was out in the country, right next to I-10 on the southeast side of Tucson near Vail, Arizona. They got a lot of country types and a lot of bikers. The occasional trucker would stop in for a brewski. But none of them played pinball!

    This surprised me since I thought that my vintage games would attract Boomers who were nostalgic about their pinball playing days and would want to play the same games again. More surprise came when I found that my best customers were kids 4-10 years old, and their parents. Dad and even Mom were eager to help junior and little sis learn to play pinball.

    Sometimes I get the impression that Boomers are above and beyond playing pinball. They seem to enjoy playing pinball when I offer free games, but I won't be in business long with that type of business model! "Why aren't adults playing pinball in Tucson, Arizona" is the question I keep asking myself. Is it a pride thing? Pinball is for kids only? Don't get me wrong, I do get some adults playing my games, but nowhere near what I thought I would get.

    Pinball manufacturers have been building pins with themes that are targeted to nostalgic Boomers. Games with rock themes like Aerosmith, AC/DC and Metallica are what are available NIB. TV and Movie themes like Star Wars, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the Batman movies and TV show, Wizard of Oz, Game of Thrones, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, The Walking Dead and so many more dominate the modern day pinball themes. Clearly, they are targeting those with money who want to buy these games for their home collection.

    This is a dramatic change from the 1970s when it was the operators and not the collectors who were buying the new pinball machines. However, if pinball is every going to make a lasting come-back, it is the general public, in particular the kids who should be catered to. They are the new generation of pinball players and the pinball manufacturers appear to be missing this new marketplace.

    As an operator, if I could afford it, I would be looking for new pinball machines with themes targeted towards kids. Ghostbusters and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory would be okay, but I am looking for themes that the 4-10 year old's of 2019 would be interested in. I am too far away from children in that age group to know what they would be interested in, but Metallica and The Walking Dead are not them. I have a Future Spa and Hardbody, both fun games, that I can't route because nobody wants them. My clients want family-themed games.

    I would like to know if other operators are seeing their clients interested in more family-themed games or is my experience in Tucson unique?

    Let's not go crazy and start making 'My Little Pony' or 'Hello Kitty' pinball machines, but there must be some themes out there that 4-10 year old kids would be drawn to. To show you how out-of touch I am, I thought those two were 'My Favorite Pony' and 'Pretty Kitty.' Yeesh! Do I ever feel old and it's not getting any better!

    Yes, a lot has changed since the days when I was playing brand new pinball machines in Aladdin's Castle, The University of Arizona Student Union and Fool Around. Pinball will never be great again until operators get in the game and make pinball accessible to the public, once more.

    #2 7 months ago

    For its size, Tucson is (honestly) a terrible pinball town. I have a friend who operates in a town of 20-40k and gets as many or more players at events than I do at mine. We have a metro population of about 1 million.

    I look at places with great pinball culture, and while I know it didn’t happen overnight, they seem to have a vibe similar to the laid back Tucson mentality.

    Keep fighting and maybe some day...

    11
    #3 7 months ago

    4-10 year olds prefer 5 second redemption games over pinball, by about a billion percent.

    #4 7 months ago

    Here, at least in Switzerland, majority is between 35 to 60.
    For lors of people it brings back to the youth, often when doing the military. For me it was dot matrix games, for others SS or EM...
    A few youngsters but that is a minority.

    #5 7 months ago

    Operating games is definitely an uphill battle. Games do better at different locations for different reasons. There are plenty of folks that will tell you that theme matters. Sometimes. Star Wars definitely gets played more because it's Star Wars. However, AFM, MM, MB, WH20, TOM, TOTAN all earn like CRAZY despite the fact that they aren't even licensed games (speaking from experience).

    Some people then point to the molded plastics and physical mechs that are less common in new Sterns as to why those games don't compare. However, JJP games have these things and struggle to earn equal to almost any Stern game in my experience. But then you can say that Stern has better layouts, or art, or callouts, or whatever and THAT'S the reason they earn more than a JJP. But again, the best of all on location are the 90s Bally/Williams games. Even with teenagers or kids who don't recognize the license (or lack thereof) and weren't even around arcades playing these games new. It has to do with the magic of having a game that is great in many areas (art, sound, lights, toys, dots) and mixed with a simple ruleset.

    I think that ultimately it's not the individual components as much as the sum of the parts. Location players prefer modern games (1989-NOW) that have simple and easy to understand rules. A big gimmick also helps greatly (castle, trunk, martians, etc).

    Collectors want deep and immersive rulesets, also with great gimmicks. That's the divide. More and more pinball players are home collectors and not public casuals. And they want deeper games. These deeper games cause them to be more obtuse to the casual player on location, and it makes them less inclined to keep putting quarters into it.

    #6 7 months ago

    I opetate in 10 locations in Northwest Indiana. Half of the locations are pizza restaurants. It's generally a mix of shooting, driving, pinball and prize games like all american chicken or putt for prize. Generally the pinball come in last, the games you get a prize on are all first and the other drivers and shooters fall in the middle earning wise. The super hero pins tend to do best with young male players. Can't tell you how many times I've heard a little boy say. "Look mom, Iron Man!" One location of mine is an arcade of 30 games which is ajoined to a kids themed train restaurant. The 30 pieces include a mix of cranes, redemption, drivers and shooters, skee ball, air hockey and 7 pins. The pins are necessary because i have a weekly league that averages 25 players a night and the league play makes it worth it for me. But otherwise coin drop on pins is dismal.

    #7 7 months ago

    I can tell you that as a parent, and a collector- I take my kids to a few local arcades and send them off with about 10 dollars in nickels- this is a “nickel cade” and although a few games really are a nickel many are 2-9+ nickels. This particular place happens to have about 12 DMD or newer games including MMr (9 nickes a game!!! Woot!!).

    My kids will burn a pound of nickels in minutes playing vegas style redemption games that reward them with 100 tickets streaming onto the ground. Then they turn in their 400-800 tickets an hour later (10-15 dollar cost plus 2.50 admission) and purchase a 50 cent plastic piece of shit.

    Luckly- I can get my daughter to play a few MMr (she loves castle multiball). But yes-

    I have the run of the 15 or so pins- I walk 10 feet to the left and I can barely move in the crush of children and idiot adults playing the vegas style redemption games. I swear to god- there are adults that will play for friggin tickets and do so “competitively” to the point they will jump in and work a gane if a kid leaves a “valuable” prize in an easy to get position.

    I don’t inderstand it, and it pisses me off a little bit, and I have to restrain myself from draggin my kids away from the garbage and “forcing” them to learn a true skill- like robotron or pinball

    To each his own- but I have true empathy for you trying to turn this into a business. I don't know how to get people to realize that arcade games and pinball games reward good play and are FUN! I do NOT understand the obsession with tickets. We talk about the fact that what my kids get is total garbage, and they completely agree and will even laugh about it- but human nature loves instant gratification. I have to admit... I have been known to load 50 nickels into a ball drop game and work to get my kids over the line for the last 300 tickets they need to get X or Y prize. So I get it- I just wish I did not get it and those games were gone.

    I probably am too old to get the new redemption game model- but not really, its has however been a LOON while since I was 9.

    Good luck and best wishes. I would dine at your locations and play your games. But I am only one.

    #8 7 months ago

    Excellent and interesting ts. Kudos.

    I think the market isn't big enough to have themes and games only catering to ten year olds.
    Granted you can get some young people interest, but you will probebly loose home users, since dad and mom wount pay 5k+ for a pin with a for example minecraft or emoji theme.

    What i think is needed is themes that can attract and span over multipel generations.
    Stern is terrible at this. JJP did a good atempt with wizard of oz, but maybe a bit old of a movie.

    I would love to see a toy story, which has been speculations on, or maybe a monsters inc, with closets Doors to open.
    Granted, thoose two example, May Come with licensing trouble, but as a General, im certain this is The way forward.
    (wouldn't it be great if JJP got the licens for aladin, incorparating a bit of totan, and maybe a mix from The animated and new version of the movie)

    Making kids interested, also has the benefit of having future customers.

    #9 7 months ago
    Quoted from rufessor:

    I can tell you that as a parent, and a collector- I take my kids to a few local arcades and send them off with about 10 dollars in nickels- this is a “nickel cade” and although a few games really are a nickel many are 2-9+ nickels. This particular place happens to have about 12 DMD or newer games including MMr (9 nickes a game!!! Woot!!).
    My kids will burn a pound of nickels in minutes playing vegas style redemption games that reward them with 100 tickets streaming onto the ground. Then they turn in their 400-800 tickets an hour later (10-15 dollar cost plus 2.50 admission) and purchase a 50 cent plastic piece of shit.
    Luckly- I can get my daughter to play a few MMr (she loves castle multiball). But yes-
    I have the run of the 15 or so pins- I walk 10 feet to the left and I can barely move in the crush of children and idiot adults playing the vegas style redemption games. I swear to god- there are adults that will play for friggin tickets and do so “competitively” to the point they will jump innif a kid leaves a “valuable” prize in an easy to get position.
    I dont inderstand it- it pisses me off a little bit and I have to restrain myself from draggin my kids away from the garbage and “forcing” them to learn a true skill- like robotron or pinball
    To each his own- but I have true empathy for you trying to turn this into a business. I kust dont know how to get people to realize that arcade games and pinball games reward good play and are FUN! I do NOT understand the obsession with tickets. We talk about the fact that what my kids get is total garbage and they conpletely agree and will even laugh about it- but human nature loves instant gratification, and I have to admit... I have been known to load 50 nickels into a ball drop game and work to get my kids over the line for the last 300 tickets they need to get X or Y prize. So I get it- I just wish I did not get it and those games were gone.
    To old (not really but 9 its been a LOng while since I was 9) and grouchy I guess. Good luck and best wishes. I would dine at your locations and play your games. But I am only one.

    A "prize" can be many things. Just imagine a finding nemo pin, with unique animated funny and cute cutscenes on the display When you clear modes, get cutscenes etc.
    -daddy can we watch that cool nemo scene again?
    -well if you play and manage to shoot the ball into the reef.
    -daddy are there other cool scenens?
    -just play on, im sure there is more.
    I assure you, kids all over will go after wizard modes, likes there is no tomorrow.

    But i agree todays kids are conditioned to recieve rewards (prize) When they play games.
    Just a score, like pacman or lesser pinball will not do.

    #10 7 months ago

    Characters that kids are familiar with is probably the best hook to get them to play. All of my kids friends (5 to 9 yrs old) are now asking their parents to come to my house to play TSPP, where they had no interest at all in WOZ. It's definitely not the gameplay that hooked them, it's just seeing the people they watch on tv coming to life.

    When it comes to future games, I'd say Nintendo has the best licenses that a pinball maker could dream of. There was some limits in the DMD era, but now that pinballs have LCD screens, allow for much more complex code, and can mix physical and virtual assets, the sky is the limit.

    The other point to consider, is that Nintendo is far more open to expanding its licenses beyond the game systems than they used to be. Mobile games, licenses toys, movies, these are all new territories that Big N is willing to explore, so pinball could be one of them.

    I would surely be first in line to buy one

    #11 7 months ago
    Quoted from rufessor:

    I do NOT understand the obsession with tickets.

    Every generation is different.

    When I was a kid it was dolls and toy trains. Kids that grew up during the video fad got into that and have games in their homes now. Today's kids are texting and want instant gratification like tickets for crap. It's not that they don't like video games or pinball. It's not what they are into.

    Their kids will be into something else too.

    LTG : )

    #12 7 months ago

    Most kids don’t have the attention span or patience for pinball. With the screen generation in full effect, pinball for kids has sailed.

    I’d look to 25-35 ish for themes...and the current themes are mostly too geriatric for even them.

    #13 7 months ago

    my kids are the same with ticket machines, same with MacDonalds they don't care about the food they just want the 10p toy!

    #14 7 months ago
    Quoted from rufessor:

    I can tell you that as a parent, and a collector- I take my kids to a few local arcades and send them off with about 10 dollars in nickels- this is a “nickel cade” and although a few games really are a nickel many are 2-9+ nickels. This particular place happens to have about 12 DMD or newer games including MMr (9 nickes a game!!! Woot!!).
    My kids will burn a pound of nickels in minutes playing vegas style redemption games that reward them with 100 tickets streaming onto the ground. Then they turn in their 400-800 tickets an hour later (10-15 dollar cost plus 2.50 admission) and purchase a 50 cent plastic piece of shit.
    Luckly- I can get my daughter to play a few MMr (she loves castle multiball). But yes-
    I have the run of the 15 or so pins- I walk 10 feet to the left and I can barely move in the crush of children and idiot adults playing the vegas style redemption games. I swear to god- there are adults that will play for friggin tickets and do so “competitively” to the point they will jump innif a kid leaves a “valuable” prize in an easy to get position.
    I dont inderstand it- it pisses me off a little bit and I have to restrain myself from draggin my kids away from the garbage and “forcing” them to learn a true skill- like robotron or pinball
    To each his own- but I have true empathy for you trying to turn this into a business. I kust dont know how to get people to realize that arcade games and pinball games reward good play and are FUN! I do NOT understand the obsession with tickets. We talk about the fact that what my kids get is total garbage and they conpletely agree and will even laugh about it- but human nature loves instant gratification, and I have to admit... I have been known to load 50 nickels into a ball drop game and work to get my kids over the line for the last 300 tickets they need to get X or Y prize. So I get it- I just wish I did not get it and those games were gone.
    To old (not really but 9 its been a LOng while since I was 9) and grouchy I guess. Good luck and best wishes. I would dine at your locations and play your games. But I am only one.

    I am guessing this happened in Murray, UT. I was at this place a few months ago and it was night and day. The front of the place is all ticket and claw games, the back half is arcade and a row of pinball. The front was packed, the back was one tick above empty. Had a great time on some pins I've never played though.

    #15 7 months ago

    Maybe pinball machines should be made to dispense tickets in such places?

    #16 7 months ago
    Quoted from wipinball:

    Maybe pinball machines should be made to dispense tickets in such places?

    This is something I've thought about a decent amount. Games have been able to spit out tickets for many years in the settings, but I've never seen one that gives tickets in the wild. Stern had an additional box that was supposed to be mounted to the cab. What about WMS games that have tickets in the settings, how were those spit out from the game? For places that have swipe systems, can you put tickets on those cards at the pinball machine the same way it does with the typical ticket game? Hype the bejesus out of the fact that pinballs can give tickets, and maybe even more per coin than the other games and see if it's more than adults playing.

    #17 7 months ago
    Quoted from wipinball:

    Maybe pinball machines should be made to dispense tickets in such places?

    I’m guessing that ticket seekers won’t want deep rule sets. The pins may have to have late EM or early SS layouts to attract that market (I’m seeing Target Alpha, Space Shuttle, Firepower).

    #18 7 months ago
    Quoted from desertT1:

    This is something I've thought about a decent amount. Games have been able to spit out tickets for many years in the settings, but I've never seen one that gives tickets in the wild. Stern had an additional box that was supposed to be mounted to the cab. What about WMS games that have tickets in the settings, how were those spit out from the game? For places that have swipe systems, can you put tickets on those cards at the pinball machine the same way it does with the typical ticket game? Hype the bejesus out of the fact that pinballs can give tickets, and maybe even more per coin than the other games and see if it's more than adults playing.

    Pinball is skill though, the real ticket games are set to a percentage and will not payout over. It would just take some good players to empty the machine of tickets which i don't think the op would like. But would be cool though.

    #19 7 months ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    Pinball is skill though, the real ticket games are set to a percentage and will not payout over. It would just take some good players to empty the machine of tickets which i don't think the op would like. But would be cool though.

    There is a setting in my Funhouse that caps the tickets dispensed. I think default was 25. I just have no idea where the tickets would come from.

    #20 7 months ago

    Doesn't Jersey Jack have a redemption type patent? I recall reading that but cannot recall where...

    #21 7 months ago
    Quoted from KozMckPinball:

    Doesn't Jersey Jack have a redemption type patent?

    Pindemption. Unfortunately pinball never seems popular as a ticket spitter. Yesterday, or today.

    LTG : )

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