I ask because of all of the playfield and code issues coming from STERN and their machines.
Pinball was never meant to be made as a collectible. It had always been a commercial product as a means to make an income for the manufacturer, the distributor, and then lastly, the operator. Up until the late 80's , early 90's, trying to find a place to purchase a commercial amusement device geared towards the home buyer was slim pickings. As we lost manufacturers, Bally, Gottlieb, Williams, the scramble to find these machines and save them was on! Those of us who were lucky enough to be part of some of those infamous warehouse raids packed with off route machines were part of that home use movement.
Your sole survivor for years is STERN Pinball. And up until just a few years ago Gary Stern would be at that podium pounding his chest at how the commercial end was his bread & butter and that the home market was just a small portion of the demand. STERN's focus was for the operator. Then came the testing of the waters and we started to see the LE models creep in. The LE's sell out and then come the Premiums. Now you have the Batman 66 at close to $15K. The operators sure as hell are not buying these! Oh, let's not forget the STERN accessory store with mods, toppers, side armor, and every other trinket they can sell. Who is buying this?
My whole point is STERN and their marketing strategy has turned towards that home collector market, or the barcades that bypass the typical operator and own their own machines. The problem is their customer service is still in the dark ages. An operator doesn't give a shit about code updates, an operator doesn't care about a ghosting playfield insert or chipped clearcoat in the shooter lane. They care about a buck being put into their machines. They care about getting their money out of a machine until it no longer earns.
However, STERN is being completely ignorant of it's home buying customer criteria, but the entire Premium, LE's and accessories are geared towards such. Someone who pays $7K plus want his machine regularly updated with latest code, he wants his playfield to hold up more than a few hundred plays, he wants his features to work. We want quality out of the box, especially the premium ware paying for these big boy toys. Yes, I really like STERN pinball machines, but they are NOT the ONLY pinball manufacturer in the world anymore and they need to STOP treating the home collector customer base as if they still were.
It's pure bullshit that I am still waiting for my KISS LE code updates. It's pure bullshit that a guy like kpg has to settle for a buy back on his GB LE after Gary Stern made promises that were never kept. It's bullshit that we all sit in the dark while STERN continues to try and appease their customer base with "Our commitment to quality" or "stay tuned" catch phrases. I am going to use a term that I really can't stand, but STERN offers NO "transparency" when it comes to the support of their products. Unfortunately, the distributor hands are tied due to this. This has nothing to do with Pinside, RGP, or any other pinball forum. This all has to do with a business model that sucks for the home end user. If this were any other company in the world for another product, they would be put out of business.
So I ask again, STERN, who is your target market?