I always appreciate your input on things like this, and am always fascinated by your experiences, but could you expound on this further:
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:
we saw the future end early, just like the changes today. The long term viability of pinball as commercial entertainment has formally ended, as well as the home environment collections within the next 20 years. Those that disagree are simply in a state of denial, although a few will carry the torch to keep machines in working order.
especially the "future end early" part? Are you referencing p2k, or something else? I've seen t:tbtsp and it is fascinating. What do you see as similar to the late 90's/early 2000's to now; what about different?
As far as commercial viability goes, I would generally agree, but I keep seeing machines appear in places I had never seen them before. And it's not for a lack of noticing. A large operator I am acquainted with, has been buying new Stern's like crazy; like 10 of each of the modern LCD and putting them on location, in many places, which have never had pinball before. That's a very small sample size, but it appears that the action of "pinball vending/operating for a profit" is alive and well, and possibly expanding, in my AO, at least.
I also find that the home collection market is expanding. WAAAAAAAYYYYYYY back in the early 2000's (haha), I never met anyone that personally owned "modern" (dmd) machines in the home, other than myself (I was at the time managing a small social club, and was usually presented with the option to buy "end of the line" machines from our operator, for a couple hundred dollars. I kick myself now because I ended up selling these machines for essentially what I paid, figuring I could always get them back for about the same price...big mistake as we all know). I knew a couple people that had a single em or early solid state, but never more than one or two, and NEVER anything newer than 10-20 years old, at the time. Nowadays, well, I know MANY people, who have 3, 5, 10, 20, even 50+ games at home. I know that's a byproduct of re-engaging in the hobby myself after being out of it for 10-15 years prior to picking it back up, but even back then, I only knew a very few people that even had a single old em in the basement, let alone a basement full of modern machines. No doubt that operators then were less inclined to sell machines to the general public for fear that it would cut into their own profits, but still. Home ownership of commercial quality machines was just not as big of a "thing" then, as it is now.
Again, small sample size, but the venue in which I play league in, has by my estimate, grown 50% in attendance since I started going regularly a couple years ago. Seemingly, every new season, the league has been growing by about 20%-25%. These are not hard numbers, just my estimate, but the league has for certain grown since I started attending.
Even using myself as an example, I jumped back into pinball collecting/restoring/playing substantially more in the last few years. Years ago when I first bought machines, pinball was just a "thing", a "distraction", "something to do". That's how it always was; even when I was a child. I wouldn't have called it a "hobby", per se. It was just something to kill time with my friends, and a few years later, a thing to do while drinking beer with my friends. Fast forward to today, and now I actively play regularly (almost too much, haha), I have machines again (and will probably get more), I have gotten a growing number of folks reacquainted with the game ("wow, pinball is still a THING?!?") or outright introduced them to it, and have seen a good number of people start collections of their own. And as the used market tells me, I don't think it's one person replacing another when one person leaves the hobby; for every one person leaving, there are at least two entering.
Perhaps I live in a bubble, or an echo chamber, but it appears, at least to me, that pinball IS expanding; in physical places to play, in more people's homes, and probably most importantly, in people's minds.