The resurrection of Pinball
Pinball machines have been around for over 70 years. The pinball machine is historic, some of the best games have come from pinball machines and as the new digital age emerged many saw the doom of pinball (including myself). Gaming, pinball and computers were booming in the 80s and 90s, pinball was super popular with brands like Williams dominating the market. The 90s also saw one of the best ages for pinball machines with new improved technology. It wasn’t long though until Williams shut its doors and pinball was in trouble. How come pinball is making a comeback in 2015? How come a game that requires no internet and takes up a lot of space can be considered anymore in today’s age? First we need to look at how and why pinball got popular and how the resurrection unfolded over the last few years.
The popularity of pinball machines
Arcades were super popular 20 years ago. Everyone you went to you would see flashing lights, pinball machines everywhere and full of people from all ages. Kids up to students and even adults loved pinball. My theory is that we have gone through the digital boom from basic phones and consoles to super advanced internet powered phones and consoles. As humans we miss the interactive element of playing real pinball and I think people are starting to realise that virtual gaming isn’t all it was thought to be when it was at its peak in the 2000s. Of course, this is my theory but the BBC also support this views with their latest article and videos on pinball.
Sources confirm that there has been a huge boom in pinball smartphone and console games recently and this has helped the surge in the purchasing of new pinball machines. Stern Pinball is the big player today but we have new players entering each year such as Heighway games, Jersey Jack and bespoke arcades to name a few. Stern pinball also confirms this trend by stating they have seen a 30% sales increase in the last year, incredible.
The Future for Pinball
The future looks bright for pinball as companies are now utilising new technology to enhance the mechanical feel of pinball. Many players used to find it hard to keep tabs on their score on the display and the ball, this caused some frustrating but with the new range of machines launching a HUD (heads up display) is being adopted. This allows players to keep focus on the playfield and score at the same time.
Additionally new pinball manufactures want to adopt the power of the internet in a never before seen way. They want their pinball machines to connect to social networking sites and the internet so you can compete for the best high score over the world without posting pictures or trying to prove your score was legit. This will help many players who thirst for competition want to play more pinball than ever before.
Wear and tear
Pinball machines are known for breaking down as it has so many mechanical parts it will happen over time. Many companies are now adopting an LED lighting approach which will eliminate the bulb replacement that is a pain for many owners. Furthermore, many mechanical parts that are worn down by physical pressing and hitting will be replaced by technology that allows the playfield to dictate some of the pinballs movements without touching it. Such technology will vastly improve the lifespan of the playfield.
Pinball machines new will cost you. Most Stern pinball machines will cost you around £6000 and Heighway games’ new pinball machine will launch at around £4500. This is a hefty price tag but there is a new golden age of pinball approaching and it’s very exciting!