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Real pinball sales boosted by sims

Stern Pinball reports revenues up 30% in the last year as new wave of competition springs up

The recent spate of virtual pinball games appears to be providing a boost to their real-world counterparts. Stern Pinball president Gary Stern told the BBC that his business saw sales jump 30 percent in the last year.

The market for pinball has actually become viable enough that Stern--once the only pinball manufacturer left in the game--has some new competition to worry about it. Heighway Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, and Quetzal Pinball are all planning to ship their first tables this year. Heighway Pinball managing director Andrew Heighway attributed the resurgence to a spate of console and smartphone pinball recreations in recent years.

"There's been a huge boom in pinball smartphone and console games over the last few years," Heighway said. "Many of the kids that play them have probably never seen a real pinball machine. A whole generation has missed out, but thanks to these video games, there are plenty of kids that have been primed for the real thing."

Farsight's The Pinball Arcade and Zen Studios' Pinball FX platforms have been a pair of higher profile virtual pinball efforts in recent years. The Pinball Arcade lets players buy digital recreations of actual tables from manufacturers like Bally, Williams, and Stern, while Pinball FX offers original tables, some of them based on popular licenses like Marvel's The Avengers or Capcom's Street Fighter.

Latest comments (7)

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus3 years ago
There's a reason why I listed Pinball Arcade as my site's #2 game of the year, behind only Dishonored. I don't regret it one bit.

In fact, I literally put down Genie to read this article.
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@Brendan -thanks for forwarding on the BBC News feature. The information was collected at the recent amusement trade show that took place in London last week. We also held a seminar on the developments of the new amusement scene.

Think its a little tenuous to link the growth to the appearance of simulations on consoles and mobiles -but I am just happy to see more examples of the rebirth of the digital out-of-home entertainment sector.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
I actually prefer Farsight's recreations of classic tables over more modern pinball games that go overboard with packing in action elements. I'm hoping they get around to getting Fireball done and perhaps some of the wild-looking but simpler late 60's tables I can still recall.
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Show all comments (7)
Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.3 years ago
I hope it really does take off again, I'd love to go back to working on pinball machines, and for that matter proper arcade machines again. I know people keep saying that we don't need arcades because of the Internet and social and mobile gaming, but the Internet is not the same as a local arcade community, with local heroes and highscores, no matter how hard it tries.
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Bjorn Larsson CEO & Executive Producer, Legendo Entertainment3 years ago
Happy to hear digital pinball games are driving physical business and fingers crossed arcades will return at some point and in some form (that makes financial sense). Working on an iOS update to our Pure Pinball here; digital table designers (and such 3D artists) are welcome to contact us.
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus3 years ago
@Greg - Agreed. Personally, I think Pinball FX's tables are a little too "busy", and the physics aren't the greatest, either. FarSight's been doing these pinball recreations for some time now, and they have the engine fine-tuned to near-perfection.

Now, if only they can get Sony and Microsoft to play along on updates...
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
I love and miss classic pinball machines, like the Addams family, Tales from the crypt and terminator 2 ones.... I used to go to the arcade just to play pinball machines... and would pay money to have virtual recreations of these if it meant it was the only other way I could enjoy classic pinball machines. As long as the physics are good im ok with it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 29th January 2013 7:41pm

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