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.