News Article

Pinball Games Contribute to a Revival of Real Tables

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A new generation is getting interested

While it's often easy for veteran gamers — some of which are part of the Nintendo Life team — to bemoan the loss of some video game traditions, there are occasions where modern trends are good for those with old-fashioned sensibilities. We see old titles given new life on download platforms, for example, while it's also emerging that the trend for pinball video games is contributing to a revival of the real tables.

Speaking to the BBC, Gary Stern, President of Stern Pinball — a company that's maintained the pinball table industry almost on its own in the past decade — said that the business had seen a 30% jump in sales in the last year. The industry has revived to the point where competitors have started to emerge and Andrew Heighway, managing director of Heighway Pinball, had this to say about the role of popular pinball games in boosting interest.

There's been a huge boom in pinball smartphone and console games over the last few years.

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.

Heighway went on to explain some of the innovations that his company hopes to bring with its first table, including a colour LCD display within the play area that will integrate visual effects directly into the experience. Various table producers, including Heighway Pinball, are also planning to imitate video games further with an equivalent of online leaderboards integrating directly into the units.

You'll be able to compete with other people over the internet, record your scores and compare them with other people's at local, national or international levels.

Machines will also be able to post your score on Facebook like online games.

This online functionality will reportedly stretch to purchasing credit online, so you won't need a pocketful of change to play. As suggested at the start of the article, it seems that titles from developers such as Zen Studios and Farsight Studios are playing their part, while Zen Pinball 2 is already confirmed for the Wii U eShop in Europe this week. We still have hope, meanwhile, that The Pinball Arcade will still arrive on the console during the launch window.

If you're interested in this, then we suggest checking out the full article. What do you think? Are you excited by the idea of real pinball tables coming back, do you prefer the virtual kind, or are you a wizard that is keen on both?


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User Comments (31)



Sean_Aaron said:

To be honest I prefer the machines from the late 1970s and early - to mid -1980s so most of the newer tables don't do a lot for me. They're all based upon licensed properties because that's what sells and they tend to be focused heavily around playfield "toys."

Nevertheless it's nice to see there's some life there; enough so that new companies are entering the market. If I see a machine I'll give it a go, but I expect I'll likely spend more time in The Pinball Arcade on my iPad/Wii U.



Mk_II said:

I grew up playing those classic Bally and Williams tables and for a very long time i preferred pinball over the first video games - if only because my quarters lasted a lot longer playing pinball



EverythingAmiibo said:

My local HMV bought a bunch of awesome pinball tables that are clearly doing great for them, it's probably the only thing keeping that store open! xD



allav866 said:

I've played a bit of pinball back in the day, but mostly I play pinball video games rather than an actual table. Even so, hearing that they're being revived is good, and I hope to see more modern pinball tables soon.



Spoony_Tech said:

The more pinball the better. I don't care what the formAT just gimmy more tables NOW!!



Kohaku said:

I had 3 tables at home and nothing can beat real pinball. How ever, maintenance costs are becoming to high when you are not that good with electronics. Therefore I am happy with the virtual tables.



Bankai said:

Great find, Thomas.

I dunno if it is video games that are helping the revival of pinball, however. There is a definite trend in cafes, waiting rooms and so on to stick retro video games in - part as a way to keep customers happy, and part as a cool old-style decoration. Those PlayTables (coffee table with 60+ old games like Space Invaders) do a brisk business now and the same businesses buying those will be buying pinball tables.

I doubt many consumers are playing the likes of Zen Pinball and thinkin to themselves "I HAVE to spend $1000 for the real deal."



Sean_Aaron said:

@Ottobot - I don't suppose you live in Glasgow? The HMV at the top of Buchanan Street has four or five machines and that's the only reason I set foot in the place.



shredmeister said:

More pinball! Farsight better put that Twilight Zone table in there. I've got it on my smartphone, but the screen is too dang small.



ajcismo said:

Love me some pinball. With HD graphics and ultra realistic physics, its really easy to get turned on again to the tables. No need to raid the quarter jar or take up a ton of space in the garage or basement with a stand up machine.

Twilight Zone is king.



idork99 said:

Gotta love the real thing when it comes to Pinball. The digital versions, for as advanced as they are, just can't replicate the feeling of having a long, live table in front of you. My personal favorite...Pin*Bot! Great table!!



Freelance said:

Sadly I never played real tables in my youth so most of my experiences have come from video games. I am happy that I did manage to play real pins at a local theatre before they removed them and yes, virtual pinball is nothing like the real thing. That said, I still play them because that's the only way I can ever play pinball, and I save lots of money on quarters.

I'm glad to see more people now are interested in pinball though, especially real ones.



DaemonSword said:

I've always been a pinball fan, and lucky to see many of the classics just 15 min away at my local Scandia. That being said, I'm disappointed on how Farsight Studios is handling The Pinball Arcade on the 3DS. I'm glad they've gotten access to a lot of old tables, and they're doing a good job on getting those to the consoles and computer gaming, but nothing but crickets on the 3DS (other than that one barebones game)



DarkCoolEdge said:

I like pinballs but not the videogame ones. The only one I have ever enjoyed is the one on Windows. I've tried 3ds', metroid, pokemon...didn't like any of them. Not even a little.



Rafie said:

Dude Pokemon pinball is EPIC!! I was born in '82, so I was around when pinball machines was still very popular. I played so many pinball machines. So saying that I'm a fan is an understatement. I enjoy pinball of any long as its good. Zen and FarSight has taken pinball and heightened it. Zen for fantasy and FarSight for authenticity. I think that even kids who hasn't really played real pinball machines can appreciate what these virtual pinball games derived from and entice them to actually find a pinball machine and try it.



Freelance said:


I noticed you don't like all the pinball games that relied on video game elements, ie stuff that can't be done on a real pinball machine like aliens that move across the screen. Maybe an authentic pinball video game would be more up your alley, like Pinball Pulse on DSiware, or Pinball Hall of Fame: Williams Collection. I am not that fond of video-gamey pinball either. I prefer more realistic pinball.

P.S. Space Cadet (the one you liked) is far from the best pinball game so you need to play more games!! The Pro Pinball series is very good.



Freelance said:


There's a good reason for that. The 3DS doesn't really have the processing power to handle the ROM emulation well, which is why it's taking forever for TPA to come out on it. They're still trying to fix it as far as I know. The 3DS game (Williams Collection) doesn't use ROM emulation.



Sean_Aaron said:

Revenge of the Rob-o-bot is a great original pinball sim available for iOS/Android as are the two Little Wing tables.



Aqueous said:

I've mostly played digital, which I'm fairly skilled at. No true wizard though. I have touched a real one, not much mind you. It was slopped at an awful angle so it was hard to get anywhere on the table, though I think it was poorly maintained.



defrb said:

Ive played a lot Adams family, Mars Attacks, Twilight Zone and some more.
Would be great when they revive them

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