31 July, 2014

Bright future in digital pinball‽

Last week my friend Marco sent me a link to an article in Game Informer based on an interview with Stern’s director of marketing who was enthusiastic about the future of pinball. He claimed that more and more people are exposed to pinball via digital games. 

He went on to comment on the effect of Farsight:
"Farsight is recreating some of our older tables, and some of the older Williams and Gottlieb tables, and we’ve seen some of the used values of those machines rise. We did a Ripley’s Believe it or Not with them, and then shortly after the release of the table, it was hard to get a used Ripley’s machine. That was a cool side effect, as well”.
Finally he hinted about a possibility that Stern produce their own digital pinballs based on their existing physical models.

Re-reading the article I do not see what would justify a vision of a bright future for digital pinball. If Stern decided to produce their own digital pinballs, well, great. But a pinball simulation is something highly non-trivial and I will applaud only once I see a finished product. 
As to the present of digital pinball, to my eyes, it looks rather bleak. With the disappearance of Littlewing we are left with just two players in the digital pinball world: Farsight and Zen Studios. (To be fair, I should add ASK Homework, who are doing a nice job porting the Zaccaria pinballs). When Timeshock is finished, and if it’s a commercial success, we may have four players. After an initial enthusiasm, most small pinball developers have thrown the towel. (Where they the ones who have spoiled everything by producing unacceptably bad games?). How long have we been waiting for Gameprom’s Red Planet? 

All in all, I am not so sure that the future in digital pinball is bright.

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