07 July, 2018

The desolation of the digital pinball landscape

There have been months in the past when I was writing several posts on pinball, be it on the Mac or iDevices. But gradually things started deteriorating. 

First one of the oldest digital pinball developers, Littlewing disappeared. (Not the developer himself. Fujita-san is alive and well, working for Google in the US. But his twitter posts are now mainly about food). Still, I must point out that Fujita-san does does care about his work and did produce an update to both Tristan and Crystal Caliburn so as to comply with the 64-bit directives of Apple.

Then we had the major deception of ProPinball "revival". After a huge delay, compared to the initial announcement, the team of Adrian Barritt managed just barely to produce a version of Timeshock running on the Mac and the iPad with the old physics engine. Then they folded before making good on any of their promises. That was really a disappointment for all of us ProPinball fans. 

ASK Homework did produce several pinballs including the Zaccaria line which was indeed of great quality (but then, I am a sucker for oldies). However, once the Zaccaria collection was complete, two years ago, they disappeared. I am not very optimistic about their possible return.

But the major blow for the digital pinball community was FarSight losing the rights to the Bally/Williams pinballs. Two thirds of their pinball library disappeared on July 1st and I am not quite sure that FarSight will be able to weather this. Will they be able to find a sufficient source of revenue with just the Stern pinballs? Only time will tell (and we are talking here about short-term).

So what does remain? One pinball developer who is probably still alive is Gameprom. However their last creation is more than a year old so the situation is iffy. The only solid presence in the digital pinball world is that of Zen Pinball. They have a steady production of interesting tables. (There are around 80 of them). Sometimes I do not like them (for reasons I have abundantly explained) but all in all they are great pinballs and, in the long run, the last hope for the survival of digital pinball. Once Zen Studios stop producing pinballs we'll have to look for another pastime.