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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 2, February 2013, Posted On: 2/5/2013

Pinball Poised For Comeback, Say Time And BBC

Marcus Webb
TAGS: Pinball, pinball machine operator, coin-op, coin machine, Stern Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, Time pinball article, Flipping heck, pinball recovery, International Flipper Pinball Association, Heighway Pinball, Free State Pinball Association

Pinball may or may not be making a comeback in commercial amusement operations, but it is clearly enjoying rising interest among fans around the world, which mainstream media are recognizing.

In New York City, TIME magazine's tech blog announced on Jan. 28 that "Pinball Makers See a Comeback in the Making." The next day in London, the venerable BBC asked, "Flipping heck: Is pinball about to stage a recovery?"

TIME and the BBC both quoted Stern Pinball chairman Gary Stern, who said the company's 2012 sales were up 30% over 2011.

The BBC story also touted a trio of new pinball manufacturers: Heighway Pinball, a UK-based company that plans to release its first machine shortly; Spain's Quetzal Pinball, whose executives said their Captain Nemo game is expected to begin shipping in late February; and America's Jersey Jack Pinball, whose Wizard of Oz flipper will launch on March 13, as previously reported in Vending Times.

Also cited: the International Flipper Pinball Association's 16,500 players and 430 tournaments worldwide.

Officials at Heighway said pinball software on console videogames and pinball apps on smartphones are serving as advertisements for the real thing.

The enthusiasm of pinball players was captured in a recent story titled "Pinball league alive and well in Northern Virginia," published by the Fairfax County Times.

The story chronicled the 17-year-old Free State Pinball Association, which boasts 27 people in three divisions. The organization hosts league play in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. Players flock from all over the metropolitan area to play in all three venues.

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