It’s been a long time coming – the first post I ran about Jersey Jack’s Wizard of Oz Pinball machine was back in January 2011 and the day has finally arrived that the machines are shipping out en mass to customers. They have a lot of orders to fill so it will probably take some time for them to catch up but for those that ordered in advance, the wait is coming to an end. This is the official marking of a wide release pinball machine hitting the market that is not being done by Stern Pinball, thus ending their notable 14-year run as the only major producer of authentic mechanical pinball machines. Below is a picture of truck filled with the games as they make their way out onto the market as shown in the latest update from the company.
I do have to admit a mistake in regards to the shipping of the game originally – I had taken some news of a couple of locations getting their hands on a machine this past December as a release but those were more test locations as opposed to an official release so my apologies in that regard. It will be recognized as a 2013 release instead.
This is a time I have been waiting to see for a while now. I have not made many friends over at Stern due to my criticisms of some of their games in recent times and I don’t even get press releases from the company directly anymore. It’s all business as the saying goes so I understand their point of view. As an operator and a gamer, I just haven’t seen a lot of innovation in pinball for a long, long time. I’ve been starting to feel the same way on the video arcade side with a saturation of racing games we keep seeing. When it’s more of the same, I’ll report it but not personally feel really excited about it. After Wizard of Oz was announced and details about it began to emerge, the quality of the tables that Stern was making started to improve from where they had been headed (from dismal games like NBA Pinball or Wheel of Fortune to better titles like the AC/DC or X-men). I think competition is great and healthy thing and I don’t believe it’s going to shakeout to there being just one company left after the dust settles. There were similar arguments about game consoles back when the Dreamcast died but here we are in 2013 and there are still three major game consoles. It is true that pinball is a far cry from a game console but as long as pinball makers make fun, creative games at prices customers will pay for, then we will see them stick around. Arcades can certainly use the uniqueness that pinball provides to any game lineup. As long as Jersey Jack can get their second game out to customers (The Hobbit as you might recall) then the ground will be set for some real competition – not to mention the arrival of companies like Heighway Pinball and Skit-B Pinball.