There always are rumors about what the next pinball game from Stern is going to be and often enough, they tend to be correct. Rumor has had it for a while now that the popular HBO TV series (based upon the books) The Game Of Thrones would be getting the pinball treatment and today via the Wall Street Journal, the rumor is confirmed as true thanks to the teaser trailer which you can watch at WSJ.com.
As a teaser, there isn’t anything to see from the game itself other than to guess that the art style will likely follow what we see there. Part of the rumor has been that this will be Stern’s long awaited entry into using a color LCD screen in place of the animated scoreboard. For that, we won’t know until the full reveal this coming Tuesday, when we will also perhaps find out who the designer is (they were teasing Steve Ritchie some time ago on the Stern Facebook page). From there, Stern always moves quickly on getting the game out into the wild so I imagine this will be out on locations by October…which makes this an interesting battle between medieval fantasy themed games, such as this versus The Hobbit by Jersey Jack Pinball. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out through the holiday season.
What do you think about this new development?
Should we start taking bets on which company will get the rights to do the next Star Wars pinball? All the SW pins to date have been mediocre. Actually I’ve never played the Empire Strikes Back pin so I can’t speak for that one.
I’d like to see Heighway Pinball tackle it but Sterns seems to be the most logical choice. Perhaps Star Wars will be their February game, enough time to get some content from Ep. 7. That or like some other movies, they will wait until well after the movie release. JJP with their new cash influx could always surprise but they are going to have to get The Hobbit out onto the market to rebuild any goodwill lost over the delays. Interesting times!
JJP’s biggest hurdle will be getting through the Hobbit. By the time they get it out it’ll be a year after the release of the final movie. They are lucky in that there is going to be a rated R re-release of the final Hobbit movie during the holidays. Although Stern has made great strides in quality over the past few years, JJP is the premium pinball manufacturer, and the closest thing to a 21st century Williams/Bally. I thought that a Pat Lawlor original was next up for JJP. IMO, an original pin will sell more than a licensed pin, if it’s done right. Also, I don’t think there really is much value anymore in licensing movie properties, as the movie market has been flooded. “Tron 3” was cancelled simply because Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm has all of their slots planned out for the next five years and Tron didn’t fit into those plans. The Addams Family pinball was a great movie and a great pinball. Today, the movies are already forgotten a month after their release, and there’s yet another superhero movie to replace them with. I think everyone’s a little leery about the new Star Wars films for numerous reasons..So it’s still a gamble.
I’d say that TV shows now are a better bet. Game of Thrones was a big coup for Stern, and whomever would make a Dr. Who pin would probably do very well.
But ultimately, I think for pinball to survive, a lot of non-licensed pins will have to soon start being made. I realize that’s the opposite of what most probably think, but I think the game of pinball needs that raw, and unlicensed originality in order to stay alive. Pinball needs those original pins to push things and change things in ways licensed pins cannot, as the goal for a licensed pin is to maximize the usefulness of that license.
Well said. I think Full Throttle would be getting more traction if it would show up at more pinball events here (I’m tempted to buy one but would like to play it first). I’ve heard that the 3rd JJP game should be shown off next month but will wait and see. Of course waiting and seeing with them has been too much. I know that some ops have cancelled their Hobbit pre-orders because the window of opportunity was missed with the movies.
Dr. Who would be huge right now, it should have been done as a pin for the 50th anniversary. It won’t stay hot forever but at the moment the old one is going for about $5k.
Gary Stern once said in a seminar that you can’t do an unlicensed pinball these days since the material you get for the license money plus the included (kind of free) promotion through e.g. movie posters in case of a movie is cheaper than starting completely from scratch.
And Steve Ritchie pretty much confirmed this in an interview while he wasn’t working at Stern.
Yes, that’s the logic given. The licensing fee is minuscule in comparison to the benefits of being attached to a major motion picture, television series, music band, or even video game. However, my point is that the marketplace is so crowded that I think the benefit of licensing is very minimal in terms of getting people to actually play the games these days. The main reason I say this is that even if a pinball is released the day its movie tie in is released, that promotion has a very short half life as most movies are forgotten in a month, as there are so many more movies in line waiting to be the top of the box office for that week, and now it’s rare for even mega blockbusters to hold onto the #1 title two weeks in a row.
The arcade market doesn’t really exist as it did in the past. Twenty years ago an operator could recoup their investment in a machine relatively quickly. Today’s pins cost upward $7-8 Grand, and the audience for pins has diminished greatly. So each pin has to be in it for the long haul.
Don’t get me wrong, some licenses make perfect sense. The Wizard of Oz has a fervent, although rapidly aging, collectors base, and the movie is an all time classic. Other licenses, not so much. I think TV is really the way to go these days. Walking dead will be popular for years to come, as well as “Game of Thrones.”
But still, there needs to be standalone pins; pinball machines that will push and innovate. I fully realize this a dangerous prospect in this “One strike and you’re out” market, but if done right, if someone puts together something that is truly innovative and most importantly, FUN, they will succeed as pinball today is really more of a long game than anything else.
Here’s an article interviewing Roger Sharpe and he states that overall, the license fee for a pinball is well under $100 bucks per machine.