What is fuelling the growth of pinball in the USA and in other parts of the world? This was a topic recently explored in an article in Newsweek. The answer, according to some of the pinball industry's leading experts, is the widespread use of mobile phones. In other words, people are looking for something different.
Before exploring this any further, it is also interesting to note the fact that Newsweek deemed it worthwhile to publish a story on the growth of pinball. Of course, you can find this information on many specialist websites, including ours. The article in Newsweek, however, is further demonstration of pinball's move back into the mainstream, a position it vacated more than 30 years ago.
Growth of Pinball
So, just how fast is pinball growing? According to the Newsweek article, there are now 10 times more pinball tournaments than there was in 2007. Also, over 115k people now attend those tournaments, up from 12k in 2007.
You can also see evidence of the growth in pinball by looking at the revenue figures of one of the industry’s leading brands – Stern. It has experienced 40 percent sales growth in the last two years.
What is Fuelling this Growth?
The main thrust of the Newsweek article was to get an understanding of why an old game – pinball – is becoming more popular in the modern world. The question Newsweek posed was:
"What draws folks to play these seemingly antiquated games, especially when free ones are just a button-push away in our pockets?"
Zach Sharpe, the director of marketing at Stern, offered a plausible answer. He said that people are now used to their digital devices. Even very advanced technology is now commonplace and familiar.
This makes people seek alternatives to the digital norm. One of those alternatives is pinball, which offers a uniquely mechanical, physically tangible, and tactile experience. You simply can't get this on a phone or video game console.
In addition, when pinball was popular 30+ years ago, that popularity was for different reasons. Back then, digital devices were not available, so people were not excited by the mechanical nature of pinball. In fact, it’s what they expected. Not only that, as video games became more popular, pinball was pushed further and further into the margins.
What does this mean for pinball today? Could the pastime have greater longevity? Only time will tell.
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