OPINION: Atgames Problem with ALP4K is History of Customer Treatment

By Todd Russell Dec14,2023

Have been asked by several people what I think of the Atgames Legends Pinball 4K (ALP4K – official website pictured below).

For readers that don’t know, I already own a number of Atgames products, and the original Atgames Legends Pinball, which many are referring to as the ALP HD these days. I was a wave 3 customer because that was the first wave I could preorder, since I didn’t have an Atgames Legends Ultimate 1.0, I had a 1.1. Wave 1 & 2 preorders were only for ALU 1.0 customers. So, I was a little late to get in at the very beginning for the ALP, but was definitely there early.

I really enjoyed the ALP HD and picked it as my favorite purchase of 2021. In 2020 my favorite hardware gaming purchase was the Legends Ultimate. In 2022, my favorite hardware purchase was the Steam Deck. I haven’t chosen my favorite purchase of 2023 yet, but it likely, will be one or both of the two high end Alienware gaming PCs I purchased or possibly the Sony Bravia OLED 4k OLED 120hz TV shown in the TikTok below.

@playgamesmore

Sony Bravia XR A80K 4K 120HZ OLED 55″- This is the playfield for my virtual pinball and it is great #sony #4K #tv #gaming #virtualpinball

♬ original sound – playgamesmore

Those are pretty much the only gaming hardware purchases I made in 2023 … so the competition isn’t that stiff.

Anyway, back to the ALP4K. The machine itself, despite the 16 skinned versions — of which we only know what four of the 16 are as of this writing — they plan to offer is kind of a non-starter for me, because the playfield is only 60hz. Once you’ve played pinball at 120hz+, you are not going to want to play pinball at 60hz any longer. To me, and others I know that have played virtual pinball at true 4K with 120hz or faster refresh, low ms delay … this is the optimal way to play virtual pinball. Just zero comparison, really.

So, the machine, stock at least, unmodded, is out for me. I’m reading that Buy Stuff Arcades out of Canada, which makes Atgames mods is working on a 2K faster refresh playfield. That could be one way to go about solving this issue, but stock, anyway, the ALP4K is a non-starter for me.

That leaves the new tables. Somewhat different story, but the first and most damning strike is the leaderboards. These are all new leaderboards for the ALP4K and the only place anybody can play/compete on them is through the ALP4K.

At least until they release another Core Max 4K+ … or whatever they want to call it. That might be the only way I’m going to ever see these tables, because I would spend $100 or so for a new Core Max 4K to play these games .. yeah, maybe even if it was only 60hz. This might be the only price concession I would make to try out the new tables. But that’s by no means a guarantee.

Then there is Atgames oddly overpriced subscription services like this brand new one they’re calling PinballNet:

Why does Atgames always overprice their subscription services? $14.99/month to play their 4k-only Atgames tables might be a good way to try all of the tables for one or two months, check out the service and then bail, but it’s not a good deal when you compare to Zen’s cross platform Pinball FX subscription which is the same price.

Meanwhile, Atgames Arcadenet has always been a ridiculously overpriced subscription service compared to, well, pretty much every other gaming subscription service. They recently closed their cloud streaming option, which also was overpriced.

If Atgames had priced this Pinballnet at half that price or less, maybe it would be something customers would buy and stay subscribed to? Yes, you can save some money buying the annual sub for $100, but that’s still too much. It’s almost like they price stuff intentionally higher so during their National Owner Day sales they can discount it and/or offer their LPO customers a deal. That’s no way to treat their customers … price your products and services at reasonable prices to begin with.

That all said, part of me wants to check out the new tables, but as more time goes by … think it will need to be through a show or somebody else I know buying one and playing it in their gameroom, if Atgames doesn’t release a new Core 4K product.

This gets to the even worse part for existing customers. All this 4K table stuff is only for the ALP4K owners, the existing ALP HD owners have to repurchase all the tables. This is straight out of Zen Pinball’s playbook. How many times can one keep buying the same tables? Atgames should have thrown their existing customers a bone that incentivized them to upgrade the 4K. There is literally no incentive that can be seen here for existing ALP HD owners.

Am not even sure somebody brand new getting in should trust Atgames to do right by them based on the way they’ve treated existing customers … but hey, if you think I’m wrong, wait and see what things look like 3-4 years after you own the ALP4K and there is the ALP4K+Max++ and you have to buy everything yet again and again and again and again to finally get a true 4K 120hz+ experience instead of a watered down slower, less FPS experience that is being rolled out in 2024 (doubtful anybody but maybe a few influencers will get one in the next few weeks — and most/all these gaming whores will tell us how “awesome” it is).

The only motivation is the new tables to play … which is (somewhat) enticing, assuming it’s not Magic Pixel developing the tables (just kinda burned out by their all-too-familiar, similar designs), but am curious and will have a tiny amount of FOMO when I see the new tables available (and not playing like trash).

Just too much $$$ to check out a few new tables when there are literally 1,000+ other tables out there right now for $0 and the Pinball M, FX stuff for a few bucks to $10 a table and the quality is VERY good with a bunch of these tables. Especially if you have good hardware to play them on.

These new Pinball M tables, I checked out 12/6/2023 in 4K OLED 120hz pushing 130-140FPS … they look and play great. Atgames has nothing on these, absolutely, positively nothing on these — and won’t. No, I haven’t played the Atgames 4K tables, yet … but maybe someday will be able to do so without buying one of their machines.

People will read this and say, you can’t compare a high end gaming PC-powered 4K setup to the ALP4K and my answer to that is: if you own one, sure you can! IF you don’t and are already an ALP HD customer it’s a smarter play to just put a new, faster HZ monitor in your ALP and abandon the stock Atgames ecosystem. You don’t need it, especially if you can access through your Core. The only thing you’re leaving behind are the legacy leaderboards which, again, those players seem to be left behind in promotion of their new 4K leaderboard system.

So, this makes me think I’ve graduated in virtual pinball beyond anything stock Atgames is going to do, unless I’m willing to go backwards and play a slower response, inferior display with tables that will probably be a little bit fun when they are new, but not long lasting gameplay $1,500+USD fun.

This is a great time to be loving pinball, but for somebody in my situation, the ALP4K is more likely to disappoint than excite. Planning to sit the sidelines on this one, my friends. If you didn’t know this before, you now know why. In detail.

Could my opinion change after playing these tables? Sure, but doubtful. I mean, the motivation to check this out is just not there in favor of what’s already available to play elsewhere.

If you’re buying one of these new ALP4Ks, let us know in the comments how it goes. Your opinion and experience isn’t necessarily going to match mine. Share your experience: good, bad or indifferent.

UPDATE 12/14/2023 @ 6:15am PST: Am likely not going to update when Atgames announces every new skin, but they announced Attack from Mars as their 5th of 16 skins, after I originally wrote this piece.

In fairness, this is the best-looking virtual pinball machine Atgames has ever made — or rather plans to make — to date. What I don’t like? The toy plunger, the stock control panel which is a joke (why not their much improved ACP), or rather why not just get rid of the control panel altogether and offer a bigger playfield? I know, I know, then they couldn’t have a built-in option for vertical games, but it has USB ports (and wireless gamepad option) and people that want to play non-pinball games on their vpin can do so without needing a built-in option. IMO, virtual pinball players would rather have a bigger, faster, better playfield.

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