OPINION: Virtual Pinball Recreations Promote Pinball Like Tribute Bands Promote Music

By Todd Russell Jun3,2024

We like the real thing, right? More than imitation? Sure, we do. At least when the real thing is still good.

Before we twist this article to virtual pinball recreations of real pinball machines, let’s talk a bit about music for context.

Tribute bands and artists can be amazing. Sometimes dare I say they can perform better than the real act.

We all know how good Elton John is, but what about Elton Rohn?

No, really, Rohn is a for real live tribute act. Watch his band and him perform “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” below:

Rohn is talented, no doubt. Is he as good as the real Elton John? No.

Could give plenty more examples, musically, but certainly you’ve seen some good tribute bands. Hells Belles, an all female band, they cover AC DC songs. They are great, but no, they aren’t AC DC.

Which goes back to virtual pinball recreations of real pinball machines. Many are done really, really well, especially if you play them in 4K on a really good OLED display. Is Iron Maiden, the virtual pin recreation of the Spike 2 Stern Iron Maiden good? Absolutely, it’s amazing, but no, it’s not better than playing the real pinball machine.

In a prior YouTube video, I spent some time talking about how virtual pinball doesn’t compete against real pinball, it promotes and vice versa.

While this might be a hot take for some, suggesting virtual pinball can be any kind of benefit for real pinball, but am sticking firm by this. For those that disagree, feel free to hit the comments below and present a contrary viewpoint. Be warned: I’ve been playing virtual pinball almost as long as real pinball, first playing that Atari video pinball arcade machine back when it was in the arcades.

They had this video pinball machine at the 2023 Northwest Pinball & Arcade show (see: Attending Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show June 7-9, 2024? We are!). That machine was in arcades in the late 70s and early 80s. Real pinball goes back way further in time than virtual pinball, but both have lived in the arcade gaming space, I’d argue somewhat harmoniously for dozens of years.

More recently, I checked out this pinball board game. It was a different and curious experience. You can play this roll & write pinball game by yourself or with other players and they have different versions.

The moral of this story? All types of pinball are still pinball. If you like playing pinball, it doesn’t matter if one type is an imitation of another. The benefit is it promotes and encourages play for others.

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2 thoughts on “OPINION: Virtual Pinball Recreations Promote Pinball Like Tribute Bands Promote Music”
  1. Hi Todd!

    Many of our friends have bought real tables after getting into the hobby with virtual tables. It will only help grow the playerbase in my view.

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