Stern feels previous licensed Virtual Pinball versions were “not to [our] standards” but open to exploring again

By Todd Russell Dec6,2023

Interesting and enlightening Siliconera interview with Stern Pinball CEO Seth Davis, where at one point he is asked about the virtual pinball versions of their machines:

So we’ve historically done, mostly before I was here, some amount of having our, our tables adapted for digital. We found the experience in most of those to not be to the standards that the company aspires to and hopes for. So we paused a little bit on that. It doesn’t mean we won’t ever get back to it or wouldn’t be interested in doing it, but we wanna make sure when we do it, it’s what people are looking for.

Interview: Stern Pinball CEO Discusses Tables and Insider Connected (siliconera.com)

The licensed virtual pinball versions Davis is referencing are still available on Steam and other platforms in the form of Stern Pinball Arcade, released in December 2016. The Steam listing is pictured atop this article. The overall Steam reviews are Mostly Negative, adding additional backing to the response.

The last bit of Davis’ reply suggests they might partner up with somebody again. Perhaps somebody more skilled than Farlight Studios in the pinball space. Somebody like, maybe, possibly Zen studios?

Then again, I have a better idea. Look at what the Virtual Pinball community is doing and work with some of those authors. A lot of what is happening in that space is really strong. Not saying Zen isn’t also making good virtual pinball, but it would be exciting to see Stern work with the virtual pinball community offering licensed virtual versions that were as close to accurate as the real machines as possible with current technology.

Imagine virtual pinball versions of their newest tables, licensed, and incorporating Stern’s Insider Connected (SIC) system? Scorbit is doing things with leaderboards and score tracking, but they don’t have the virtual badges and elaborate quest system that SIC offers.

Davis does answer a question about Stern’s focus and direction for Insider Connected:

People naturally wrap community around pinball. They go to tournaments. They play together in groups. They talk about it and all that. We now have the opportunity to offer them ways to expand and extend that experience with Insider Connected. See how their friends are doing. Compete on leader boards. Track their scores. Find where new pinball machines are located near them so they can go check them out and play them. We expect to continue to extend that.

Seth David, CEO of Stern Pinball (same linked interview as above)

I’m a huge proponent of SIC, have lobbied onsite operators and vendors to add/enable to all the SPIKE 2 machines they own (see: Stern Insider Connected Machines – Turn It On, Owners!). The closest location to me, the vendor and I chatted earlier this year about adding SIC to The Beatles machine, and that it would make players want to play it more, because their scores would be tracked and they could complete the achievements onsite. He said he’d think about doing it. Noticed on a recent visit that, in fact, it was added.

Would you like to see and play Stern licensed virtual pinball machines that the company felt met their standards? Count me in, big time.

Until/if that happens, I do not recommend the Farsight Studios Stern Pinball Arcade, go check into what’s happening with the virtual pinball community instead. And check out our Humpday Wednesday Pinball events and tables.

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One thought on “Stern feels previous licensed Virtual Pinball versions were “not to [our] standards” but open to exploring again”
  1. I would love if Stern continued releasing digitized versions of their games (including 70s and 80s Stern Electronic SS tables). Why don’t they acquire the Stern Pinball Arcade from Farsight and continue the game? Pretty sure a lot of folks would approve.

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