Venom Launch Party – My First Time Experience with a Stern Pinball Launch Party

By Todd Russell Oct22,2023

Have seen Stern Pinball launch parties advertised on the Stern website before and finally there was one scheduled nearby that my wife and I could attend on Thursday 10/19/2023 at 7pm. This post is to share what the experience was like for others that might be interested in attending one near you/your area.

In order to earn the launch party badge, those in attendance needed to scan their Insider Connected QR code between 7pm and 11:59pm on the night of the launch party event. There is also a special leaderboard for the launch party event.

Leading up to the party, I have flipped Venom a couple dozen times or so, leveling up. Also, played the Venom LE at the Next Level Pinball Museum (see: Next Level Pinball Museum Hillsboro, Oregon has 21 of 22 Stern Insider Connected Machines as of 8/10/2023 – they have Venom Pro and Venom LE, so now as of October 2023, they have all 22 Spike 2 Stern Insider Connected machines available to play including some more rare LE).

Here’s video I shot of Venom LE (limited edition):


Venom (Stern Limited Edition 2023) only 22 of these on location in the world as of this post according to Pinside. This is easier than the Pro version with the added ramps and other features.

♬ original sound – playgamesmore

Versus video of Venom Pro:

@playgamesmore Venom (Stern Pro 2023) – these brand new Stern pins are making the rounds out there. Check out your favorite local pinball places. #venom #sternpinball #pinball ♬ original sound – playgamesmore

The Pinball Company shares a strategy video below for how to “win” a Venom Launch Party tournament. It’s interesting and the guy streaming makes it seem not ridiculously challenging to amass nearly five billion points with the strategy.

Now here’s the anticlimactic climax of our first time at the Venom Launch party. First off, the bar we went to had 18 Stern Pro machines and they were all in good condition, but a bit on the spendy side to play ($1 per play, $5 for 7 plays). The Admiral Pub is located in West Seattle and it was the first time we visited there. When we walked in we were greeted by an employee that only wanted to know if we were there for “bingo.” Yes, they were also running a bar bingo game and that, clearly, was the main interest. Oh, it gets worse, pinball-wise.

The place filled up and there was a ton of activity around the bingo game and five, yes, five people playing pinball. There were three of us, so make it eight for two hours of the launch party, which, unfortunately was not even a party. It was Venom sitting next to the bingo event and never even mentioned by the establishment. No organized or even unorganized tournament, no swag, no promotion, nobody even asking if we were there for the launch party. The only way you would know there *was* a launch party was if you had looked it up on the Stern pinball website.

There was a nice couple, make that two of the five other pinball players there, that asked me if we knew anything about the Venom Launch Party? I said, “Um, no. We’ve been here over an hour and nobody has said a word.” So, we played all the Stern Pro pinball machines we hadn’t played yet and of course scanned within the time period of 7pm to 11:59pm to earn our Venom Launch Party badge. Upon doing that, we noticed there was a launch party leaderboard that was up, including our scores, but really, that was the only way anybody would ever know there was a launch party. Kind of a bummer experience and surely not the way all Stern launch parties are meant to be celebrated. Kinda wish we had played some bingo, lol. It was an animated crowd over that bar bingo!

Don’t think we’ll be returning to the Admiral Pub any time soon, even though they do have a great lineup of Stern Pro pinball machines. I would like to try attending another Stern launch party in another venue. Have any of you reading attended a Stern Pinball launch party before? What was your experience like? Would love to hear how yours went? Surely, it went better than ours.

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