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Coronavirus leads to spike in pinball popularity

Sumner Park
·2 mins read

Pinball machines have become a popular pastime as more people look for non-conventional forms of at-home entertainment in the midst of the pandemic.

And with additional pocket money to spare this year due to the reduction in traditional expenditures like travel or dining out, pinball machine sales have surged amongst first-time buyers.

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As the largest manufacturing pinball makers in the world, Stern Pinball has been a direct beneficiary of the upswing. The Chicago-based company has grown five-fold over the course of the pandemic, with its current backlog orders at record levels.

“It’s a challenge to entertain everybody when your options of going out have been removed,” board member, owner and Vice Chairman and EVP of Stern Pinball, Inc. Dave Peterson told FOX Business. “People quarantined at home are looking to entertain their families, and pinball is a terrific way to do that. Now our real challenge as a company is to scale our manufacturing up in order to work off those backlogs and meet that demand.”

The company’s series of pinball machines has seen exceptional demand from its most recent titles. including a line with Marvel Comics’ hit comic Avengers Infinity Quest, as well as its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine.

In the pinball mecca of Chicago, competitor gamemaker brand Jersey Jack Pinball is seeing its newest Guns n’ Roses pinball machine sell off the charts. The collaboration with the band’s Slash, one of the most highly regarded rock guitarists of all time, has sent pinball enthusiasts and even newfound pinball fans into a frenzy.

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All 500 of the collector’s edition games, each priced at $12,500, sold out within two hours of the live release.

Jersey Jack will be selling 5,000 limited edition machines at a cost of $9,500, in addition to the standard game at $6,750.

“People are spending a lot more time at home, and a lot of people are putting up their own home arcades,” Jersey Jack Pinball game designer Eric Meunier told FOX Business’s Jeff Flock. “People are buying a lot more arcades than they were in the past.”

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While the consumer segment of the pinball market is booming, the commercial side has taken a hit in the wake of the closure of restaurants, bars and arcades, according to Stern Pinball’s Dave Peterson. However, overall demand for the products is mitigating the temporary bind with shut down markets, and a recent pickup in European orders from business reopening has reassured a strong long-term outlook.

And the growth in demand has also wrought logistical obstacles with distribution and shipments.

“As the market has been shut down, it’s been a challenge to make sure we can get our games out to our distribution partners in the U.S. and around the globe,” Stevenson said.

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