SDCC 2016: Stern Pinball Embracing The Future


On the San Diego Show Floor is a booth that represents the return of popular subculture that is steadily growing back in popularity year after year: Pinball. In the past, Stern has built machines that are themed around major licenses, like Metallica, KISS, and Game of Thrones. This year, Stern showed up with some incredible machines in partnership with the Original Ghostbusters, Spider-Man, and every cheap college kids’ favorite beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Just like our coverage of Stern Pinball last year at San Diego Comic-Con, I spoke with Jody Dankberg. In 2015 we spoke about the increase in popularity for pinball based on their incredible amount of sales that lead to a major increase to the size of their facility. This year, the theme was how pinball can evolve and grow with new technology.

I brought up the new wave of digital pinball machines we have seen on shows like Shark Tank. Jody was very complimentary of the new technology, and even mentioned how Stern themselves are ready to start incorporating more complex high-definition scoreboard displays, and even has plans to add a more social aspect that allows you to connect your phone to the pinball machines to keep track of your statistics and unlock achievements.

Another amazing trick that Stern Pinball has up their sleeve is a collaboration with Oculus VR. They are in development in creating a VR pinball experience similar to what we have seen with Netflix. You will be in a virtual arcade and be able to play digital pinball. Not much has been revealed on this front yet, but it is incredible to see Stern Pinball incorporating new technology with a beloved game.

While Stern is embracing new tech and taking pinball to places it has not yet been, Jody still acknowledges that you can never match the feeling of classic, analog pinball. Gravity is the ultimate x-factor in classic pinball, and there is no formula or algorithm that can give you the true unpredictability of the game of pinball or the feeling of actuating those mechanical flippers. Keep an eye out for a Stern Machine at your local arcade, and soon to Oculus Virtual Reality.



You can listen to the interview in it’s entirety below!

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