New Venom Pinball Machine Is a Love Letter to Fans

Mike Villarreal

As the world traveled to San Diego for Comic-Con this year, Stern Pinball made its way looking to unleash a monster not of this world on the convention floor. The famed pinball machine manufacturer would reveal the first-ever Venom pinball machine. The notorious Spider-Man foe has shown that he can more than hold his own popularity against any of the other Marvel superheroes. With two successful worldwide box-office movies (and a 3rd on the way), it makes all the sense in the world that fans would be clamoring for a pinball machine for the big guy in black.

We were able to get some hands-on with the pinball machine at the convention, and I got to say it truly is a love letter to Venom fans. Players can choose to play different hosts like Agent Venom and Spider-Gwen. You will even have boss battles against familiar enemies like Carnage, Riot, and even the more recently introduced, Knull: God of the Symbiotes. Stern Pinball has clearly done its homework when it comes to Venom lore.

We were able to sit down with Zach Sharpe, the Head of Marketing, to talk about how the Stern Pinball team created this new machine.

So what made you choose to make a Venom-based machine and how did your team take the idea of Venom and apply that to a pinball machine?

Zach Sharpe: So our lead game designer and lead game programmer are humongous Venom fans. So when we knew we were going to do a Venom pinball machine. They really wrap their head around what is Venom. I mean, he’s a symbiote that lives off of different hosts. So the mind from Brian Eddy, who’s the game designer, thought of a way of being able to change the mechanical nature of the pinball machine. So when you’re changing a different host, whether you’re Gwen Stacy or Eddie Brock, it feels like you’re playing a different machine because you’re a different host. You’re going to have different experiences and that also is with the audio too. If you’re Gwen Stacy, it’s a little upbeat funky fresh, but if you’re Eddie Brock, it’s a little more like hardcore, heavy metal. It gives you a different vibe and energy.

Does changing the host also affect how the pinball machine physically feels when it comes to hitting the balls or the way they bounce off objects?

Zach Sharpe: No. I’ll just say the normal core stays the same. But it’s fun because you can change hosts every ball, so you don’t have to get locked into just Eddie Brock. Because when you’re Venom, you’re constantly hopping around, depending on how you want to attack the game and different strategies, you might change to a different host as you get further in the game.

Stern Pinball’s Venom Machine. Photo by Nerd Reactor

There are a lot of characters in this game, and they are all certainly connected to Venom.

Zach Sharpe: We work really close with Marvel. During the early phases of discussion, you always want to get as much as you can because it tells a broader story. So working with them we were able to define what characters can we use. That’s how we got Venomized Wolverine, Hulk, and Captain America. I love seeing these characters in their symbiote form. It’s so cool.

I noticed the game had a crazy feature where Carnage keeps moving closer, and there’s a ball that you have to hit to push him back. Is that a regular thing in pinball or is that a new thing new just for Venom?

Zach Sharpe: A little bit of both. So a cap fall isn’t something quote-unquote new where you hit a static ball to hit another ball into something. But that ratchet system, that is new, in the sense of you trying to push Carnage back into Ravencroft. And if you push them back all the way, then Carnage is multi-ball up the middle. This is just another element of battling Venom’s arch-enemies.

By any chance will you be sending one of these pinball machines over to Insomniac Games?

Zach Sharpe: Oh, no but we have been in touch with them. It’s kind of funny that the timing of their release and ours just kind of mashed up at the same time.

The voice of Venom in their game is Tony Todd, and he also did the voice-over for your Venom. Was that coincidence?

Zach Sharpe: Not a coincidence. It just happened that way. It’s just crazy how the world works.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

If you get a chance, I strongly recommend checking out the Venom pinball machine, especially if you are an avid Venom fan like myself. And if you have the money to buy one of the new machines ($6,999 to $12,999), then why not share the wealth and buy one for me while you’re at it? The Venom pinball machine is now available at