Despite what you may think if you’re not actively in the arcade and retro gaming scene, Pinball has never really died. While it is true that Pinball nearly vanished in the late 1990s as video gaming and home console gaming were on the upswing, thanks to some determined people and companies (cough, Stern Pinball, cough), Pinball managed to limp along for a few years before enjoying a resurgence in recent years.
Despite dwindling to just a single manufacturer as recently as the 2000s, the Pinball industry is thriving again, and only getting stronger.
Which means that if you’re looking to buy a new pinball machine for your home or business, you’re in luck, as there are plenty of manufacturers producing quality modern tables. But, it can be hard to know who to trust, and what to make of all the players if the names Bally and Williams mean anything to you.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide to all the modern pinball machine manufacturers who are making pinball games in 2022.
We’ll tell you about each company, what they make, and how you can get your hands on their products. So whether you’re a fan of classic pinball or you want something with more bells and whistles, we’ve got you covered!
If you’ve ever asked yourself “who makes pinball machines in 2022?”, Stern Pinball would like a word. Today, Stern Pinball is the leading manufacturer of modern pinball machines. The company was founded in 1999 by Gary Stern after purchasing the pinball division from Sega (which itself traces back to Data East Pinball, which Gary Stern had a hand in running in the 1970s and 1980s). Stern had existed as Stern Electronics, Inc. from about 1977 until around 1985.
Stern Pinball Inc. typically releases three major games per year, which are known as their Cornerstone games. Cornerstone games typically feature the best licensed themes, and the work of Stern’s best designers and artists. The company may also release several boutique games throughout a given year as well. Examples include home oriented versions of cornerstone releases (like the Jurassic Park home game) and limited edition remakes and special editions like The Beatles (remake of a classic Stern table, Seawitch) and Elvira’s House of Horrors (more expensive then a regular table but filled with more features and toys).
Stern Pinball releases most games in three different trim lines – Pro, Premium and Limited Edition. The Pro is their most basic trim line and is what is typically found on location in bars, restaurants, and arcades. The Premium and Limited Edition lines are geared more towards the home collector and have premium price points and in the case of LE’s, limited production runs.
Stern Pinball is known for consistency, relative high quality work (particularly compared with some of the other manufactures in this list), production capacity and product support. Machines from Stern Pinball are easy to repair and maintain, which helps make them popular choices for location operators looking for something more reliable than a vintage game. There are lots of available parts from Stern themselves, Pinball Life, Marco Specialties, and others. Stern Pinball also does a lot to support other areas of pinball (like tournament and competitive play). Recently, the company released their Stern Insider program, adding Internet connectivity to their machines and an extra layer of networked scorekeeper and achievements.
Stern pinball machines are purchased through their network of dealers and distributors, which can be located on their website.
Stern also offers a whole line of branded merch and other game-related products meant to position Stern as the go-to lifestyle brand for pinball fans.
Stern’s current lineup includes:
- Star Wars The Mandalorian
- Led Zeppelin
- The Avengers Infinity Quest
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Elvira’s House of Horrors
- Jurassic Park
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Star Wars
Jersey Jack Pinball
Jersey Jack Pinball is one of the leading manufacturers of pinball machines in the world, second only to Stern. Founded in 2011 by industry vet Jack Guarnieri, they are known for their technologically advanced machines, which often come with large LCD screens, immersive LED lighting and integrated cameras. They are also one of the first manufacturers to incorporate Bluetooth technology into their machines.
Their machines are typically more expensive than Stern Pinball machines, but they are also known for their high quality and immersive audio/visual experiences.
You can purchase Jersey Jack Pinball machines through their own network of dealers and distributors. Many of these will overlap with Stern’s network, but there are also some that are exclusive to Jersey Jack.
Parts availability for Jersey Jack machines is roughly on par with Stern’s. However, their machines are known to be slightly less reliable than Stern’s, which can be attributed to their higher price point. As a result, Jersey Jack machines are often not found in bars, restaurants or arcades.
Jersey Jack launches about a game per year, though we’d expect to see them accelerate that pace in the coming years as they bring their new factory in Chicago online.
Jersey Jack’s current lineup includes:
- Guns n’ Roses
- Toy Story 4
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
American Pinball is a smaller pinball machine manufacturer launched in 2015 by Dhaval Vasani. Vasani launched American Pinball when he stepped in to rescue the visionary but troubled John Popadiuk, who had run into financial and legal trouble with his own pinball startup, Zidware. American Pinball’s first release was Houdini, based on a Popadiuk concept table. However, Popadiuk was fired from American Pinball before Houdini was finally released.
American Pinball tends to offer its games in two trim lines, a Classic line which is like Stern’s Pro, and a Deluxe Edition that’s usually limited production. American Pinball was mostly known for building unlicensed themes like Houdini and Oktoberfest before landing their first licensed theme with Hot Wheels.
While licensed themes typically sell better then their unlicensed counterparts, an unlicensed theme gives designers and artists more creative latitude, which is what a lot of American Pinball fans appreciate about the companies approach to date.
American Pinball’s machines are typically less expensive than Stern Pinball machines. American Pinball is ramping up production, but is general working on a release schedule of about a game a year. It’s rare to find these games on location or in home collections. As such, it can be tough to get a read on build quality and reliability. However, some anecdotal reports from those who own American pinball machines at home or on a route generally speak to high levels of reliability, solid build quality, and minimal repairs needed.
American Pinball parts should be about as available as Jersey Jack or Stern machines. You can buy American Pinball machines through their network of dealers and distributors.
Current lineup includes:
- Legends of Valhalla
- Hot Wheels
Spooky Pinball is a small, upstart pinball manufacturer that focuses on producing smaller runs of games (typically under 1,500) released every few years. Their games generally fall within and adjacent to the horror genre, like Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle and Halloween. Games come in three trim levels – Standard, Blood Sucker Edition and Collector’s Edition.
Because of their smaller production capabilities, most games sell out very quickly and are generally purchased by putting down a deposit to reserve your spot on the production wait list. While they do have a few authorized distributors like other manufacturers, their focus is mostly on selling their machines directly to customers through the deposit system. They also have a loyalty program called the Fang Club where for a small annual fee you get some Spooky merch and early access to new title releases.
Machine owners generally report being satisfied with the reliability and maintenance needs of their machines. Parts are readily available from Spooky Pinball, making repairs relatively easy to do. However, due to their limited production runs, Spooky Pinball machines can be rare to see on location or in home locations.
- Rick & Morty (sold out)
Chicago Gaming Company
Chicago Gaming Company is a unique pinball manufacturer in that it is not actually a standalone company, but rather a division of Churchill Cabinet. Churchill Cabinet produces game cabinets and playfields for other pinball machine manufacturers, and Chicago Gaming Company focuses (today) on exclusively on remaking classic Bally/Williams era machines from the 1990s.
Their first remake, Medieval Madness, was released in 2015, and since then they have released remakes for Attack from Mars, Monster Bash, and Cactus Canyon. While the names of their trim lines have changed over the years, Chicago Gaming Company typically releases their pinball tables in 3 trim levels – a base model, mid-tier upgrade, and premium collectors edition.
Price points tend to be very affordable compared to other vendors, with entry level models selling for around $6k. Generally regarded to produce a high quality product, Chicago Gaming Company machines are nevertheless difficult to find on location or in home collections. Parts are readily available from Chicago Gaming Company and other third party vendors if repairs are needed.
There are rumors of Chicago Gaming Company producing their first original pinball table sometime in the near future.
- Cactus Canyon
- Attack from Mars
- Medieval Madness
Multimorphic is known for their unique take on Pinball machine production with their P3 gaming platform. Multimorphic began life in 2009 as a hobbyist control system that would allow pinball fans the ability to run custom code on existing machines. The popularity of this control board, called the P-ROC, would eventually enable founder Gerry Stellenberg the ability to start producing full games starting in 2012, with its first production run completing in 2017.
While a lot of pinball manufacturers talk a big game about bringing innovation to pinball, Multimorphic is one of the few that can walk the talk. The P3 is more of a platform for pinball than a single machine. The P3 features a modular design, which allows owners the ability to play multiple games on a single machine. Some games come with swapable playfield modules, while others are more software focused and work with a single playfield module.
The P3 uses a large 1080P display as the lower game playfield, as opposed to the more traditional all wood construction of most pinball machines. This design approach is what allows users to play different games on the same machine, and brings a level of interactivity that can’t be found with other manufacturers.
Until the release of Weird Al’s Museum of Natural History, P3’s have had mostly niche appeal. That said, Multimorphic enjoys largely positive word of mouth from owners and those who have tried a game for the first time. The P3 is built to be easier to repair and upgrade than most pinball machines, making it a potentially good pick for a first time owner.
The base machine is sold for $8,300. Game kits are sold separately and can run as much as $3,000 for the latest title. Parts and support readily available from Multimorphic’s website.
- Weird Al’s Museum of Natural Hilarity
- Cosmic Cart Racing
- Lexy Lightspeed – Escape from Earth
- Cannon Lagoon
- Sorcerer’s Apprentice
- Flipper Foxtrot Rhythm Explosion
- Shoot ‘n Scoot
- Silver Falls
- Ranger in the Ruins
- Lexy Lightspeed – Secret Agent Showdown
- Heads Up!
- Grand Slam Rally
- Hoopin’ it Up
Dutch Pinball is a newer manufacturer that is steeped in controversy. Best known for their Big Lebowski themed machine, which has been in and out of production since about 2017, Dutch Pinball only began releasing machines to the public in earnest in 2022. This renewed production effort came several years after numerous problems with their first game which at one point caused Dutch Pinball’s owners to notify pre-order customers that production on their games would not be completed, triggering a slew of legal problems and community backlash for the nascent company.
Despite these issues, Dutch Pinball was eventually able to work through their problems and crank out multiple games a week by 2022. However, it remains to be seen where Dutch Pinball goes once they are done with The Big Lebowski orders. Parts availability and reliability are all considered suspect until Dutch Pinball can establish more credibility as a business and with the pinball community at large.
- The Big Lebowski Pinball
- Bride of Pinbot 2.0
Pinball Brothers is a company that has had its share of drama. Formed from the ashes of Heighway Pinball which rose to prominence with its Aliens themed pinball machine. The Heighway version of the table was plagued by production and quality issues, eventually forcing Heighway Pinball out of business before finishing production.
As original investors behind Heighway, Pinball Brothers was formed to take over Heighway’s assets and resume production of the Aliens table. They have been slowly cranking out machines to customers for the last few years.
While they have had some success getting games into the hands of customers, reliability and maintenance issues continue to plague the company. In 2021, Pinball Brothers announced Queen, as the follow-up to Aliens. However, as of the publishing of this article, those machines have yet to be sold to the broader market. For now, Pinball Brothers remains a company with potential but also with many unanswered questions.
- Aliens Pinball
- Queen (coming soon)
In 2021, Homepin announced their second machine, Spinal Tap. To date that machine has not been released, and Homepin suffers from a poor reputation among pinball enthusiasts, mostly due to the build quality of their machines.
- Spinal Tap (TBD release date)
Haggis Pinball is one of the newer manufacturers on this list.
Founded in 2019 by CEO Damian Hartin and based out of Australia, they have released one machine to date, Celts from 2021. Their second machine is a remake of Bally’s classic 1981 machine, Fathom. Fathom Revisited is currently in production, most machines have yet to make it into customers hands, so the jury is still out on this upstart company. Orders can be placed directly with Haggis Pinball on their website.
- Fathom Revisited