Utah pinball enthusiasts think smartphone connectivity will boost the game’s popularity

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — While Utah isn’t exactly known for having a huge pinball community, that doesn’t mean the interest isn’t here.

The beehive state has a few arcades that hold tournaments with some excellent pinball players, but now a tech upgrade could be the thing they need to attract more casual players.

Stern Pinball announced the Insider Connected platform on their website and they said it will track player performance and help maintain pinball machines by notifying the owners when they aren’t working properly and let them make adjustments remotely.

Players will be able to sign up and use their unique QR code to log into machines.

When a player logs into a pinball machine, they can track their progress, earn new game-specific achievements, connect with other people in the player community, and take part in Challenge Quests.

Kelly Thomson, a pinball enthusiast who rents out and repairs machines through his company Utah Pinball Repair said he thinks the new platform will be a great addition.

“It does the two-fold thing of teaching somebody how to play the game, but also gives them something to show for what they’ve accomplished while playing,” said Thomson.

Adam Pratt, the owner of Arcade Galactic in West Valley City agrees that this platform could attract more players.

“This is modernizing pinball in a way that has been needed for a long time. This is also a great way to bring those new people in and have them discover what pinball is all about,” said Pratt.

While these are the only features that have been announced by Stern there’s potential for new ones to be added over time, like mobile payments, removing the need for physical tokens or coins.

Thomson said, “Largely it’s a cashless world, so just making it easier for people to play a game is definitely a plus.”

“That’s definitely the trend that most companies in the amusement industry are going towards as cashless is taking over,” said Pratt.

By the end of the year, all of the new Stern Pinball machines will come with the Insider Connected system installed.

Existing Stern games that are newer can be added to the network with a retrofit kit, which is something Pratt said he will consider.

The owner of Arcade Galactic said, “If there was a reasonable cost and an easy way to integrate it, absolutely.”

Both Thomson and Pratt hope that pinball machine owners will be able to add the Insider Connected system to machines that are a lot older too.

The Stern Insider Connected App is not available yet, but you can sign up for an account online, that way you’re ready to start tracking your performance and earn achievements when it does go live.