After the Dollar: A Review of the IFPA’s Endorsement Fee by Dennis Kriesel -...

Pretty interesting analysis. Main takeaway for me is that it looks like the incentive to qualify, or improve your seed, given the increased payouts for State/Province finals, may have had a significant positive effect on the number of players attending more events, although it did not attract lots of new folks, or at least increase the number of unique players year on year by much.

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It’s hard to say. While the total attendance growing by 18,081 people is large, the growth rate of 15.63% is actually the slowest growth rate in attendance my data has (going back to 2009 figures). It would appear your supposition is that without the dollar fee this growth rate would have been even smaller. Given the past data trends, I’d suspect the opposite, that the dollar did have a slowing impact but the growth level is still, quite frankly, massive.

Anecdotally, in our area we did see players near the cusp of SCS enter more events to try and improve their standings. I don’t know if it was more than normal. If so, I’d suspect the chance to win money would be a factor. Regardless, the data (to me) clearly shows competitive pinball did not shrink by any major measure (defined as the ones I chose!) due to the $1 fee, but the fee may have slowed the growth speed to some extent. Hard to say, as I noted in the article, there’s an upper level of what a single person can attend and a single venue can have organized, so these are factors as well that we lack variables on to consider.

Another data point that someone else had me run from our database was “number of players that played in 5 or more events in a calendar year”.

Here’s those results:
2018 --> 6513
2017 --> 5506
2016 --> 4810
2015 --> 3891


It absolutely did for me. I made the effort to play in more local events than I would otherwise to guarantee an SCS payout. And I lucked into finishing 3rd in Illinois, for the most money I’ve ever won playing pinball (unless you count Pinburgh, where my payouts are always right around a show ticket + tourney entry, for a net win of basically zero).

True, it’s pretty much impossible to untangle the “dollar effect” from all these other factors, unless you polled folks in IFPA. Has IFPA ever conducted, or considered conducting, a survey of folks in the system on questions along these lines - such as ranking factors that led you to attend more or less events?

Even then, there are only so many locations and evenings to hold events, and I have to believe that has as much to do with stemming of growth rate as the almighty dollar.

All these stats though - they’re global stats right? And the endorsement fee only applies to the US based events right?

That was always the trick in my back pocket. The numbers definitely include international growth that were not hindered by any endorsement fee.

The US event numbers are actually down 30%, but I’m not willing to tell anyone that publicly (j/k).


I have to guess that Seattle’s events dropped at least 70%. And the percentage of point giving events that end before 1 AM is very low.

Big picture, I get it. But personally, my tournament involvement has plummeted.

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We don’t track Seattle, but we do track Washington, and yeah, WA was wayyyyyyy down.

2018 events --> 333
2017 events --> 525

Down 37%. The numbers can skew greatly though when you have an event that was weekly either go away altogether, or change to reporting monthly or quarterly.

If any tournaments completely folded because of the $1 fee rather than just running as “non-IFPA” events . . . that’s really disheartening to hear.

I don’t know of any case where that happened, yet.

Still, that’s less of a decline than I expected. The big impact was the death of prob 3 or 4 weeklies.

Number of non-test tournaments created on Match Play each month since January 2015. I don’t think this is a thing that’s happened in any significant way.

AAB seems to be back in IFPA calendar recently. 8bit went for a series of kind with once a month IFPA results. FFDD still off the book for the weekly but attendance is good.

Plenty of options for everyone really :slight_smile:

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I’d say the Orange County Pinball League in SoCal could be a casualty from this. The founder didn’t want to get into the business of paying or charging members at all and decided to move to a monthly non-ifpa format. Attendance plummeted, and regular monthly events are now no longer on the schedule. At one point the league had 80+ active members.


Pass me the names of those that dropped so I can lecture them on the real reasons why anyone should be playing competitive pinball :slight_smile:

While I personally don’t care for the $1 fee, it doesn’t affect my attendance one way or the other. And I would guess the attendance in Seattle is up overall along with the number of events, it’s just that we now use the Haugstrup / Adcock equation for determining the strength of an individual player for local events, so there’s less incentive to get IFPA points if you’re not gunning to make the SCS.

Looks like the OC Pinball League (aka @Bdiv4life’s personal WPPR farm :wink: ) attendance plummeted in 2017 (before the $1 fee), at least for one year. Unless I’m missing something from the results posted:
70 players in 2016.
Only 19 players in 2017.
Then rebounded to 40 players in 2018 (with $1 fee).

With respect to the OC league, I heard more griping about the new league format then anything so I think most players had that as a reason to choose to skip it. And with regular leagues at 82, Ayce and Mission Control along with plenty of monthlies at all of the above, there are jsut so so many more options for players in the LA area than there were just a couple years ago. So I think the OC league, which was practically the only game in town for a decade or more, became a casualty of competition more than anything. As an aside, It’s been personally gratifying to see location pinball make a comeback in the area as well, OC league was almost entirely private collections.

As for the $1 fee, none of my players care (probably because I’m dealing with it and they’re not) and it’s clear that having a WPPR dramatically drives engagement in my events so I’m going to keep running IFPA endorsed events until that changes.


I am against any fee and/or ranking structure that does not give @SPECIALS incentive to play over 300 tournaments a year.


This down 30% was a joke. I actually ran the numbers on US events only for the past 3 years. Dollargate be damned!

2018 --> 4071 events (+22%)

2017 --> 3332 events (+34%)

2016 --> 2493 events

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Any reps here who felt extra stress running your state/province finals, or was the prize pool a non-factor? If you’ve been a rep for multiple years, did this one feel different with more cash on the line?

In Ohio we had around $5k in the prize pool and with that much money on the line comes extra scrutiny from the players and puts pressure on the rep to make everything perfect. @ArcadeSuperAwesome did an amazing job and put in a ridiculous amount hard work leading up to the event. I talked to him a good bit around that time, and even though he’s an experienced TD he mostly runs low payout and charity events, so having that much cash on the line was a new experience. I don’t want to speak for him, but from my perspective it seemed to add a significant amount of stress and I was not envious of his position at all.

The prize pools are definitely exciting and it’s fun for the players to get in some high stakes action, but I’m just curious if it’s had any effect on the reps and their willingness to continue doing a largely thankless job for little or no payment. What if these local prize pools grow to a crazy amount that no TD wants to have the responsibility for? Does that ceiling even exist?