I recently read this within the UKPinfest review on Pinball News. I tend to agree with its sentiment.
> Interestingly, after having played the newest games we heard the same comments over and over; that the rules have become too complicated and unintuitive, that they are written by top players for other top players, and average players are simply giving up on ever hoping to learn them.
I’m not a fan of games where to get good at them you need to not just practice on them but memorize a set of rules the size of a 50-page users manual. Yes, having more features available as the years progressed has been a good thing. Lane change beats no lane change. Modes where some shots become more important than others are good. Bonus and shot multipliers are good, but IMO only up to a point. Lately, it seems to have turned into a “mine is more complicated than yours” festival. Just because you can make games more complex doesn’t mean you should. Witness the gap in scores between “good” games and “great” games by machine vintage. It used to be from 2:1 to perhaps 5:1. Now, it’s often 10:1 or more. Joe and Jane “pretty good” are getting left in the dust and feeling inadequate. The hobby is becoming a bit too inbred. It may be too late to change it, but it’d be nice if we had some new games with rules that weren’t designed like they were primarily intended to impress IFPA World Championship attendees. New game play features, sure, add them if they’re fun. But let’s not make people feel like they need to go to night school to have a shot at getting their initials on the game.
Where is the “sweet spot”? From the reactions of people I’ve helped, I estimate something like Monster Bash plus a very few and clearly-defined shot and playfield multipliers. Definitely not anything from the last few years; even GoT was too much for most people with all those confusing Houses. It’s probably too far when someone asks you how to play a game and you spend the next 5 minutes asking them about their skill level and existing knowledge of the game to guess which strategy to suggest rather than just answering the question.
In fairness, not all 2000’s games have this problem. Tron, NASCAR, PotC and CSI are pretty accessible. But the trend is going the wrong way for the casual-to-good player. Bottom line is, we’re becoming elitist - - “let’s make the rules such that we can show off how much better we experts are than everybody else” - - and I don’t think that’s a good thing.