Before I say anything else, I will say that I, also, want pinball to be more popular. But because I want to understand why more clearly, I hope you all don't mind if I play devil's advocate.
I've observed in some fighting game circles, some pretty livid opposition to fighting game competitions entering the Esports umbrella, as the increased growth will lead to increased visibility, and that would require their pro players to behave, well, more professionally. There are some fighting game fans who really like the drunk party feel that some competitions, even some high-level ones have, and stuff like corporate sponsorship from Pepsi and Wells Fargo and the like means they can no longer hurl trash talk, swear like sailors, shout out memes, and otherwise scream.
I know pinball is nothing like that, but I wanted to point out an example of a group of people who oppose large sponsorship.
Heh, that's pretty succinct. "FAME." On the other hand, there are plenty of fans of things who don't want fame, as it means there'll be an influx of newcomers coming in, which can get annoying for them real fast. A good example is the Eternal September, a derogatory term coined by Usenet people to refer to the hordes of newcomers going online and using the Internet, which overwhelmed the small communities that were there before. (The "Steptember" part refers to how a college year would begin on a September, and with new students joining computer science classes, there'd be lots of newcomers the veterans would have to endure very September.)
In other words, to some, fame is a bad thing because it means the end of the small communities they've grown attached to.
For the first point, I can argue that there are already plenty of people into pinball you can socialize with and that you don't really need more. (I can't argue with the other three points though.)
That's a good point. I'd guess that while all of the people who make replacement parts do so out of a labor of love, they can't just give them away for free the way people can do wit, say, fan translations or game mods.
See, I've been in some fanbases that were on the verge of extinction or have had brushes with death, and I STILL would see some people choose to let it die instead of appealing to the masses.
This happened with fans of Sonic the Hedgehog when SEGA was near bankruptcy, for instance. SEGA became a third-party company in response and pulled out of the brink, but the sheer rage in some circles were hard to believe. There were plenty of fans who would rather SEGA meet its end than alternatives (the most bizarre being fervent soldiers in the Console Wars, who were terrified at SEGA games being on Nintendo systems).
The idea behind this mindset is that while there would be no new work for whatever they're a fan of, they can still enjoy the past work for the remainder of their days.
I'm actually a bit surprised we didn't see this happening with the departure of Bally and Williams in 1999 to 2000, considering the Stern hate right afterwards.
Hmm, now that I think about it, video games and anime have gone through a lot of changes in their fanbases too. The anime fans of the 80's would be totally different than today's, for instance, as anime in the 80's was largely about hyperviolence, post-apocalyptic settings, and hot-blooded manliness, and are nothing like today's anime, which have much softer character design and writing, are commonly set in schools, and often aimed at people of the opposite sex as the protagonist. The people modern anime would appeal to are totally different than the ones from thirty years ago. And video games, with evolving technology and fads and trends coming and going, have had shifts too. The Minecraft kids would've likely found 8-bit gaming unplayable. In both cases, the fans of the older stuff have pretty much cut themselves off from the rest of society at large, or at least keep their interests a secret, knowing most of their co-workers and family would have little in common with them.
I wonder if what people are actually fearing is sudden change, considering in both cases, as trends changed, some people would leave and be replaced by newcomers, but it happens gradually, over a course of many years, and the size of people into anime and video games is growing, but slowly.
It's why I find it a bit curious that pinball, and seemingly only pinball (among the fanbases I've observed), is willing and ready to bring in large amounts of newcomers. Everywhere else I went to, while the casual and semi-casual fans feel that way too, the hardcore really like the secluded nature of what they're into. I guess an analogy would be living in a very small town with a low population--some people move there because they don't like the company of a lot of people and are at their happiest in small groups, and big cities simply have too many people.
I would say though, while I don't working anything pinball-related, seeing the faces light up on people when they play pinball is a very, very nice feeling to have, and I'd like to see more of that too. Unfortunately, the experiences I've had with other fandoms has created a little devil on the shoulder that tells me, "This might be trouble."