Pinball FX (4) is EPIC Exclusive and Unreal Engine

ODB123

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Mar 7, 2021
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Looks like it's time for me to go into digital pinball hibernation for (over) a year while I wait for Steam support. I will not be repurchasing any Zen originals. They're just not anywhere near as good as the "real" Williams machines and I couldn't care less about stupid animated character models hopping around the screen. I'm very interested in VR and have enjoyed the VR in Pinball FX2 (even though it is Zen originals), so it's disappointing that it seems we'll have to double dip if we want to play on that platform. I think Zen has done a great job with the Williams license, and I'm sure they will continue to do so, but I am not going to be forced into accepting Epic games because of it and I'm not excited about opening up my wallet again to get all the Williams releases even though I'm sure I will do so at some point.

How is there even a market at all for their fake pinball games? The quality of animation was amateurish at best back in 2013 with sorcerer's lair and has barely improved since then. Additional demerits included floaty physics, balls on rails play, and non-existent level of difficulty, making a 45 minute game possible on your very first try.

Now, they're supposedly bringing "realistic" physics to fake animated tables? That's just silly. There's no way of even gauging what realistic physics might look like on tables that don't exist and therefore have no real world reference points.

Fake zen tables always had the look and feel of cheap, free, animated tables. Even though I haven't spent a dime on zen products, I can see why their customers are loathe to pay for the same second rate products repeatedly. Then again, I can't understand why they paid in the first place to begin with.
 

Crawley

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Mar 25, 2013
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On the one hand I'm glad that Zen isn't making the same mistake as Farsight by letting their engine become outdated after a bunch of years. But it also feels like its too soon. Will have to wait and see first hand to see how big/little a jump it is.

That being said I'm likely in as I'm a sucker for any digital pinball. Hopefully it provides enough of a justifiable update to double-dip. But regardless will probably buy them anyways. Would rather on Steam but have a ton of games on Epic due to their weekly freebees and their pretty regular sales with their $10 reusable coupons.

As far as the company having to walk on eggshells with anything they say or do to not upset customers feelings always just feels so bizarre to me. When did we get this way?
 

ODB123

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Mar 7, 2021
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As far as the company having to walk on eggshells with anything they say or do to not upset customers feelings always just feels so bizarre to me. When did we get this way?

I can't stand how the company has been lying about "fixing and upgrading their servers" for over two years running. They've always got some ridiculous excuse about a "fire at the factory" or some other cover story. The reality is, they're cheap af and don't maintain their servers.

Even a polite but more realistic response of "we're doing our best but have limited resources since we're making these games available for free" would be preferable to their constant lies and endless excuses.
 

FunktionJCB

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Oct 9, 2018
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You know, Valve did the same thing when they were starting out and there was a similar hate for them in the beginning.
I'm sorry, what?
I don't know where you got that from, but Valve never paid for any exclusives, period.

Their own games were sold elsewhere even (as Steam keys, which you could activate on the service).

This isn't what Epic is doing. One thing is to release their own games on their platform, like Valve does.
Another is to pay companies not to release elsewhere (and the problem here is Steam only, since for quite a few games, Epic even allows them to be released on the Windows store; they just do this, to keep games from releasing on Steam).
 

trash80

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Dec 14, 2018
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I'm sorry, what?
I don't know where you got that from, but Valve never paid for any exclusives, period.

Their own games were sold elsewhere even (as Steam keys, which you could activate on the service).

This isn't what Epic is doing. One thing is to release their own games on their platform, like Valve does.
Another is to pay companies not to release elsewhere (and the problem here is Steam only, since for quite a few games, Epic even allows them to be released on the Windows store; they just do this, to keep games from releasing on Steam).

You must be unfamiliar with the source engine licensing scheme when Steam was starting out.
 

yespage

Member
Oct 31, 2015
449
1
As long as it ports to Switch with a reasonable fps, and they do Monopoly, I'm fine. Until they release Monopoly, I hate Zen 'cause they kicked my dog. :D
 

FunktionJCB

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Oct 9, 2018
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You must be unfamiliar with the source engine licensing scheme when Steam was starting out.

I'm not going to derail the thread further with a Valve vs Epic path, since it's secondary to the issue at hand, but again, you clearly need to re-check whatever info you read.
Valve never paid any company to release games exclusively on Steam. Period.
Also, plenty of source engine games were never released on Steam. Asian games, arcade games, (...). You were never obligated to release your game on Steam, as long as you paid for a Source Engine license.

Yes, the licensing agreement had something like, quote «You can only sell your Source Engine game via Steam unless you get a full Source Engine license».
As it should be easy to understand, that means that you can release your game anywhere you'd like, as long as you get a full Source Engine license. Not really what you were saying.

Comparing what Epic has been doing with the EGS, the most bullish form of exclusivity I can think of, with this, is a joke.
I mean, you have a company here that:
-signs deals for games that have been up to pre-order on Steam for months, at the very last minute, literally days before they launch, just to make them unavailable on Steam (Metro: Exodus, Anno 1800, ...);
-signs deals with crowdfunded games when they are about to launch, in a sad attempt to force backers who were promised Steam or GOG keys, or even DRM-free downloads, into using their store (it happened to several games I backed: Phoenix Point, Shenmue 3, ...).
-and similar deals.

Say what you want about Valve, and Steam, but they never paid any money so that a game wouldn't launch on another store.
 

trash80

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Dec 14, 2018
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I'm not going to derail the thread further with a Valve vs Epic path, since it's secondary to the issue at hand, but again, you clearly need to re-check whatever info you read.
Valve never paid any company to release games exclusively on Steam. Period.
Also, plenty of source engine games were never released on Steam. Asian games, arcade games, (...). You were never obligated to release your game on Steam, as long as you paid for a Source Engine license.

Yes, the licensing agreement had something like, quote «You can only sell your Source Engine game via Steam unless you get a full Source Engine license».
As it should be easy to understand, that means that you can release your game anywhere you'd like, as long as you get a full Source Engine license. Not really what you were saying.

Comparing what Epic has been doing with the EGS, the most bullish form of exclusivity I can think of, with this, is a joke.
I mean, you have a company here that:
-signs deals for games that have been up to pre-order on Steam for months, at the very last minute, literally days before they launch, just to make them unavailable on Steam (Metro: Exodus, Anno 1800, ...);
-signs deals with crowdfunded games when they are about to launch, in a sad attempt to force backers who were promised Steam or GOG keys, or even DRM-free downloads, into using their store (it happened to several games I backed: Phoenix Point, Shenmue 3, ...).
-and similar deals.

Say what you want about Valve, and Steam, but they never paid any money so that a game wouldn't launch on another store.

Zen is using the Unreal Engine for the new Pinball FX, just as they have on their previous EGS exclusive games. Semantics are just that, while the bottom line is the bottom line. If you feel that Valve's licensing practices with the source engine did not restrict some games from being made available on the Games for Windows and Impulse digital store fronts, well then I guess you weren't there as I was.

And no one is forcing a company to use UE or to go EGS exclusive. But as a company you have to do what you think is best. And while I am personally not a huge fan of Epic as a digital storefront, as a company they have been quite transparent of their motives and methods, while Valve has always been a black hole when it comes to business dealings.

The pros of EGS are:
12% vs 30% fees (Valve will lower fees for exclusivity and other concessions)
Guaranteed sales projection offset to licensing costs and/or signing bonuses
No offsite unrestricted CD key sales
No storefront forum or review hub to moderate
No DRM required

Some of these benefits are allowing Zen to secure new IP and bring us tables that have been requested by many of us here on this forum.
 
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shutyertrap

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Mar 14, 2012
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Some of these benefits are allowing Zen to secure new IP and bring us tables that have been requested by many of us here on this forum.

I can't stress how much I think this is a factor in things. People desperately want Zen to put out the licensed DMD machines. I often see that followed up with "I'd be willing to pay $10, $20 for XXXX title" with all the original art, music, and voice. Well Zen is trying to find a way to work out the financials so that people don't have to pay a huge upcharge. If Zen is to secure the Stern license, they'd better not follow in FarSight's footsteps of not having a plan for then paying the IP license. Mel stated that Epic is allowing them to more easily get IP's they didn't have before, and considering some of the IPs that have been put into Fortnite (I'm not even a player and I've taken notice of a few) I think we can all see where that might go.

My main question to those that are frustrated as consumers (and I totally get that, believe me), what would you do if you were running Zen? I mean seriously, if you were trying to make sure your pinball game was viable for the future, that you were trying to grow your company (and Mel said they are doing just that by hiring a massive bunch of people for the pinball division), while also trying to meet the demands of what your consumers want within the game, what business decisions would you make? Not looking for pithy answers or those that are unrealistic. Put on your COO hat and explain decisions you would make about...

- growing the game with a graphics engine that can't keep up with technological hardware changes consumers are using
- purchasing licenses consumers want while keeping the cost of the game down
- keeping licensors you are already in business with happy so that they'll renew licenses for you to sell what you have already made while making new product too
- maintaining a library of titles to keep them fresh rather than looking old and dated
- attracting new consumers while maintaining your base
- adding features to the game that consumers want even though it will be labor instensive

Game studios cannot be stagnate. You grow or you die trying. Pretty sure Blizzard pissed off a few consumers on their way up the to the peak, and honestly it's the same trajectory I see Zen striving for.
 

FunktionJCB

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Oct 9, 2018
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If you feel that Valve's licensing practices with the source engine did not restrict some games from being made available on the Games for Windows and Impulse digital store fronts, well then I guess you weren't there as I was.
But I was. :)
I use Steam since day one (I even pre-registered the account, during a pre-launch period where you could reserve you names).

The pros of EGS are:
12% vs 30% fees (Valve will lower fees for exclusivity and other concessions)

...while Valve takes no cut on the keys you sell outside of Steam. Say, if a developer sells Steam keys on the game's official website (or another authorized store), Valve gets nothing from those Steam keys. For many games that ends up balancing this distribution.

No storefront forum or review hub to moderate

Since when the lack of forums and reviews is a positive?
Say what you want about the Steam forums, but I met plenty of people there to play with, and I found plenty of solutions to problems I was experiencing there, so despite some toxic people (that exist pretty much everywhere on the internet), I think the positives far outweigh the negatives.

As for the lack of reviews, how is that a positive? Seeing if users have a positive or negative impression of a game is bad, exactly why?
Should developers live in a bubble, shielded from any feedback?

No DRM required

You do know Steam isn't a DRM solution, right? It has one included, but you are not forced to use any form of DRM with your games on Steam.
I have plenty of games on Steam that are fully DRM-free. I download them, and I can play them offline, without Steam even installed, I can copy them to another PC, (...)

Some of these benefits are allowing Zen to secure new IP and bring us tables that have been requested by many of us here on this forum.
I see this speech for every EGS exclusive. I'm yet to see a game where that actually was true.

Speaking of Zen, they said the same thing about Operencia, their first exclusive. I was a beta tester (on Steam) for the game. The game barely changed.

---

I understand you have no problems with the move, and are fully on board no matter what Zen does, or where it takes the game.

In my case, I personally think it's a very crappy move to throw away an existing community, to take the game to a place where there's not even any community features.

And, speaking personally, after what Epic did with a few games I crowdfunded, they ensured I'm never using their store. I buy and play games on Steam, GOG, Origin, Uplay, Humble, itch.io, and plenty of other places, so I'm no stranger to using platforms outside of Steam. But, I refuse to support a company that thinks they can force me into using their crappy store at any cost.

---

Oh well, thankfully I have the full collection of Zaccaria Pinball tables, the full collection of Pinball Arcade tables (including plenty of tables that probably won't ever make it to FX), and pretty much everything pinball-related available on Steam (even a... Strip Pinball game! :cool:), so if Zen doesn't want my money, I'm fine with it.

I just wish a new player would come around, and start releasing some competing tables. With FarSight gone, I would gladly welcome if the guys at Magic Pixel would take over the licensing to Stern/Gottlieb tables, or some other brand currently under-represented.
 
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trash80

New member
Dec 14, 2018
471
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I can't stress how much I think this is a factor in things. People desperately want Zen to put out the licensed DMD machines. I often see that followed up with "I'd be willing to pay $10, $20 for XXXX title" with all the original art, music, and voice. Well Zen is trying to find a way to work out the financials so that people don't have to pay a huge upcharge. If Zen is to secure the Stern license, they'd better not follow in FarSight's footsteps of not having a plan for then paying the IP license. Mel stated that Epic is allowing them to more easily get IP's they didn't have before, and considering some of the IPs that have been put into Fortnite (I'm not even a player and I've taken notice of a few) I think we can all see where that might go.

My main question to those that are frustrated as consumers (and I totally get that, believe me), what would you do if you were running Zen? I mean seriously, if you were trying to make sure your pinball game was viable for the future, that you were trying to grow your company (and Mel said they are doing just that by hiring a massive bunch of people for the pinball division), while also trying to meet the demands of what your consumers want within the game, what business decisions would you make? Not looking for pithy answers or those that are unrealistic. Put on your COO hat and explain decisions you would make about...

- growing the game with a graphics engine that can't keep up with technological hardware changes consumers are using
- purchasing licenses consumers want while keeping the cost of the game down
- keeping licensors you are already in business with happy so that they'll renew licenses for you to sell what you have already made while making new product too
- maintaining a library of titles to keep them fresh rather than looking old and dated
- attracting new consumers while maintaining your base
- adding features to the game that consumers want even though it will be labor instensive

Game studios cannot be stagnate. You grow or you die trying. Pretty sure Blizzard pissed off a few consumers on their way up the to the peak, and honestly it's the same trajectory I see Zen striving for.

If we are to look at Zen and the upcoming Pinball FX platform without the baggage that is/was FX2 and FX3, then I'd be doing almost everything that Zen is already doing. Though I'd aggressively pursue licensors with combined standard and VR agreements to allow for a more unified Pinball FX product. In addition...

1. Drop some of the early original tables
2. Pare back some of the Star Wars and Marvel tables
3. Do everything possible to bring Indiana Jones out as a Pinball FX first day DLC
4. Sign a sharing agreement with PAPA or other Pinball Tournament association to host digital tournaments in conjunction with the physical table tournaments and leagues.
5. Hire some real pinball designers (Maybe get some from Deeproot, Spooky, etc.) for one off original table creations
6. Release a modified UE development environment that uses only Zen resources for player made tables
 

ODB123

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Mar 7, 2021
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I don't know if they're attracting new customers at all or even if they're trying to. Their main goal is to keep pillaging their existing customer base over and over and over and over again, knowing console sales, video game play, and screen on time are going through the roof in the past year and will continue to do so.

They know they have a captive market, hence their greed and their weirdly PC "don't criticize us for anything, ever, that's just bad vibes bro" pompous lecturing.

The sh*t's going to hit the fan soon enough and I'll be LMAO when it goes down.

Keep blaming the pandemic for all of your mistakes whilst ignoring CDC guidelines Mel! That's a great look for you and yours!
 

Xanija

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Staff member
May 29, 2013
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[MENTION=8007]ODB123[/MENTION]

Consider this your final warning. If I see any more attacks on a personal level from you, I will take out the ban hammer. Unless another mod is quicker.
 

trash80

New member
Dec 14, 2018
471
0
I don't know if they're attracting new customers at all or even if they're trying to. Their main goal is to keep pillaging their existing customer base over and over and over and over again, knowing console sales, video game play, and screen on time are going through the roof in the past year and will continue to do so.
They know they have a captive market, hence their greed and their weirdly PC "don't criticize us for anything, ever, that's just bad vibes bro" pompous lecturing.
The sh*t's going to hit the fan soon enough and I'll be LMAO when it goes down.
Keep blaming the pandemic for all of your mistakes whilst ignoring CDC guidelines Mel! That's a great look for you and yours!

You really are the gift that keeps on giving. To respond in a serious manner...

Zen dramatically increased their pinball customer base with the release of the Williams mobile app. They also dramatically increased their revenue and customer engagement due to the Williams app and associated business model. While this is obviously great for Zen, it was quite ominous for us traditional pinball fans. Does this mean Zen will attempt to incorporate a freemium model in their other pinball platforms? Will Zen begin pursuing IP that appeals more to the Asian market than the Western one?

One thing we know for certain is that Zen was able to secure a robust publishing infrastructure and substantial capital with the Embracer Group deal, and this deal would have been unlikely without the success of the mobile app and the direction that Zen has taken with their RPG properties. So it would seem that Zen is in fact attracting many new customers and they are also in the key demographics which skew much younger than your typical traditional pinball fan. The whole Pinball Royale thing would suggest that Zen is doubling down on capturing more in this demographic.
 
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vfpcoder

Member
Jul 9, 2012
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More and more, I'm forever grateful that I purchased the FarSight/Arcooda cabinet package back in June 2018. For cabinet play, it's still better than what Zen is currently offering in FX3. And I still have access to all of the tables that I contributed to Kickstarter campaigns for.

This is a hobby, though. And with any hobby it's just a matter of how much fun you're obtaining from any given purchase. The amount of money that needs to be expended doesn't really matter (if its within budget). And therefore paying for upgrades doesn't matter -- as long as the fun factor is sufficiently ramped-up by the upgrade.

I will, therefore, gladly follow Zen to the Epic storefront *IF* they finally provide decent cabinet support with DMD and integrated animated backglasses -- configurable for both two monitor and three monitor cabs. They also need to provide support for feedback accessories like solenoids, accelerometers, and LED flashers. We know they have some of the feedback support already developed due to their collaboration with Arcade1UP. (Speaking of which, how do they intend to continue to support those Arcade1UP cabs without continuing FX3 support? But that's a question for another topic.)

As far as FarSight "being out of the pinball business", there are still some embers of life stirring around due to their collaboration with AtGames on their "Legends" Pinball cabinet. I don't think they're quite dead yet, and I for one would support them should they ever start adding new tables to the The Pinball Arcade (or a successor) again. We know they are working on some new native tables for the "Legends" cabinet. Who knows where that will lead?
 

ODB123

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Mar 7, 2021
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You really are the gift that keeps on giving. To respond in a serious manner...

Zen dramatically increased their pinball customer base with the release of the Williams mobile app.

Let's see the figures. Someone needs to doublecheck this guy's math--last we checked, he couldn't count past 820.

So it would seem that Zen is in fact attracting many new customers and they are also in the key demographics which skew much younger than your typical traditional pinball fan. The whole Pinball Royale thing would suggest that Zen is doubling down on capturing more in this demographic.

It would "seem?" Yeah, just like it would "seem" that your 6 year old chipset runs everything "perfectly" yet higher grade chipsets can't.

It would "suggest?"

"Key demographics?!?"

"The whole thing?"

This guy is constantly spouting nonsense and delusional speculation as if it were fact.

He delivers the trash, all right. Too bad no one's around to take it out.

More and more, I'm forever grateful that I purchased the FarSight/Arcooda cabinet package back in June 2018. For cabinet play, it's still better than what Zen is currently offering in FX3. And I still have access to all of the tables that I contributed to Kickstarter campaigns for.

This is a hobby, though. And with any hobby it's just a matter of how much fun you're obtaining from any given purchase. The amount of money that needs to be expended doesn't really matter (if its within budget). And therefore paying for upgrades doesn't matter -- as long as the fun factor is sufficiently ramped-up by the upgrade.

I don't have a vested interest in FX3: I simply have no interest in fantasy based tables. What I have heard from those who are however, is that re-purchasing the "remastered tables" with a platform change would only incentivize zen and/or epic to keep forcing repurchases, perhaps even annually.

Then, it's on to a subscription system where you have zero access to "your" or actually their tables, after 30 days unless you pony up indefinitely month after month.

This notion of "remastering" is bogus however. It's not really bringing the tables any closer to reality because they don't exist in reality. Bringing "realistic" physics to imaginary tables makes absolutely no sense since there is no reference for how the table is actually supposed to play.

It won't be "pro" and it won't be "realistic." The williams tables physics already differ radically from one volume and table to the next, so even there, there is no baseline of what "pro" is. All we know is that it allows for the same flipper tricks implemented in the williams tables, which may or may not be worth the $300 to $400 required to repurchase the "remasters."

As far as the new lighting, many could barely tell the difference.

At this point, zen's ability to bait and troll their customer base is more entertaining than the tables they are actually able to deliver, which are either few or none.
 
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ODB123

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Mar 7, 2021
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Steam forums are on fire!

The kissass fanboys are butthurt to oblivion that they're allowed to tell the truth over there, free of stockholm syndrome kneejerk censorship on "fan forums" LMAO!
 
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