Pinflation 2022: Slower Rising Prices

Pinflation is still here, with overall average used pinball machine prices up 21% so far this year. But the newest cohort of games (2010 to 2022) often grab the eye of the pinball enthusiasts and with those machines up almost $1700 in 2020 and an additional $1200 in 2022, it’s hard to celebrate slower rising prices.

by Ted Finlay, Ph.D.


Last year the number one topic on the podcasts, Pinside and Facebook was Pinflation. We reported on TWIP that through the first six months of 2021 (Pinflation: The Data) used pinball prices were up $696 or 21% versus full year 2020.  By the time the 2021 closed out our PinballPrices.com analysis showed Pinflation, like a bad hurricane, had strengthened, increasing used prices 31% or $1,038 on average. That was 2021. So, how have we fared in 2022?

Used Pinball Average Price1

The average price of a used pinball machine in 2022 is $5,283.  This is an increase of $931 on top of last year’s increase of $1,038 (see Chart 1). The good news, if you can call it that, is that the increases have slowed in 2022 to only a 21% rise versus last year’s 31% increase.  Looking a little further back is painful. The average used pinball machine in 2022 is 156% higher than it was in 2018.  Remember, this is an average price and includes all types of used pinballs from early electro-mechanical (EM) “project” sales to NOB mint Godzilla LE flips.  So, let’s break that down in a little more detail.

Average Pinball Used Price
Chart 1

EMs vs. Modern

The first breakout we can look at is between EM’s (1976 and older) and modern (1977+) games. The pinflation differences are staggering (see Chart 2). Since 2018, EMs have only increased by 15% over four years, a mere $154. Solid state games over that same time are up 131%. That’s a $3,500 increase in four years!  But pinflation, even for the newer games, is slowing down. The largest jump for modern games came in 2021, increasing more than $1300 in a single year – a 33% increase. Prices for 2022 are up just under $1000.

Average Price EMs Vs Solid State
Chart 2

Part of the explanation for these differences are higher MSRPs for new releases. Pinheads are a fickle bunch and even if we don’t consider market flippers, many modern games only last a few months in a collection before being moved along, often for prices higher than new.

Pinflation by Game Era

Using our PinballPrices.com database of more than 8,300 sale records, we can break down the data even further by looking at current prices and price changes by game era. Table 1 shows the average used pinball price by year sold and game era. If you want to purchase a used game manufactured in the past 12 years, on average it will cost you just over $10,000. That is a $2,900 jump in just the past two years. But again, the good news, those yearly increases are slowing down. This year the newest used games are up only 14% compared to 24% in 2021.

Pinflation by Game Era
Table 1

Want one of those classic 80’s William’s games like Black Knight or F-14 Tomcat? You will pay around $2800. But move up to the 90’s titles like No Good Gofers and Whirlwind, you pay almost double those 80’s prices. But again, price increases are slowing. Except for 1980-1989 games, all other eras saw a lower percentage increase this year than in 2021. Differences by era can quickly be seen in Chart 3.

Avg Pinball Price By Year and Era
Chart 3

Pinflation is still here, with overall average used pinball machine prices up 21% so far this year. But the newest cohort of games (2010 to 2022) often grab the eye of the pinball enthusiasts and with those machines up almost $1700 in 2020 and an additional $1200 in 2022, it’s hard to celebrate slower rising prices.

The Data

This analysis was conducted using the PinballPrices.com database (owned and operated by the author) of 8,316 verified sales records of used pinball machines totaling over $28 million in tracked sales for more than 1,300 titles.  For the years included in this analysis the sample sizes were:

YearNumber of Sales
2022 1279
2021 1616
2020 1801
2019 1701
2018 1402

Sales records are manually transcribed from Pinside.com, eBay, Liveauctioneers.com, and several other online auction sites based on final sales price, not asking price.  Only sales records that include the final sales price are included. For auction sites the sales price recorded includes the “Buyer’s Premium”, usually ranging from 10% to 28%. Data that is not accepted includes any sale that includes “Free Shipping”, eBay sales marked as “Best Offer Accepted” (without indicating the actual price) and Facebook Market or Craigslist sales because there is no record of the actual price paid. Multiple sources are used because this more accurately reflects the total marketplace of buyers, not just “hard core” hobbyists.  For more information visit PinballPrices.com.

Note 1: The “average” is the arithmetic mean of all recorded sales of used pinball machines. This includes machines in a variety of seller reported conditions from non-working projects to fully restored pinballs. It does not include partial machines (cabinet only, back box missing, etc.).

Disclaimer: Any articles, interviews, or mentions of pinball manufacturers or pinball products is NOT an endorsement.

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Johnny Pinball
Johnny Pinball
19 days ago

I would like to see a comparison by generation. Solid state 1978-1985, Alphanumeric 1986-1991, Golden Age DMD 1991-1998, Stern DMD 1999-2016 and then LCD games.

Doc
Doc
Reply to  Johnny Pinball
19 days ago

I could do that also. Maybe right after the holidays. Thanks for the suggestion.

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