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A huge thanks to Dennis Kriesel of the Eclectic Gamers Podcast for this interesting article on the growth of pinball!  Check out the Eclectic Gamers Podcast here, and their Facebook page here!
The Growth of Pinball: An Evidence-Based Review
by Dennis Kriesel
In the current climate of the pinball hobby, it is commonly accepted that pinball is in a growth period. This is often expressed in a variety of ways. A pinball resurgence. The renaissance of pinball. The return of analog entertainment. Regardless of phrasing, the same general concept is in play. Things were once good, then they got bad. Now, they are good once more.
This general feeling of growth makes a lot of sense, but how can it actually be measured? There are a variety of variables that could work, but many of those are limited by a lack of good data. This brief article shall explore growth on two fronts: ownership and competitive play.
Pinball manufacturing counts would be the ideal way to measure any sort of ownership, but many companies at this stage do not release production figures (outside of limited production models). As such, a proxy for the information is required. This is where the popular pinball forum Pinside comes into play.
On Pinside, site users may tag games within the Pinside database as being owned. The database itself is quite comprehensive, so that does not pose a problem. There are a number of flaws with the methodology, however:

Owners have to self-report (and may not report fully, accurately, or remember to update when a game comes or goes from a collection)
Pinside’s forum discussions often revolve around collecting, and it may not be a good source of data