My name is Mark Schneider. I played my first pinball machine when I was 10 years old and I loved it. I became a devoted pinball machine player and still am to this day. I also enjoy playing classic arcade video games. The Late 1970′s and early 1980′s were a boom time for Pinball and Video games. It was a fun and exciting time to be a player. I consider myself an enthusiastic teenage player who seized a rare opportunity in 1983 with just a few dollars to my name to turn my favourite activity playing games into a full time business and career servicing and operating them. My career in the Coin Operated Pinball Machine and Arcade video game game business has been continuous to this day.
Over the decades I have gained considerable experience in just about every aspect of coin operated Pinball machines and Video games. My first decade was largely spent providing service and repairs. I am an electro mechanical and electronics technician and I continue using these valuable skills diagnosing and repairing games on a daily basis. I also operated Pinballs and Video games in both street locations and amusement centres for over 20 years.
In 1991 a friend and I started a business together. We both had a passion for pinball machines and together we began importing them and re establishing a distribution network in Australia for Gottlieb Premier brand. After 3 years I exited the distribution arena while my partner continued. I enjoyed my time as a Distributor but it was not my biggest passion. I could see a downward trend coming, so I felt it was time to depart from distributing and focus on my passion for operating games in my Amusement Centres (or fun parlours as they were once known) and installing games on profit share in locations, typically Fish and Chip shops, Pubs, Video libraries etc. I also continued providing service and repairs to others in the industry along with sales of reconditioned pinball machines and video games.
In 1995 a worldwide slump began. By 1997 it was clear the slump was a downward trend and it continued unabated. By the end of 1999 the industry was less than half its’ size and the decline which was the biggest in the industry’s history continued, in fact it was never to recover. By 2000 most manufacturers had closed leaving Stern pinball as the only pinball maker. The same year the goods and services tax (GST) was introduced in Australia. The GST was effectively a turnover tax for the industry and yet another burden a declining industry could ill afford. We could not viably change the price of a game to $1.10 per game to collect a 10% GST! I began to close amusement centre operations along with cutting back games on other locations in 2001-02. The industry decline continued and by June 2005 I had sold off the last of my games located in Fish and Chip shops. It was a sad time as I really enjoyed operating games. It was always fun trying and buying new games and a challenge to choose games players would like. It’s a sector I remember fondly and still miss.
Since 2005 my business has focused exclusively on the home market, primarily providing service and repairs to people with pinball and video games in their homes along with sales, refurbishing and restoration of pinball machines and classic video games games. In 2007, I decided we should begin manufacturing new high quality authentic style 80′s table video games along side pinball and video game sales and servicing. The home market was the only industry sector that was steady throughout my career. In fact, demand grew as games were sold off often cheaply from locations and amusement centres to people who wanted games at home. Things really took off in 2004-2005, demand exceeded supply and for a few years it became a sellers market. Prices for used pinball machines actually increased often tripling or more in price. There was a boom in the home market for Pinball machines and Arcade video games that lasted for about 5 years before levelling out. By 2010 demand was largely met with numerous imports of second hand pinball machines from Europe, prices have since fallen back significantly and levelled out.
Over my 3 plus decades in the industry I have seen many changes, ups and downs. I have experienced so much, from providing service through to supplying and operating games on profit share, operating amusement centres, sales and distribution of new and used pinball machines, video games, consulting, 4 years voluntary service as a director on the board of the Industry association and currently manufacturing Playwell classic multigame tables. Today, I am one of only a few remaining people who have continuously been in the Australian industry since the early 1980′s. I feel particularly fortunate being able to continue my role in the amusement machine industry after all these years which I continue to enjoy very much. I still love playing pinball machines and classic video games and I have a private collection that has grown to around 80 games from the early 70′s through to recent years and it’s just as much fun now as it was when I started.
All Pinball & Playwell games