Date: 2nd August, 2021

Legendary pinball designer Steve Ritchie has left Stern Pinball and joined Jersey Jack Pinball.

Steve Ritchie
Steve Ritchie

Steve had his first day at Jersey Jack Pinball today, where he was greeted by JJP founder Jack Guarnieri and the Head of Game Design, Steve’s former fellow designer at Williams and Stern, Pat Lawlor.

Jack, Steve and Pat
Jack, Steve and Pat

Steve began his pinball career at Atari in his native California where he soon moved from a support role into full game design, producing Airborne Avenger and Superman, although by the time Superman went into production Steve had already left to join Williams. Steve has spoken about his frustrations working under the management constraints at Atari. “I was also a lot happier working at Williams, happiness being an important ingredient that enables a designer to create to his/her potential“, he said.

It was at Williams where he achieved his greatest success in terms of units sold, with his initial design, Flash, revitalising the company’s fortunes and selling more than the preceding three titles combined. Further hits came with Firepower, Black Knight, High Speed, F-14 Tomcat, Terminator 2, High Speed 2: The Getaway and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

After Williams downsized and ultimately exited the pinball business, Steve went to work for Stern Pinball – first as a contract designer through his California-based company Steve Ritchie Productions, and then relocating to Illinois to work full time at the Stern Pinball factory.

After being allocated a number of themes which held little interest for him such as Elvis, World Poker Tour and 24, Steve was able to recreate his earlier success with the enduring titles Spider-Man and AC/DC, both of which spawned several remakes and multiple different editions, and, it is understood, continue to be the company’s biggest sellers. These latter two titles were collaborations with Lyman Sheats who crafted the games’ software and rules. Lyman also left Stern Pinball, in his case at the end of last year.

When Jack Guarnieri was setting up Jersey Jack Pinball a little over ten years ago and was in need of a game designer, Jack was in discussion with Steve about him coming to work for the company. They were unable to reach agreement at that time but, although expanding, the pinball world is still relatively small with many of the same people moving from company to company. Steve’s fellow designer at Williams, Pat Lawlor, took a similar path, contract-designing games for Stern Pinball before joining Jersey Jack, while JJP’s lead programmer, Keith Johnson, also moved to Stern before joining Jersey Jack.

Now Steve has moved one street north from Stern Pinball on Lunt Ave. to Jersey Jack Pinball on Greenleaf Ave. in Elk Grove Village.

Steve started work at JJP today, but with a long backlog of Guns N’ Roses orders to fulfil and Pat Lawlor’s Toy Story believed to be next up, it could be up to two years before any Steve Ritchie design hits the production line.

Here’s how Jersey Jack Pinball made the announcement of Steve’s appointment:

CHICAGO, Aug. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Jersey Jack Pinball (JJP) adds legendary pinball designer, Steve Ritchie, to their growing team of talented designers. 

Ritchie’s illustrious career spans 47 years in the gaming industry starting in 1974 with Atari Inc.  Known as the ‘King of Pinball’ and ‘Master of Flow,’ Mr. Ritchie’s best-selling designs are among the most sought after in pinball history, including: Flash, High Speed, Terminator 2, AC/DC, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars.

“Steve is not joining the JJP team because of what he has done, but for what he will do.  We believe his best games are ahead of him,” said Jersey Jack Pinball founder Jack Guarnieri.

Pat Lawlor, Head of Game Design added “I’m thrilled to be able to work with Steve again.  Some of the greatest games in Pinball history happened when the two of us worked together and collaborated on a daily basis.  The innovative, creative environment at JJP will enable Steve to have fun, dream, and build great things.  Our entire team of creators welcomes Mr. Ritchie to JJP!”

“I’m very excited to begin a new gaming adventure at Jersey Jack Pinball!  I have known Jack for more than 30 years and I’m delighted that we will be working together.  It’s going to be awesome!  I’m also looking forward to working with the talented team at JJP, many of whom are already friends and colleagues.  My goal will be to design and build the best games we can possibly create,” Steve Ritchie stated.

Coming off of their smash hit Guns N’ Roses ‘Not In This Lifetime’, Jersey Jack Pinball (JJP) is the industry leader in quality and technical innovation, creating ground-breaking pinball machines for seasoned players, collectors, and newcomers to the game.  Designed and manufactured in the United States, JJP’s state-of-the-art games are conceived on a foundation of pinball’s rich history and engineered with an unflinching eye toward its future.

Easy to play – difficult to master, their award-winning games feature several industry firsts, including the use of LCD screens, RGB LED lighting, Bluetooth and Wi-fi connectivity, interactive camera, rich audio, and innovative industry leading technology.  JJP brings Pinball machines into the 21st century, designed to provide an enhanced player experience, engage hardcore players and draw new players to the game.
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