Date: 1st-3rd March, 2022
Location: ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London, E16 1XL, UK.

After being cancelled in 2021 due to COVID-19, this year’s EAG International Expo was delayed for the same reason, moving from mid-January to the start of March.

Now, with pandemic restrictions in the UK greatly relaxed, we’re back at the ExCel London exhibition centre in London’s Docklands for our familiar look around the UK’s premier coin-op and amusements trade show.

It was a dull and rainy day outside the ExCel London exhibition centre
It was a dull and rainy day outside the ExCel London exhibition centre

We visited the show on the middle of its three days on what was a wet, cold Wednesday in London.

London's Docklands adjacent to the ExCel Exhibition Centre
London’s Docklands adjacent to the ExCel Exhibition Centre

There were several other exhibitions taking place in the ExCel London complex, including a future building show and a ‘white label’ products show. That meant the central aisle, catering outlets and interior walkways were all very busy most of the time.

Inside the ExCel London complex
Inside the ExCel London complex

However, despite the lack of restrictions on attendees and exhibitors and the size of the crowds in the central corridor, there were markedly fewer visitors and vendors than usual at this year’s EAG International Expo show.

Inside the EAG International Expo halls
Inside the EAG International Expo halls

The show also seemed to occupy a smaller space. In 2020 it was held on the north side of the building, taking over halls N1, N2 and N3. This year it was on the south side in halls S4 and S5.

The show was eerily quiet at times
The show was eerily quiet at times

Clearly, a number of regular exhibitors, mostly from overseas, had opted not to attend which was a shame. Nevertheless, plenty were there and here’s a list of those exhibitors who did make it:

7’s AboveLaserforce International
All Things Nice VendingLeisure Electronics
Amusement Industry CatalogueMaggi Electronics
Ask Global/Rimini SystemsMondo Automatico
Astrosystems LtdNayax UK Ltd
BANDAI NAMCO Amusement Europe LimitedNewmans Sales Ltd
Blueprint Operations & GeWeTeNovomatic Gaming UK Ltd
CoinslotNRM Group Ltd
Concept Games LtdNSM Music
Cosmic LeisureOKTO
Crown/Harry Levy & DeithPlaysafe Systems & E-Service
Cummins Allison LtdPMS International Group Plc
ElectrocoinPortman Asset Finance
eLOQRedemption Software Company
ESG GamingReflex Gaming Ltd
Eurotek DesignsRover International
Facto EdizioniSacoa Playcard System
Game Payment TechnologySB Machines
Game Time InternationalSEGA Amusements Int. Ltd
Genesis GamesSemnox Solutions Private Ltd
Gioco NewsSevern Leisure Rides
Heddleworth AmusementsSMOVE
Ideal Software SystemsSound Leisure Ltd
Inspired EntertainmentSports Simulator
Instance AutomaticsSUZOHAPP
Interactive365Tubzbrands
IntergameUDC
Jabro GamesUK Gaming Solutions Ltd
JNC Sales LtdVMA Systems Ltd
JTS Gifts & PrizesWessex Coin
Kalkomat BISWhitehouse Leisure International
Kashing LimitedYGAM
Exhibitors at EAG International Expo 2022
After a cancellation in 2021 and a delay this January, EAG was back
After a cancellation in 2021 and a delay this January, EAG was back

And here’s how their stands were laid-out on the show floor, with the main entrance at the bottom:

The floorplan for the show
The floorplan for the show

The number of visitors did pick up markedly during the day on Wednesday. There was a strike by workers on London’s tube network on the opening and final days of the show which closed the entire network. The disruption carried over to the middle day too. As a result, many visitors who decided to attend on the Wednesday didn’t make it to ExCel London until around lunchtime.

The show halls around midday on Wednesday
The show hall around midday on Wednesday

In previous years there had been a significant presence by several of the major pinball manufacturers. This year only Stern Pinball had any representation. That said, they did put on a good show at the stand of their UK distributor, Electrocoin.

The Electrocoin stand at EAG International Expo 2022
The Electrocoin stand at EAG International Expo 2022

Electrocoin’s head, John Stergides, is a big pinball fan and recently opened the Funland arcade in London which showcases the Premium models of the latest Stern Pinball machines.

Electrocoin's John Stergides
Electrocoin’s John Stergides

However, this is largely an operator-focused show, so alongside Premium model of Rush, Stern also had the Pro model together with The Avengers: Infinity Quest Pro, The Mandalorian Pro and Godzilla Pro.

EAG show guests enjoying the five Stern Pinball machines
EAG show guests enjoying the five Stern Pinball machines

The new President of Stern Pinball, Seth Davis, was there, along with Gary Stern, Doug Skor and Waison Cheng.

Pinball News caught up with Seth, Gary and Doug in their conference suite.

Seth Davis, Gary Stern and Doug Skor with Stern Pinball's current title, Rush
Seth Davis, Gary Stern and Doug Skor with Stern Pinball’s current title, Rush

The Stern Pinball team were heavily promoting their Insider Connected system as well as their latest cornerstone release, Rush.

The five Stern Pinball machines on the Electrocoin stand
The five Stern Pinball machines on the Electrocoin stand

Stern had set up a bespoke leader board on the five machines for registered Insider Connected players visiting EAG International Expo.

The high score table for the machines at EAG Expo International
The high score table for the machines at EAG Expo International

There were separate top-ten high score tables for each title.

The leader board for The Avengers: Infinity Quest
The leader board for The Avengers: Infinity Quest

The Insider Connected lead developer, Waison Cheng, was at the show to ensure the system worked flawlessly and answer any questions about its operation.

Stern Pinball's lead developer on their Insider Connected system, Waison Cheng
Stern Pinball’s lead developer on their Insider Connected system, Waison Cheng

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Stern President, Seth Davis, gave a talk about the benefits of the Insider Connected system, with the emphasis on how the paid subscription Pro version benefits operators.

Seth Davis extols the benefits of Insider Connected
Seth Davis extols the benefits of Insider Connected

Seth said the hosted tournament leader board they were using at the show would soon be rolled out to Pro users allowing operators to set up and run their own high-score tournaments.

Seth talks Insider Connected
Seth talks Insider Connected

Apart from Stern’s presence, there was surprisingly little pinball to be found at the show this year with no other manufacturers exhibiting either physical or digital pinballs.

Usually, we would at least be able to bring you pinball-style capsule, gumball and rubber ball dispensers for kids, but even they were missing along with the companies who manufacture and distribute them.

In fact, the only other pinball was a Big Buck Hunter Pro machine on the Game Payment stand.

Big Buck Hunter Pro
Big Buck Hunter Pro

Supplied by London Pinball, the game was being used to demonstrate how the Game Payment system can be used with a variety of different coin-operated devices, both amusement and gaming.

The Game Payment stand with the Big Buck Hunter Pro
The Game Payment stand with the Big Buck Hunter Pro

Given the problems the amusement sector has faced in the past two years, it wasn’t too surprising there was little in the way of new products on display.

Operators have been reluctant to buy current products with shuttered venues and uncertainty over future restrictions, while supply chain problems, staff shortages and increased transport costs and delays have held back product development and manufacturing.

There were plenty of traditional amusements and prize toys on show
There were plenty of traditional amusements and prize toys on show

We’ve reported before how virtual reality had been the focus of much new product development. There was no space at EAG for some of the larger VR rigs seen at shows such as IAAPA, but set-ups for smaller locations were on display.

A more compact VR environment
A more compact VR environment

There was a central coffee stand which was much easier to access than the crowded outlets in the corridor outside the show hall.

The catering options were rather disappointing this year
The catering options were rather disappointing this year

Sadly though, the show’s bar – which used to be a great hub for catching up with people you might only see once a year – removed all the local London beer taps and now only serves Heineken.

The show is co-organised with the British Amusement Catering Trade Association or BACTA, who had a large section of the show floor for their members to relax and socialise.

The BACTA area in the hall
The BACTA area in the hall

Normally at this point we’d show you a video walkthrough from the show, but with so little new to show you we opted instead to get some hands-on time on the Stern Pinball machines before heading back out into the cold and damp.

We said at the start of this report how cold it was...
We said at the start of this report how cold it was…

It’s good to see EAG International Expo back and the coin-op and amusement trade coming together again after such a challenging time. Stern’s involvement gave many visitors their first opportunity to play some of the company’s recent releases, while their Insider Connected leader board brought some friendly competition to the event.

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