Stern Pinball is one of the last companies in the world still making pinball machines, releasing between four and five new models a year, often based on licensed brands like Guns and Roses, The Simpsons, Transformers, Tron, and AC/DC. These licenses aren't merely skins, though. Wired writes that the designers of the machines draw inspiration from the licenses and tailor the designs to the brand.
Some of Stern's newer machines are also adopting elements found in video games, such as allowing players to choose which teams they want to play as, which injects an element of role-playing into the physical experience of pinball. One such example is Stern's Transformer pinball machines, which allow players to choose if they wish to play as the AutoBots or Decepticons. Each mode has different targets, bonuses, and achievements. In the X-Men game, players can unlock story elements by making special shots.
While pinball machines may be seen as a dying art, Stern Pinballi is very much keeping the game alive.