Pachinko is an extremely popular game in Japan, but it also has an international fan base. They may have started out as simple arcade game machines, but nowadays, Pachinko is as in-demand as other casino favourites like slots, Blackjack and Roulette.
The game actually has its roots in 18th century France, despite being an Asian pastime. The French played a game called Bagatelle with small balls, which later spread to America during the 1920s. The Americans developed a wide range of ‘marble games’ based on Bagatelle, which eventually became the pinball machines of all. Unlike the pinball machine, however, Pachinko took a different path.
While Bagatelle was being altered in the USA, Japan had adopted Corinthian Bagatelle for itself. The original game had a vertical field on its board that would shoot small balls into circular holes with metal pins protecting them. Some alterations were made, creating a whole new game: Pachinko.
The Japanese developers named their new invention the Corinth Game, and quickly installed it in candy shops throughout the country. The Japanese version of Bagatelle would evolve into the classic game of Pachinko when spring loaded launchers were added to the mix. Classic Bagatelle tables included cue sticks with which to hit the balls, but Pachinko was fully automated and rapidly won children’s hearts because of this. Kids would flock to Japan’s candy shops to try and beat the game and win themselves some free treats.
During the 1930s, Pachinko machines became a popular form of entertainment for those hoping to score a free candy bar. The machines usually offered tickets or coins that could be exchanged for prizes at the shops they were based in. Interestingly, adults soon grew curious about the games too, opening up Pachinko parlours all over the country so that they could play too.
Shortly after this boom in Pachinko’s popularity, WWII devastated Japan and production of the machines stopped for a few years. The parlours closed down too, but by 1947, the game was back in full force. It was also being improved at this time, with developers adding more balls and cash prizes to the mix and removing the ticket and token features.
Pachinko remained popular in Asia until the 1980s, when yet another major development would take place. Solid state pinball machines became the new norm in this decade, and technological improvements were made to the Japanese games as well. New additions included animations, flashing lights, and even digital screens, which made Pachinko machines similar to slots in some ways.
Another huge leap for the game came along with the advent of the internet in the 1990s. Developers quickly added real money online and mobile Pachinko options to the mix, further boosting the title’s reach and introducing it to new countries and players, and today the game is almost as popular as the online slots Australia has on offer to players.
Funky themes and graphics were also added to online games to make them more appealing to a global audience. Today, Pachinko has a massive market value of over $300 billion, generating more gambling revenues than Macau, Singapore and Las Vegas combined!