Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Video game crash of 1983 (wikipedia.org)
84 points by amorphous 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments



I was at Atari from 1982 to 1987. During the heart of the crash, I remember attending a meeting with a bunch of 2600 programmers and marketing types, and the new Atari CEO (a guy from the tobacco firm Philip Morris -- I forget his name -- who spent the whole meeting chain smoking).

The meeting was supposed to be a brainstorming session for a 2600 game related to some Warner film that was coming up. It did not go well. The tone in the room from the programmers was that everything on the 2600 had been done, and that the platform had been tapped out. The marketing folks just wanted pixels on the screen and didn't give a damn about the content. I think it might have been the Philip Morris guy's first exposure to the toxicity of Atari marketing and the jadedness of the Atari programmers; his eyes just kept getting bigger and the smoke started coming out of him faster as the meeting wore on.

In the end, I think that a programmer and an artist were sent off with some notes and told to "go think about it some more," and that's the last anyone ever heard of that project. Less than six months later Atari was essentially gone, split into the coin-op group, and Jack Tramiel's Atari Corp (which shipped the Atari ST less than a year later).

Most 2600 games were crap, and consumers knew it and stopped buying terrible games. I don't blame them. Atari made some boneheaded decisions with its new consoles (the non-centering joystick on the 5200 is a classic Atari move). In the spring of 1984 the company was losing several million dollars a day (2M? 3M?) and wasn't a sustainable business, given the market and its burn rate.


> Most 2600 games were crap, and consumers knew it and stopped buying terrible games.

Right. The biggest reasons for the crash were the lack of try-before-you-buy and the lack of good-quality reviews.

(Eh... ever note how "good review" means a review that paints the product in a good light, as opposed to a review which is, itself, high-quality? Ditto "bad review", mutatis mutandis? Maybe this influences why nobody reviews reviews.)

The industry practice of paying for good reviews (either buying them outright or stopping payment of "free" games and such if unfavorable reviews get published) is classic quarterly report thinking: It works in the short term, at least arguably, but it damages the industry overall and sets it up for... another crash.


> Right. The biggest reasons for the crash were the lack of try-before-you-buy and the lack of good-quality reviews.

This wouldn't have mattered if there weren't so many crap games. Nintendo addressed this by strictly limiting the number of releases, as well as having a thorough pre-release review process. Atari couldn't do that, since there was no way to police it, and anyway they wanted to shovel out crap themselves.


> Nintendo addressed this by strictly limiting the number of releases, as well as having a thorough pre-release review process. Atari couldn't do that, since there was no way to police it, and anyway they wanted to shovel out crap themselves.

This is only true of Nintendo outside of Japan, and pretends that both Nintendo and Atari had some aversion to shipping crap games. Atari being able to limit third parties wouldn't have stopped ET, and Nintendo of America still published their own sweet of terrible games.


Since the crash mostly affected the US (see all the Europeans wondering what the crash was), that Nintendo reviewed games only for the US/Europe is appropriate.

Also I'm not sure you read my whole comment -- anyway they wanted to shovel out crap themselves, refers to Atari shipping lots of crap games.

I don't think Nintendo released that many crap games to the US, and they also didn't realease too many, 17 at launch in 1985, 10 in 1986, 9 in 1987, and then fewer per year after that. Atari released 22 games in 1982, in addition to the flood of third party titles that were released that year.


You’ve never watched the Angry Videogame Nerd[0], have you?

[0] https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbQ-gSLYQEc6IWgKJNOMU...


>Since the crash mostly affected the US (see all the Europeans wondering what the crash was), that Nintendo reviewed games only for the US/Europe is appropriate.

So your explanation of how Nintendo fixed this problem was only important in half of their market, and Europe wasn't even facing the problem that they fixed.


Nintendo may have put out crap games, but there were a LOT of crap games that Atari themselves put out that were way worse. We're talking about a company that actually thought making first-party video game version of a Rubik's cube was a good idea.


Games for the Nintendo Gameboy through to the last of DS line were a minefield of shovelware. There were a large number of really great games but they were still a drop in an ocean of crap. The jury is still out on the Switch.


> … and Nintendo of America still published their own sweet of terrible games.

Did you mean to write “suite”? (Or did Nintendo get into the candy business?)


In retrospect, that idea was like introducing taxi medallions to make prices for taxis go up when almost everyone can drive a car: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxicabs_of_New_York_City#1930...

Of course, it only got worse from there in the case of game consoles. The fun thing is that the current debt-based economy encourages this kinds of behavior.


Which also reminds me of the home computers section of the article. The recently launched Intel NUC with discrete GPU, while probably underpowered, is a step in the right direction: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/08/intels-10nm-cannon-l...


> and the new Atari CEO (a guy from the tobacco firm Philip Morris -- I forget his name -- who spent the whole meeting chain smoking).

Is this the guy? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_J._Morgan


Yup. I've called him a "one person smoke-filled room", it was pretty obnoxious, even in the days when companies allowed smoking indoors.


Maybe it was toxic programmers, there is nothing as dangerous as "experienced folks" who say it can't be done and are very pessimistic.


It's worth noting that the '83 game crash was really a United States phenomenon - Europe and Japan's industries got along just fine during that time period.


> Revenues peaked at around $3.2 billion in 1983, then fell to around $100 million by 1985 (a drop of almost 97 percent)

These are mind-boggling numbers I can't imagine happening today in any industry. And this was before pirating. And despite growing up being an absolute fanatic about video games, like everyone else of my friends.


> And this was before pirating.

I'd be careful arguing that this period was pre-piracy, copying floppy disks containing commercial software/games was rampant in this period among many enthusiasts. Software piracy arguably came of age with floppy disks, and there was all sorts of weird and wonderful attempts to combat it.

I still really miss the weird 'papercraft' contraptions that started to appear with many games in the mid to late 80s that had to be used to 'verify' you had a legitimate copy. As a kid I particularly enjoyed the "Grail Diary" that came with your 5 1/4 inch floppies for the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade adventure game, and required the use of red acetate cardboard glasses (also included!) to reveal hidden messages printed on the page.

> http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2013/03/exposing-code-wh...

> https://www.wired.com/2009/07/grail-diary/


Did the crash affect computer gaming, which was on floppies and tapes, or mainly console gaming, which was on cartridge? Because cartridges couldn't be pirated.

(On a skim, the article cites computer gaming as a factor in the crash, stating that computers were booming when consoles were crashing.)


Computer gaming and home computing in general had it's own crash at about the same time


Carts were copyable, it was just a bit harder to do so (and a bit harder to run the resulting binary on the platform without an additional device).


Ooooh wow, this made me remember Rails (Across America?) game with the questions you had to look through the manual about which train it was they showed on screen. If you guessed it wrong a couple times it would lock you out; we lost the manual pretty quickly, so every time we wanted to play we had to try to guess what the trains were.


Ha, I have fond memories of abusing school photocopiers to share these things, which I think is probably why some developers adopted the red acetate trick to obfuscate the answers to the copy protection questions. Color photocopying was obviously very significantly harder to come by back then, a B&W copy wouldn't work with the red lens.

The design of the code wheels for those games that had them was often surprisingly elaborate as well.


Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon did the same thing, except if you didn't correctly identify the ocomotive, it just dropped the game into a limp mode so you could still trial the experience without the manual.

And also it didn't hurt that railway enthusiasts knew two-thirds of the locomotives by heart anyway.


LHX Attack Chopper had a similar thing where you had to look up combat vehicle stats. Fortunately, if you kept restarting you would pretty quickly get something like "How many wheels does X armored car have?", which even a 12-year-old should be able to get in 3 guesses.


This was definitely not before pirating.

Some C64 games came on cassettes and were extremely easy to pirate (compared to cartridges). And even before that, arcade games were "pirated", so instead of a license an operator would buy a clone.

Of course the scale would be different than it was with the Internet around.


No kidding. I was working on a game for the Atari 800 in 1980 and got a floppy disk with a bunch of pirated games from a friend of mine that included a copy of my incomplete game! To this day I have no idea how that happened.


the video game crash was mostly north america/usa though, wasn't it? from what i've heard europe wasn't as affected by atari's woes and kept chugging along with home computers over consoles.


True, I meant large-scale pirating, torrenting etc.


Wikipedia says the ISEPIC cartridge was released June '85, so I could see that actually happening. There were very few games I ever saw that didn't have the ISEPIC fastloader. My favorite memory of that time was when I tried to duplicate my ISEPIC'd Beach Head II disk and saw the copy protection scroller instead of the game. Good times!


There were absolutely pirates around at this point. Complete with groups (MPG, Apple Bandits, etc.), warez sites (The Safehouse, The Curse, etc.) and whole distribution networks.

Admitted it was more computer centered, but pirates still are.

There were even distribution networks for pirated movies via VHS. I remember E.T. being passed around LONG before it was released on tape.


From what I understand, a big proponent in the revival (which was centered around the birth of the NES) was that Game Consoles were marketed more as toys than computers, right?

So instead of finding the NES next to your other PCs at the time, it was near the toy aisle?

I don't have a specific source for this, besides some memory of podcasts and articles touching on the topic throughout the years.

Anyone who maybe was able to witness the revival able to comment with their anecdotes?


That was a large part of it.

Nintendo also didn't try to oversell the systems capabilities or the games, which was a big problem with the marketing materials for older games and game systems.

They also limited 3rd party companies ability to make games for the system (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIC_(Nintendo)#10NES) to ensure a certain degree of quality. That's also the origin of the gold Nintendo Seal.

The NES also had Super Mario Bros as a launch title in the US and that game holds up incredibly well to this day. It was truly a big leap in video game design, especially considering games like Ms Pacman and Donkey Kong Jr. were winning Best Game awards in magazines the year before the NES launched.

Lastly, the Light Gun and Duck Hunt were also big system sellers. As far as I know, no other console had an experience like that and much like the Wii and the DS, gimmicks like that are very popular among people who don't play a lot of traditional video games.

You should also consider the velocity that Nintendo launched into the console industry with. A year after the NES came out, The Legend of Zelda came out which was another giant leap in game design and the first home console game to allow you to save your progress. Two years after that Super Mario Bros. 3 came out which was an absolutely massive leap over the first Super Mario Bros. A year after that they launch the GameBoy and suddenly you can play Super Mario Land on the go.

Nintendo was responsible for a lot of innovation in a very short amount of time.


What's wild is the fact that Nintendo has consistently innovated in unexpected ways pretty much the entire time they've been around. Whether it's control schemes, new takes on mobile gaming, their camera controls for 3D gaming in a world that hadn't really seen genuine 3D games before, etc.

They're constantly bringing new stuff to the table, so even though each iteration of Mario might not be that far off from the previous one design-wise, you're approaching it in a completely fresh way.


Yeah they are definitely my favorite video game company for that reason.

I find it amusing that their long and innovative history also includes things like selling instant rice, their own "love hotels" for people to use with prostitutes, and a taxi company in the time after their playing card business declined but before their video game business took off.

"Nintendo" could mean something very different today had certain parts of their business performed differently.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo#History


>was that Game Consoles were marketed more as toys than computers, right?

Well, even if one wanted to, a marketing exec really couldn't advertise Nintendo NES as a "general computer" since it had no keyboard nor ability to connect a disk drive and printer. The "toy" aspect was an intrinsic property of NES (the "E" in Nintendo _E_ntertainment System) rather than a marketing angle. Therefore, its focus on gaming dictated the type of commercials you could run to advertise it.[1]

From what I remember, the Nintendo NES was the first console where the quality of the games closely matched the real arcade versions.[2] Donkey Kong was a prime example. The NES version looked, sounded, and played like the real thing. (This wasn't true arcade games licensed & ported to Commodore 64, Intellivision, Atari, etc.)

The combination of low price point with higher quality games I think were the key factors for its success.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDFvkWY6tJU

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=donkey+kong+arcade+original&...


Well, even if one wanted to, a marketing exec really couldn't advertise Nintendo NES as a "general computer" since it had no keyboard nor ability to connect a disk drive and printer.

This was a conscience choice by Nintendo of America though. The Japanese counterpart of the NES has the hardware and software capabilities of a computer, like a disk and cassette recorder, BASIC, and a keyboard. These were never released in the US.


They made it as far as prototyping those devices, before the NES was released. http://nintendo.wikia.com/wiki/Nintendo_AVS


The Nintendo Famicom is an abbreviation of Family Computer. You could get a keyboard and BASIC as an accessory.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_BASIC


I remember this well. I was a teen game developer then, writing and selling games for the Vic-20 and the C-64. It seems now, looking back, it was the classic cycle of technology advancing faster than people expected. We had fairly popular coin-op arcades filled with teens spending quarters in 1980, and then within two years very low cost home computers like the Vic-20 had pixel perfect versions of a few of the same games. The Atari console and similar had "remakes" of the popular arcade coin-ops, and were only beginning to develop franchises of their own. Then the ColecoVision comes out in '82 with pixel perfect versions of every single Namco and Nintendo arcade coin-op, plus expansion hardware gave it first Atari computer compatibility, and then it's own computer branded the Atom. These developments basically caused all the arcades to close, between their reputations as "seedy" places for teens and the sudden flood of previously coin-op titles being easy to play at home, they lost their audience.

There was a lot of entrepreneurial game development in this period, and a lot of really bad games. The market was saturated, the quality was not nearly as high as during the coin-op prime, not enough revenues were being recovered by the major players, and the market collapsed soon after '83. The market seemed to move past games. Computers like the Mac were released.

Only one company seemed to be quietly persevering with a steady stream of quality titles: Nintendo.


I've read that Nintendo basically had to make guarantees to big retailers like Sears that they would buy back any un-sold stock. That kind of risk taking coupled with the reasonable assumption (particularly in hindsight) that video games weren't just a fad along with the quality of games like Super Mario Bros. was the recipe for the NES re-starting the industry.


> So instead of finding the NES next to your other PCs at the time, it was near the toy aisle?

> Anyone who maybe was able to witness the revival able to comment with their anecdotes?

That is NOT my recollection. I bought my Atari games from the same isle I bought my NES games from at Toys R Us (obviously in different years).

I think there is truth that game console marketing shifted into its own more toy like thing, distinct from computers, but I think that shift was already underway by the heyday of the 2600. I remember an entire display of just video games (2600, ColecoVision, and others), which was separate from other software, computers, and the consoles.

With the Toys R Us closure, I wrote an article about my memories of Toys R Us and The Great Video Game crash (and recovery) that tries to fill in for people what living through the crash actually felt like.

https://playcontrol.net/ewing/jibberjabber/memories-of-the-g...


All 8-bit micros were in the toy section as I recall, Commodore, Sinclair and the like, in the UK at least


I remember at my local K-Mart the commodore products were under the glass display cases with electronics like calculators. Then they'd have a couple of spinning wire racks for the discount ($9.99 and $19.99) shareware and games. Expensive stuff (from EA or Eypx) was under the glass and you had to find an employee willing to let a kid actually touch the box...


NES and the subsequent revival of the console was on account Nintendo being bold enough to invest when the conventional wisdom was that video games were a fad whose time had passed--that combined with a leap in AV quality over the Atari 2600 (the last mainstream console). 70s/80s culture seemed to churn every few years, it was riddled with fads, so the feeling was grounded in reality.

Outside of the console market, between the 2600 and the NES, there was growth in gaming on personal computers, but it was driven by floppy pirating. I'm not sure there was a lot of profit there.


Nintendo weren't particularly bold, they knew the conventional wisdom was wrong. Soon after the crash, Nintendo arcade machines called Vs. Machines appeared; these were basically Famicoms in arcade cabinets playing special versions of Famicom games (including Super Mario Bros.). This was Nintendo's stealth market research program; they used the revenue from these to gauge American interest in games, and found that Americans were still interested in games, they just weren't interested in crap.


So instead of finding the NES next to your other PCs at the time, it was near the toy aisle?

Yes, but chances were good that you were shopping for a computer in a small department store anyway, so it was all a short walk to the bedding and appliances sections. I don't know that they were marketed as toys so much as their primary market was kids.

Toys-R-Us had a pretty good selection of gaming consoles, plus the C64 and C128. No Amiga though. The boxes would show Dad fiddling with a mortgage calculator, then another picture of the family watching as the kids played a game.


The branding and packaging of the NES was actually intended to make it resemble a sophisticated piece of home audio/video equipment to avoid the "toy" label. It was called the Nintendo Entertainment System (80s "high tech" words), was done up in gray and black with red accents (as opposed to the Famicom's red and beige), and had a "front loader" cartridge slot akin to a VCR (which actually made the console-cartridge connection flakier and was the real reason we ritualistically blew on our cartridges).


>From what I understand, a big proponent in the revival (which was centered around the birth of the NES) was that Game Consoles were marketed more as toys than computers, right?

Yes... that's why the NES originally came with a toy robot and was sold as an "entertainment system" rather than a "video game console."


More than "saturation", my key takeaway is the crash was triggered by "quality". With the apocryphal example of E.T. being such a travesty to the art of video game creation that unsold copies would wind up in a landfill in New Mexico. And Atari posting a half a billion dollar loss for the quarter.

It also helps to explain the rise of Nintendo. Just few years post-crash you are starting to see SMB2, Zelda, Metroid. With the sheer joy Miyamoto-san had in the creation process, evident in the final result. By the end of the decade a Nintendo device could be found in virtually every US household. And even Tetris for the GameBoy enjoyed a certain veneer of polish and infinite playability that lasts to the present moment.


> E.T. being such a travesty to the art of video game creation

People love to bash E.T., but it was a good game for its time, just hard to grasp without the included manual.


Also, though copies of E.T. ended up in a New Mexico landfill, they did so alongside many other Atari games as Atari was just emptying warehouses.


More than "saturation", my key takeaway is the crash was triggered by "quality".

And this is precisely why Nintendo limited the third party titles (via lockout hardware) released on their systems. It didn't stop some developers[0] from figuring out how to defeat it though.

0 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tengen_(company)#History


As a 13-year-old at the time, it was depressing. The consoles and console games of the late 70s/early 80s seemed to have plateaued, and the PC-like systems that were heralded as replacements were expensive and didn't really have many good games.

At home, I had a Colecovision console whose most impressive game was a 3D platformer, Zaxxon. The rest of the Colecovision catalogue was lame. I also had a Vic 20 which didn't have any real games of note (although it was interesting if somewhat frustrating to type in some BASIC games from magazines).

I had access to Apple II+ and IIe machines at school and a neighbor had an Atari 800. Choplifter was probably the most impressive thing on either one. I remember a lot of people being really disappointed by the Atari 800 as it was made by a gaming company yet didn't have anything that was really that fun.

(This was, incidentally, the same time that text adventures were getting a shot in the arm with Zork and the follow-up games, but that was different than the action games teens like me craved)

At that point I kind of dropped away from gaming and got into music in a big way. The NES didn't gain traction until I was in college in the late 80s, and by that point I was more interested in some of the arcade games that were popping up in the basement of the student union.


Castle Wolfenstein, Lode Runner, Karateka, Ultima, Wizardry...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Apple_II_games

I don't ever remeber being bored for want of games. My house is where the neighborhood kids went to play video games.

And what I remember about my Atari 800 is that it got so much play we were comstantly having to repair or replace the terrible joysticks because the bubble switches on the circuitboard would wear out too easily.


> a 3D platformer, Zaxxon

Zaxxon is better described as a scrolling shooter.


If anyone is interested in learning more about this topic, I highly recommend reading The Ultimate History of Video Games . [1]

I picked it up on a whim at a thrift store and found it to be very informative and engaging. You'll also see some familiar names in there as it spends a lot of time talking about Atari.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-History-Video-Games-Pokemon-...


I also enjoyed High Score!: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games [1]. The photos bring back a lot of memories

[1] https://www.amazon.com/High-Score-Illustrated-History-Electr...


I wrote a short note to Steven Kent a few years ago saying I enjoyed reading his book. He was kind enough to write back and thank me for reading. The earlier editions had a different name: The First Quarter: A 25-year History of Video Games. [1]

He noted in his letter that he wouldn't have chosen such an "arrogant" title for his book as "The Ultimate History", and the decision was the publisher's. Seemed like a thoughtful and humble person.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/First-Quarter-25-year-History-Video/d...


I always wonder if this "hype->saturation->blow up->recovery and ultimately more stable and serious growth" cycle applies to other industries as well - arguably that's a bit of what happened during the dot-com boom to internet-based businesses, so it doesn't seem totally insane.

On the other hand, there have obviously been plenty of "hype->saturation->blow up->die forever" cycles as well, so maybe it's not a great thing to bet on.

Basically, now I'm wondering which of the two patterns things like cryptocurrencies fall into (I'd also mention real estate, but it seems like it's clear which one it's falling into).

Interesting to note that it seems like most of the actual companies involved in the "blow up" phase don't become part of the "stable and serious growth" phase, so maybe that doesn't bode well for the existing coins.

Side note: This article finally illuminated the origin of the name "Famicom" to me, and I can't believe it took me so long to realize the origin of that name.


The key difference between die forever and recovery (which sometimes comes with another hype cycle) is the underlying utility/value of the thing. Real estate in places people actually want to live will "always" recover, because there's underlying value in somewhere to live (but people may not always want to live in the same places). Video games came back because decent games are fun. 3D movies seem to come back for another round of hype cycle every so often, but they don't seem to offer enough real value to offset the cost of producing them or viewing them, so we're kind of in the stable and stagnant phase. Crystal Pepsi and other clear colas obviously have no redeeming value, so it's probably not coming back again.

A lot of the companies in video games around the time of the blow up are gone now, but some of them survived -- Nintendo was early and is still around, Sega survived until much after the crash. The crash wasn't good for Atari, but it sort of survived into the 90s, and it had a lot of corporate shenanigans too. It doesn't seem that unusual that so many companies in a field aren't around 30 years later.

Re: cryptocurrencies, who knows, but the real question is if they're really useful compared to traditional banking, for enough people for it to offset the tremendous escalating costs of running the network.


> A lot of the companies in video games around the time of the blow up are gone now, but some of them survived -- Nintendo was early and is still around, Sega survived until much after the crash.

Wait, but the Famicom wasn't even released until 1983 (the year of the crash), and the Genesis wasn't released until '88, so it seems like those companies really rose from the ashes of the crash - even though Nintendo had been dabbling in video games since the 70s, the Famicom was their first attempt to really hit the US market it seems.

> Re: cryptocurrencies, who knows, but the real question is if they're really useful compared to traditional banking, for enough people for it to offset the tremendous escalating costs of running the network.

Don't mistake this by any means as me being a fanatic, because by no means am I anything less than incredibly skeptical of cryptocurrencies: I question whether it's just because nothing has really managed to prove that fruitful yet in comparison to the overwhelming use of them now as speculative investments.

For example, we had to send a payment to someone who lives in a commonwealth country - what a pain in the ass that was. For the first time I actually saw a use for bitcoin, but the volatility and my general desire not to run afoul of any weird money laundering laws got the better of me.


Most of the other companies dabbling in video games in the 70s and early 80s simply slowed dabbling. Ex Mattel didn't release any follow on consoles of note past the Itellivision, Coleco went on to focus more on Cabbage Patch Kids and a failing home computer after the Coleco Vision. But who didn't have a failing home computer back then?

Nintendo and Sega continued to focus on them, during the downturn. Not a lot of people were really doing video games only then, Atari was a division of Warner Entertainment by the end of the 70s.

Re crypto, international transfer does seem like an area that's poorly served and expensive with traditional banking, and family remittances is a huge submarket there, but it's only rarely mentioned in articles about bitcoin. I think the trick is there needs to be enough market activity to make bitcoins available for purchase in the sending country and sellable in the receiving country. But there's some competition here from PayPal and others.


>the Genesis wasn't released until '88,

Sega released the SG-1000 on literally the same day as the Famicom's launch. In 1985 they introduced the Sega Master System, an upgraded SG-1000.


Oops! You are correct, though it looks like the SG-1000 was never released outside of JP. Still, not pre-crash.


> Crystal Pepsi and other clear colas obviously have no redeeming value

I'm one of the mutants that actually likes Chrystal Pepsi. :-\


You're probably in this group: https://arstechnica.com/science/2015/12/certain-customers-sp...

Sorry (and welcome)


Interesting read.

I wish they had a list of products, though. I wonder if there are any other failed products I've loved, or if liking Crystal Pepsi is kind of a one-off.


The U.S. game industry lobbied in Washington, D.C. for a smaller $1 coin, closer to the size of a quarter, arguing that inflation (which had reduced the quarter's spending power by a third in the early 1980s) was making it difficult to prosper.[17] During the 1970s, the dollar coin in use was the Eisenhower dollar, a large coin impractical for vending machines. The Susan B. Anthony dollar was introduced in 1979, and its size fit the video game manufacturers' demands, but it was a failure with the general public.

I found no evidence that the video game industry specifically lobbied for the diameter of the Anthony dollar. Is there any?


It's likely that they picked a size that fit within the entire vending space-- not arcades specifically.

The mechanisms on old games-- like other vending machines-- could be configured with gates to accept different size coins, but they probably topped out at a maximum size smaller than the Eisenhower. So a machine with a big enough opening to take, say, a UK 10p would be able to accept a SBA if you snapped the right gate over it.


The Pacman port was very good considering the limitation of the console but is an obvious disappointment for the consumer.

I rhetorically wondered what lesson we as engineers could learn from this...


No, it should have been better. The Atari 2600 Ms. Pac-Man port was what Pac-Man should have been.


It was decent, given the ROM size limitation and development crunch that Tod Frye was placed under.


I wonder if someone can help me identify a game I recall from my youth. I recall it being a computer game, and you started off in a jail cell. You could move around, there was a bed, and a window - I think you could jump.

I was young enough that I couldn't figure out how to even escape the cell, if that was even the intent of the game. I played it in Russia, sometime in the 80s or maybe even early 90s,

The only other thing I remember is that the computer also had Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion on it.


I don't have a guess for you, but there's a subreddit called r/TipOfMyJoystick that might be able to help you figure this out if you're curious enough.


You were jailed as a spy and you can escape it via exit behind the wine barrel in the basement?


Little Big Adventure 2(?) started in a jail cell, but that's mid 90's I think.


Escape from Rungistan? On the Apple II.


Hm, I don't think so - and I think this might have been a DOS game. That's an excellent candidate, though!


Maybe La Fuga / The Fugitive[1] or Eden Blues[2]. That's all I remember though.

[1]: http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/fugitive

[2]: https://www.retrogamer.net/retro_games80/eden-blues/


Holy shit, I think it's Eden Blues! Thank you!


Recommended relevant YouTube video (7 minutes):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikIeaCE3Ljc


Atari could have been Nintendo. But, they were so determined to pry-bar out a few extra millions for a few years that they missed out on making billions for decades.


I remember Kaybee blowing out Intellivision games for next to nothing when the bottom fell out. We filled up our cabinet quick.

But it was prophetic, because it was the Commodore 64 I moved to next, and I hardly touched the Inty after that.


My parents got me a used C64 with almost literally everything (monitor, printer, light pen, speech synth, fast load, disk drive, tape drive) and close to 100 games and apps for my 8th birthday in 1983. Knowing what they made and how much that probably cost, it was a huuuuggee investment for them. That one thing, more than anything else, impacted my life. I started programming basic, learned word processing (hello GeoWrite), got online with QuantumLink, created a fake newspaper for my house, and got my first taste of the potential for gaming beyond consoles. There's just no way consoles could compete with that.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: