The Video Game Crash of 1983 – Part 2
Following part one of our blog to find the truth behind the Video Game Crash of 1983, we uncovered that the whole blame cannot be leveled at Atari and their disastrous E.T game. Although there were massive mistakes of releasing the game for the Christmas market before it had properly been tested, the writing was already on the wall.
Crazy Marketing Decisions
Atari saw there were problems in the arcades and decided to copy some of the games for their 2600 version, and the first game of Pac-Man was a huge deal. Once again, the launch of the highly expected game was rushed! True fans of Pac-Man rubbished the game in one fell swoop.
Incredibly, Atari had pre-forecasted massive sales, and ordered 12 million copies of the game. Marketing used a logic that there had been twelve million consoles sold and every one of the owners would buy Pac-Man. Eventually only seven million games were actually sold, leaving a deficit instead of a profit. Pac-Man was not such a catastrophe as E.T but it did damage Atari’s market reputation considerably. The programmers at Atari were also not happy at the time, they were not allowed to pin their names to game production and therefore would not get acknowledgment from the rest of the industry. Because of this maltreatment, many developers left Atari and went on to form Activision which did the industry no good whatsoever and was a big part of the downfall.
The Restrictions Were Too Lapse
At the time, anybody could make and sell an Atari game, the restrictions were simply not tight enough. And in 1982, when third party game development was open season, smaller manufactures seized the opportunity. There was a glut of Atari 2600 games that suddenly hit the market but were made by almost complete amateurs and the games suffered badly. Nintendo saw this mistake and were far stricter in their controls of third party developers and makers.
There is an Atari Cartridge Graveyard
The rumors of an Atari games landfill are actually true. Apparently somewhere in New Mexico there are millions of copies of E.T buried in the desert. The location is in a place called Alamogordo and was chosen by Atari as it did not allow unauthorized personnel to dig there. It was not just E.T that died in New Mexico, according to sources there is also a plethora of unsold Atari 2600 consoles buried there as well. Presumably all wearing cement boots and never to see the light of the world again.
NES was Designed out of the Ashes
First glance at the Nintendo Entertainment System tells you that it is a serious piece of kit. Nintendo designed it so it would look nothing like a games console. And the company deliberately avoided terms such as video game.
It was fighting hard to disseminate itself from an old failed industry and it succeeded. To this very day, the NES design brings an association between classic gaming and 8-bits. The crash was therefore a combination of crass mistakes and also, in some respects, smugness, with manufacturers believing that their golden industry was impervious to market changes and conditions. Oh, how wrong they were.