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A nice rant...one I'd be proud to have written, but I don't agree with the labelling of Atari as a gorilla. It wasn't. They may have had proprietary architecture (their own design) in a tornado market, but how was it open architecture? Where was the value chain?

What you had was a slew of competing technologies in a red hot market. Yes I remember Pong, but clearly Atari's 2600 was the first huge far reaching success in this market. It wasn't long before the me-too's hit the market. Mattel's Intellivision and the Colecovision are the two biggies which come to mind. Intellivision (if I remember correctly) was the first system to expand the playing field and create semi realistic games. For instance on the Atari 2600, a soccer game was played by 3 blocks on each team. Blocks? Well I hesistate to call them humans. Intellivision put numerous stick figures on the screen and had a much more realistic feel for its time.

Intellivision also was on television constantly in my neck of the woods. If you grew up in the Tri-cities area or closeby you must have seen WPIX-NY showcase Intellivision everyday live on TV, with some annoying kid yelling "Pix! Pix!" over and over to trigger the game to execute the fire button. At that point, even as a kid, I knew Atari 2600 was toast. A fun system, but there was already something better.

Atari failed to follow through. The Atari 5200 (which I owned and enjoyed) wasn't much of an improvment over the Intellivision and had a limited number of games. Most of the writing was taking place for the red hot Matel system. Colecovision came aboard next with great sound and graphics, though it too wasn't long lasting.
The Atari 7800 was nothing short of a flop. And by then two things were taking place...

Computers were tornado-ing (and Atari lost there too, to Commodore64, AppleII, and the IBM line). The games on these computers were more creative and interactive than their console counterparts, and the graphics were improving every year. Again Atari's console market was dealt a blow.

And to place the final knife into the dying PRINCE, Nintendo hit the shelves and revitalized the console market with a huge ad campaign that took the world by storm.

Funny how these Console Royalty games continue to produce losers over the long haul. Nintendo's market share has been carved up over the last decade by big players like Sega, Saturn, and Sony. Saturn faded fast, but Sega's Dreamcast is competing. And now the system to beat is the Sony Playstation. Ten years ago when kids referred to playing console games, they said "Let's play Nintendo." Now they say, "Let's play Playstation." There is a new lead Prince (King? I dunno. Don't follow it enough).

Is Sony doomed to be overtaken by the next big thing in the console market? Perhaps. At least Sony is attempting to make their lead system an all encompassing device with computer and net cruising capabilities. And they are licensing out their console design technology to other designers. In short, Sony is not a gorilla, and Atari didn't hold a candle to Sony when it comes to marketing power.

Atari was not a gorilla. You would not have bought Atari as part of a gorilla game strategy.

DP


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