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A good old school shopping question for someone older and wiser than I am

Sears. Tele-games label varients

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#1 Major_Tom_coming_home OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 1, 2015 3:13 PM

I have a question for anyone who can remember buying or shopping for Atari cartridges in the early years:

 

How did you know that games like 'Pong Sports (Sears)' and 'Video Olympics (Atari)' were actually the same game with different titles? Was the assumption that if you bought a Sears Tele-games branded VCS you would only get your games from Sears? Was it even common knowledge that 'Tele-games' and 'Atari' was the same thing, or were they trying to create an illusion that they were different consoles?

 

By the standards of today, just having a separately branded version of your console exclusive to a single retailer would be odd, but releasing games with multiple titles seems like a recipe for huge amounts of confusion, crying kids, and pissed of parents. It seems like the only 'benefit' would be for collectors 35 years later who appreciate the challenge of collecting variants. Thanks!



#2 save2600 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 1, 2015 3:21 PM

Always knew Tele-games was Sears' brand and (honestly) kinda/sorta avoided purchasing them for that reason because I like(d) my stuff to "match". The exclusives were cool though. Used to play Steeplechase at a friends house and I think that particular friend probably made me aware of the differences between the two. Also, got into the 2600 a little late, so wasn't attracted to most of the earlier games anyway. By the time the silver labeled stuff came out, Sears was no longer producing games under the Tele-games label.

Didn't and still do not care for the Sears version of the console either, but feel differently about their Intellivision system. Wouldn't mind adding one of them to the collection someday.

What "confused" me years later, is when I became aware of the Texas based company Telegames, that sold and published other companies games under their own label. Even had a Dina system compatible Colecovision system in the late 80's. Weird stuff right there! :lol:

Just noticed that the site here categorizes the Tele-games carts under Sears. ha

#3 DesertJets OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 1, 2015 3:35 PM

It is kind of easy to forget but Sears was a retail giant in the late 1970s -- remember this was a company that built the world's tallest building and occupied more than half of it with its corporate HQ earlier in that decade. And at the time almost everything in Sears was its own brand. From noted names like Kenmore and Craftsman to stuff I'd rather forget like Toughskins jeans. So between the retail stores and the catalog getting in with Sears was a huge deal for Atari and if that meant being called Tele-Games so be it.

 

But even that changed fairly quickly by about 82/83 the 2600 and Inty were marketed in Sears stores and catalogs under their normal names. This happened all over Sears and (as an aside) probably too slowly which was in part responsible for Sears' decline in the public's eye.



#4 Nutsy Doodleheimer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 1, 2015 7:05 PM

This was a few years before I was born. Anyone remember this commercial?



#5 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 1, 2015 7:31 PM

I never bought games at Sears so the issue never came up. The trouble with Sears is that you had to order the games and then wait for them to arrive (at least where I lived). If I had money for a game I wanted it immediately, so I went to Kmart and got it right away.



#6 JamesL OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 1, 2015 10:08 PM

I was a little kid in 1977 and I remember always knowing that Sears Telegames and Atari were the same. I don't remember how I knew so I assume it was just common knowledge. But even if it were, I can see how the different titles for the same games could have caused confusion.  



#7 fiddlepaddle OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 1, 2015 10:12 PM

I remember Sears had Pong, on demo, and so that's where I went to play (couldn't afford to buy one). I think they did that to sell more TVs.

 

Shortly after that, I went to college and missed about 5 years of retail including the Atari VCS (though I was quite aware of all the coin op games), while I hunkered down and studied, drank cheap beer, ate cheap food, and wore cheap clothes my parents bought me.

 

Once I graduated, Atari was already getting old and I got a lot of it used. Did buy quite a few $10 games from the bargain bins, including at Sears and Penneys, Best Products, Service Merchandise, etc.  Since I got lots of games at the fleamarket, I just got any game I didn't remember that I already had.  I didn't even know what most games were at all until I played them, and even then I think I assumed those Sears games were somehow different and I just hadn't figured out what the differences were yet.



#8 Atari_Warlord OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 8:49 AM

It was common knowledge.  I bought most of the early games from Sears because that was the easiest for me at the time.  After a couple years everyone was selling Atari games.  I remember seeing games at Hardware stores, Jewelry Stores, and the occasional gas station.

 

Atari used to pump out a gazillion catalogs of available and upcoming games, which was probably where we could clearly see it was the same system.  As someone said above, Sears was the big boy on the block for about 100 years.  They used to basically be the Amazon of the offline world.  My great grandparents told me stories of ordering Edison's record player from their catalog and going down to the train station to pick it up when it arrived.



#9 Tinman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 9:08 AM

I was ten years old in 1977 and I knew they were the same.  To the best of my recollection, it was common knowledge.  I can remember going with my parents to Sears and hanging out to play the games at the display unit while my parents did their shopping.  Of course, Sears also sold their Intellivision clone which had an advantage over the original in that the controllers were removable/replaceable.  They used the same plugs as the Atari and I was so disappointed to learn that there was no way to interchange the Intelly controllers with the Atari ones.



#10 save2600 ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 9:11 AM

I never bought games at Sears so the issue never came up. The trouble with Sears is that you had to order the games and then wait for them to arrive (at least where I lived). If I had money for a game I wanted it immediately, so I went to Kmart and got it right away.

 

Hmm... I wonder if the Sears out by you was a smaller, dealer type store then? Because the large Sears stores by us that were connected to malls, had a huge video game section, with plenty of gameson display behind glass cases. 



#11 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 10:42 AM

Maybe a bit related, once I got my VCS and games, after long playing of Phoenix, Enduro, Ms Pac-Man and Super Cobra, I was getting ready to purchase my next game.

I went to the shop, looked around, oh this game looks good, purchased it, went home, it didn't fit. I had purchased Beauty and the Beast for Intellivision.

I didn't know Intellivision was another video game system. I thought it was just the company name for an Atari game. Yes, I got it exchanged.


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#12 save2600 ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 10:54 AM

Try getting that level of customer service today! haha

Kid behind the counter would probably just shrug and say 'sorry dude'. :ponder:

#13 Major_Tom_coming_home OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 1:39 PM

"Target games, tank games, space war games..."

 

I love how back then, companies like Atari or Intellivision would brag about how they had space games, sports games, tank games etc. but wouldn't necessarily mention actual titles. I specifically remember intellivsion doing this in a commercial with 'space games'. It's funny to me how the actual titles being offered wasn't considered important, just the fact that "we have lots of generic space games you can play that may or may not be any good" LOL.

 

This was a few years before I was born. Anyone remember this commercial?



#14 Major_Tom_coming_home OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 1:46 PM

Maybe a bit related, once I got my VCS and games, after long playing of Phoenix, Enduro, Ms Pac-Man and Super Cobra, I was getting ready to purchase my next game.

I went to the shop, looked around, oh this game looks good, purchased it, went home, it didn't fit. I had purchased Beauty and the Beast for Intellivision.

I didn't know Intellivision was another video game system. I thought it was just the company name for an Atari game. Yes, I got it exchanged.

I did the same kind of thing. As a kid I bought a used copy of Zaxxon at a consignment shop that turned out to be Colecovision. They let me swap it for an Atari game but the respective cartridges for Atari and Colecovision were and still are nearly identical. Aside from the label, which didn't always make things very clear if you weren't "in the know".,the only physical difference is the Coleco cartridge connectors are a tiny bit wider - just enough so that you cannot put a Coleco game into an Atari.



#15 Nutsy Doodleheimer OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 1:55 PM

"Target games, tank games, space war games..."
 
I love how back then, companies like Atari or Intellivision would brag about how they had space games, sports games, tank games etc. but wouldn't necessarily mention actual titles. I specifically remember intellivsion doing this in a commercial with 'space games'. It's funny to me how the actual titles being offered wasn't considered important, just the fact that "we have lots of generic space games you can play that may or may not be any good" LOL.

Oh yes! George Plimpton. The Intellivision commercials from 1981-1983 were great! I was too little to see any of them, but I do enjoy these commercialson youtube.



Edited by Retrogamer81081, Tue Jun 2, 2015 1:57 PM.


#16 Major_Tom_coming_home OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 1:57 PM

It is kind of easy to forget but Sears was a retail giant in the late 1970s -- remember this was a company that built the world's tallest building and occupied more than half of it with its corporate HQ earlier in that decade. And at the time almost everything in Sears was its own brand. 

I actually do remember this, at least from the early or mid 1980s. The Sears Catalog was basically the modern equivalent of Amazon.com and they sold everything. Kenmore, Craftsman, Diehard, and other sears brands were very popular, respected, and stood for quality. You could never go wrong buying tools, electronics, housewares, or anything else from Sears. The salespeople knew their shit and provided great service to rightfully earn their commissions. Sadly, that kind of business plan no longer works and the shit show that is K-Mart will eventually destroy all that remains of that once proud and mighty company.  :_(



#17 Nutsy Doodleheimer OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 1:58 PM





#18 Major_Tom_coming_home OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 2:03 PM

Oh yes! George Plimpton. The Intellivision commercials from 1981-1983 were great! I was too little to see any of them, but I do enjoy these commercialson youtube.

 

I can also claim bing too little, and saw them on youtube as well. Plus my dad had made a few modifications to our cable television box and our TV was usually tuned to HBO or Showtime. Ah, the good old days of everybody easily cracking open the cable box and stealing all of the pay channels... :D



#19 Major_Tom_coming_home OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 2:09 PM

This is purely opinion and not everyone would agree, but I think Solaris actually looks better than any of the intellivision space games and the later VCS games like jungle hunt could graphically match the intv. Stella can do amazing things in the hands of a programmer that knows her ways. I mean, Solaris can almost pass for an NES game!!!

 

 




Edited by Major_Tom_coming_home, Tue Jun 2, 2015 2:09 PM.


#20 Major_Tom_coming_home OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 2:16 PM

Behold, Stella in her FULL GLORY

 



#21 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 3:49 PM

Just wondering what the previous post has to do with the topic of this thread?

 

I started with Atari when I was a child. And then learned about (and purchased) the Sears games almost immediately afterward. I got duped into getting dupes of my Atari games. But I quickly caught on. Eventually I wanted all the Sears stuff too. Hoping I might find something different than Atari.

 

My major question was how Sears was allowed to get away with blatantly copying the Atari games..? Nobody bothered to put a stop to it? And that confused the hell out of me.


Edited by Keatah, Tue Jun 2, 2015 3:56 PM.


#22 Jaynz OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 4:15 PM

For my own part, I think my uncle and I got 'duped' ones by Sears and we caught wise. After that, we kinda looked at Sears like it was selling Hong Kong knock-offs of 'real' Atari games, and we stopped picking them up. In reality, though, Sears had a license directly from Atari to rebrand Atari games and sell them at retail.. oddly, for awhile, this really boosted Atari's overall sales (Sears was basically that era's Wal*Mart, only more so), so it worked out well. Eventually when Atari was enough of a 'name', the Sears brand was dropped and replaced.

What was really weird about this was that Atari went along with it even when Sears was selling it's version of Intellivision as a 'super' game system a step above their Atari rebrand... I never understood why Atari put up with that.

#23 fiddlepaddle OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 6:34 PM

I think, in the beginning, Sears was THE reason Atari became successful, as they had landed a large retail outlet, which was very important, and significant for any new product. You could not announce a product and sell it direct to people like you can today with Amazon, ebay, kickstart, etc. Historically, without a national retail distributor, there were simply no sales of consequence.

 

That's why Atari was willing, even eager probably, to have Sears carry their products and sell them.  Even if it was house-branded, they sold a TON more that way.  And also, that was Sears way of creating some exclusivity for those products.  There was no way you could by a Telegames system at JC Penneys. 

 

Sears was one of the greatest consumer retailers, arguably the greatest, of the 20th century, from it's mail-order catalog roots to the ubiquitous mall department stores dominating the category with a solid, quality reputation of supplying just about anything any household might need at a reasonable price.  Competition in the 80's and 90's really picked up and they just weren't able to keep up. 



#24 Miss 2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 8:55 PM

I was late to the game. My parents finally got me a Tele-Games console in 1984, I think. It came with Asteroids (Tele-Games label) anf Pac-Man (Atari label). The price had dropped to a reasonable level, and it also offered a rebate. When I was a kid, the big deal was when the Sears Wish Book came out. Oh, those were grand days! All my Christmas presents would come from that catalog. I would spend hours going through it, especially the very back which showed the video games. They all had little screenshots so you'd know what the games looked like. If they did the same thing in the 1970s, then the screenshots would show that the games were identical to the Atari equivalents. 



#25 Jaynz OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 2, 2015 9:05 PM

I think, in the beginning, Sears was THE reason Atari became successful, as they had landed a large retail outlet, which was very important, and significant for any new product. You could not announce a product and sell it direct to people like you can today with Amazon, ebay, kickstart, etc. Historically, without a national retail distributor, there were simply no sales of consequence.


I think it helped early on, but Atari's first two years were actually a struggle for the 2600. Sears didn't turn fortunes around... a little game called "Space Invaders" did... probably the most important moment for home video gaming of all time - the moment that Space Invaders became the first killer app and turned the 2600 from a glorified and stale pong machine to a VIDEO GAMING CONSOLE ™.




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