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How popular was the Odyssey brand in North America?


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#1 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:35 AM

Just curious. I am from Brazil, Odyssey2 was pretty popular down there. How about in North America?



#2 4Ks OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:11 PM

The original Odyssey was modestly successful - there wasn't anything else like it at the time. The Odyssey 2, while also mildly successful, had the misfortune of arriving after the Atari 2600 and featuring visibly inferior graphics and sound. Its primary advantage was a lower price point, but Atari soon caught up on that front as well. And it certainly didn't help that its killer app, KC Munchkin, had to be pulled from shelves thanks to a lawsuit from Atari due to it being an obvious ripoff of Pacman. If Magnavox had launched it a year or two earlier, it may have been a hit, but it was outdated the day it premiered and once the Intellivision came along, the O2 got knocked out of the ring completely.

 

I am from Brazil, Odyssey2 was pretty popular down there.

 

 

I've heard it was more of a success in South America, much like the Sega Master System. Was that because of the aforementioned lower price, or were there games released exclusively in SA territories that made it more desirable?



#3 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:39 PM

The original Odyssey was modestly successful - there wasn't anything else like it at the time. The Odyssey 2, while also mildly successful, had the misfortune of arriving after the Atari 2600 and featuring visibly inferior graphics and sound. Its primary advantage was a lower price point, but Atari soon caught up on that front as well. And it certainly didn't help that its killer app, KC Munchkin, had to be pulled from shelves thanks to a lawsuit from Atari due to it being an obvious ripoff of Pacman. If Magnavox had launched it a year or two earlier, it may have been a hit, but it was outdated the day it premiered and once the Intellivision came along, the O2 got knocked out of the ring completely.
 
 
I've heard it was more of a success in South America, much like the Sega Master System. Was that because of the aforementioned lower price, or were there games released exclusively in SA territories that made it more desirable?


O2 launched earlier than Atari in Brazil (by a few months, but anyways). In addition to that they also did a great job marketing the thing, with very aggressive release schedule, ads and all Portuguese titles for the games, some still part of popular culture up to this day, like Come-Come (KC name in Brazil, translate to something like Eat-Eat). In Brazil more people know what Come-come is than Pac-Man.

Brazilian O2 owners also got the Odyssey Aventure magazine for a couple of years, while Atari owners got just an welcome letter. And of course Atari representative in Brazil screwed the whole deal and we got about 30 Atari games total. After that they switched to Activision games and after that to pirated games. O2 owners got twice as many games, with a couple of exclusives not available anywhere else, although I doubt they had any impact.

Anyways, back to my original question, how do you think the O2 ranks compared to other pre-crash systems?


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#4 AtariBrian OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:07 PM

Horrible in my opinion .



#5 4Ks OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:19 PM

O2 launched earlier than Atari in Brazil (by a few months, but anyways). In addition to that they also did a great job marketing the thing, with very aggressive release schedule, ads and all Portuguese titles for the games, some still part of popular culture up to this day, like Come-Come (KC name in Brazil, translate to something like Eat-Eat). In Brazil more people know what Come-come is than Pac-Man.

Brazilian O2 owners also got the Odyssey Aventure magazine for a couple of years, while Atari owners got just an welcome letter. And of course Atari representative in Brazil screwed the whole deal and we got about 30 Atari games total. After that they switched to Activision games and after that to pirated games. O2 owners got twice as many games, with a couple of exclusives not available anywhere else, although I doubt they had any impact.

Anyways, back to my original question, how do you think the O2 ranks compared to other pre-crash systems?


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Interesting. The situation with Atari in Brazil sounds a lot like Nintendo's troubles with the NES in the UK - the marketing was weak and they didn't do much to make it a compelling alternative to home computers like the ZX Spectrum, despite it being clearly more powerful hardware.

 

In terms of how I would rank the pre crash systems: 2600 > Intellivision > Colecovision > Odyssey 2 > 5200 > Arcadia 2001 > Channel F > Astrocade. So the O2 lands on the low end of "worth it" for me; it's a good console and has some great games, but its hardware was too limited to be truly competitive.



#6 masschamber ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:08 PM

Horrible in my opinion .


I would disagree it is relatively easy to find odyssey 2 games and consolez . I've found the system and games in the wild over a dozen times in the 18 years I've perused classic games. It isn't an astrocade or Arcadia 2001 by any stretch of the imagination those I would put in the horrible range

#7 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:41 PM

Very modestly successful. I'd say less than 10% of the share enjoyed by Atari, at least judging from my peer group of kids back in the day. I never saw Odyssey 2 software or hardware outside of a specialty Magnavox store. Nonexistent to most people, I would think -- I only stumbled into owning one out of pure luck as a child. 



#8 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:00 PM

O2 launched earlier than Atari in Brazil (by a few months, but anyways). In addition to that they also did a great job marketing the thing, with very aggressive release schedule, ads and all Portuguese titles for the games, some still part of popular culture up to this day, like Come-Come (KC name in Brazil, translate to something like Eat-Eat). In Brazil more people know what Come-come is than Pac-Man.

Brazilian O2 owners also got the Odyssey Aventure magazine for a couple of years, while Atari owners got just an welcome letter. And of course Atari representative in Brazil screwed the whole deal and we got about 30 Atari games total. After that they switched to Activision games and after that to pirated games. O2 owners got twice as many games, with a couple of exclusives not available anywhere else, although I doubt they had any impact.

Anyways, back to my original question, how do you think the O2 ranks compared to other pre-crash systems?


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Interesting, it sounds like the European situation.

It differs a bit on the delays - the Videopac was made available in 1978, but the Atari 2600 in 1980 (1981 in France).

So even if the 2600 appeared more powerful, it didn't appeared that much more powerful, and the Intellivision was around the corner.

Also, the fact that the Videopac was made in France saved a lot in terms of taxes and shipping, so in the beginning, the Videopac was sold for 2/3 of the price of an Atari 2600 (999Frcs VS 1 499F in 1981 for example).

Philips had a huge distribution network, being able to just ask supermarkets they were in touch with to distribute the Videopac, so it was available everwhere, when Atari was struggling to establish contacts at the beginning.

In addition, the Atari 2600 was low-priority because computers started to take over the market in Europe, so the Atari 2600 was pushed aside to focus on selling the Atari 400 and 800.

While the Atari 8 bits never made a huge dent in the market (I think, 10%) there were still the profitable stuff. Even if ironically, the Videopac line was halted in 1987, but the Atari 2600 kept on selling in Europe up to december 31, 1991, with the last commercial game for the Atari 2600 being an European exclusive game, released in 1992 :)

In the end, tho, the Videpac was abandonned because it didn't hold up it's promises as a computer, the Videopac+ was poorly executed, and Philips, seeing how the Amiga and Atari ST were selling like hot cakes, dropped the console market.


Edited by CatPix, Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:01 PM.


#9 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:29 PM

I think most people who were paying any attention had heard of the O2, at least, but not that many people had it. I do remember that one of my friends did, but he was considered kind of an oddity. But I still went over to his house to play it a couple of times; I was curious. It wasn't like it was embarrassing to have one, just uncommon.

 

I'm trying to think of a modern analog. Maybe something in between the Dreamcast and 3DO. I think the O2 probably sold about as well as the DC relative to its competition at the time (in terms of market share), but it was remembered later more like the 3DO.



#10 VPB--- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:32 AM

I remember why I bought the Videopac (Odyssey 2) and not the Atari 2600.
Videopac had a better image, sharper, more colorful and NO FLICKERING and parasitic lines.
Games were much cheaper. But no license games.
At that time, we did not know, in Belgium, that Odyssey2 existed in the USA.


#11 Place Logo Here OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:13 AM

Basically, it wasn't.

Although I got a lot of use out of it when I was a kid, other kids were always putting it down. And even 9 year old me could see its deficiencies.

The one incident of comeuppance I can recall is when the 2600 Pac Man was released. This one kid who just got it was rubbing it in everyone's faces. Then, when we all gathered to watch the fabled cart in action for the first time, you could feel the excitement draining to the point where I felt kind of embarassed to be there. Anyway, KC Munchkin suddenly got a lot of street cred (even if the street was a cul de sac).

As for public awareness back then, most everybody I knew didn't even know about the O2. But games were readily available at the same places I saw Atari carts: Montgomery Ward, Service Merchandise, KB Toys, Shillito's, Penny's and Swallen's.

F@*$ am I ever old.

Edited by Place Logo Here, Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:14 AM.


#12 pboland OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:53 AM

Basically, it wasn't.

Although I got a lot of use out of it when I was a kid, other kids were always putting it down. And even 9 year old me could see its deficiencies.

The one incident of comeuppance I can recall is when the 2600 Pac Man was released. This one kid who just got it was rubbing it in everyone's faces. Then, when we all gathered to watch the fabled cart in action for the first time, you could feel the excitement draining to the point where I felt kind of embarassed to be there. Anyway, KC Munchkin suddenly got a lot of street cred (even if the street was a cul de sac).

As for public awareness back then, most everybody I knew didn't even know about the O2. But games were readily available at the same places I saw Atari carts: Montgomery Ward, Service Merchandise, KB Toys, Shillito's, Penny's and Swallen's.

F@*$ am I ever old.

 

I couldn't help but notice you listed Swallen's as a store. That puts you in a very specific area of the country. That's one store I miss and yes that is were we got one or two of our O2 games back in the day. Most of them however came from Shillito's (For those that don't know it's basically Macy's) as my dad worked there part time for a second job and got a store discount. 

 

We got the O2 for X-mas 1979. In our neighborhood I knew three households that had Odyssey2 and about two households that had Atari 2600. I didn't know anyone that owned Intellivision (going all the way up to 1984). I only knew one household that got ColecoVision (around 1983). At school more people had Atari (obviously), but it wasn't unheard of to hear of someone with the O2 (but that's basically because we had Shillito's and Swallen's in the area which carried that stuff). Take that for what it's worth. 



#13 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:57 AM

I wouldn't say that it was looked at as having worse graphics than the 2600. The ceiling may have been lower for the O2 in terms of what visuals you could wring out of it, but until Activision formed in 1980 no one really had any reason to think that the 2600 could be a showcase. And the contemporary reporting suggests it was considered to have nicer visuals that didn't flicker, at least for the first couple years. 

 

But yeah, it was a modest success - the third best-selling game console for most of that generation, behind the Intellivision and way behind the 2600. The Colecovision outsold it, sure, but that came out right at the tail end of the Odyssey 2's life on the market anyway (it being wound down in 1982 and ended in 1983, vs Coleco coming up in 1982 and winding down in 1985). It got a fair amount of coverage, and there are certainly plenty of people who look back on it fondly today.



#14 Airshack OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:15 AM

I must have lived in the strangest neighborhood in America, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. We had Odyssey2 users out-numbering Atari people 4-to-1. The number one reason was the O2’s Football and Baseball games, and the affordability of O2 over Atari. O2 was cheaper as were the games. Paperboy’s budgets demanded early fiscal responsibility.
Sports titles usually take a beating in the retro community for some reason. Call it lack of Dragons or Space Ships? Maybe most gaming nerds aren’t athletic so they avoid sports titles? I don’t get it.
Our 1970s introduction to computer gaming was with Mattel Electronics LED handheld games: Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey. Our expectations for graphics can be summed up by saying, “If the graphics on the screen look better than a series of red LED dash symbols on our handhelds, then the graphics are awesome.”
O2 graphics simultaneously met and exceeded our graphics needs. The big US sports titles, Football and Baseball, featured excellent gameplay and looked 100% better than the Atari versions. Again, they were cheaper too.
So for a group of athletic guys snowbound for several months a year, the Odyssey2 was a Godsend. The first kid in our neighborhood to get a video console had an O2 so that probably sold the other three as well — familiarity.
One guy received the Atari with Space Invaders which was cool. He later acquired some Atari sports titles and our enthusiasm for the VCS subsided. Then another guy sold his O2, and purchased an Intellivision, and everyone was jealous. GAME OVER.



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#15 wolfy62 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:56 PM

I must have lived in the strangest neighborhood in America, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. We had Odyssey2 users out-numbering Atari people 4-to-1. The number one reason was the O2’s Football and Baseball games, and the affordability of O2 over Atari. O2 was cheaper as were the games. Paperboy’s budgets demanded early fiscal responsibility.
Sports titles usually take a beating in the retro community for some reason. Call it lack of Dragons or Space Ships? Maybe most gaming nerds aren’t athletic so they avoid sports titles? I don’t get it.
Our 1970s introduction to computer gaming was with Mattel Electronics LED handheld games: Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey. Our expectations for graphics can be summed up by saying, “If the graphics on the screen look better than a series of red LED dash symbols on our handhelds, then the graphics are awesome.”
O2 graphics simultaneously met and exceeded our graphics needs. The big US sports titles, Football and Baseball, featured excellent gameplay and looked 100% better than the Atari versions. Again, they were cheaper too.
So for a group of athletic guys snowbound for several months a year, the Odyssey2 was a Godsend. The first kid in our neighborhood to get a video console had an O2 so that probably sold the other three as well — familiarity.
One guy received the Atari with Space Invaders which was cool. He later acquired some Atari sports titles and our enthusiasm for the VCS subsided. Then another guy sold his O2, and purchased an Intellivision, and everyone was jealous. GAME OVER.



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Man,I couldn't have said all of this any better.  That was my exact life video game story,thanks! ;-)  :thumbsup:

 

except for I grew up in California,but the rest was the same.


Edited by wolfy62, Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:57 PM.


#16 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:53 PM

Of note is this 1978 consumer survey done by Merchandising regarding name recognition for home video games. Odyssey is actually the most recognizable term for video games at the time - over Magnavox, Atari, or Pong.

Attached Files



#17 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:22 PM

I'm sure that's true, but 1978 is very early in the history of video games. I'd say Odyssey is like RC Cola compared to Intellivision's Pepsi and Atari's Coca-Cola.

#18 Airshack OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 18, 2019 5:33 PM

I'm sure that's true, but 1978 is very early in the history of video games. I'd say Odyssey is like RC Cola compared to Intellivision's Pepsi and Atari's Coca-Cola.


Except honestly, Intellivision was the Rum & Coke then because it simply blew away Atari and Odyssey.

Odyssey was the AMC Gremlin.

Atari was the Ford Mustang.

Intellivision was the Corvette.

The Mustang out-sold the others but the Corvette was still way better.



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#19 ubersaurus OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:48 AM

Yes, but 1978 isn't early for the Odyssey brand. Magnavox's original Odyssey and its dedicated Odyssey system line from like 75-77 were all pretty strong sellers for the size of the tv game industry at the time, and even going through materials and newspapers from the early 80s, the Odyssey2 does get mentioned about as much as any other non-Atari competitor. Atari just blew up in 1980 on the strength of Space Invaders and dominated the discourse, but the Odyssey brand was still pretty notable.



#20 ls650 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:26 AM

BITD I knew of the O2 via magazines and newspaper, but I don't recall ever seeing one in the flesh, not even a display unit in the stores.

#21 Airshack OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:10 PM

Yes, but 1978 isn't early for the Odyssey brand. Magnavox's original Odyssey and its dedicated Odyssey system line from like 75-77 were all pretty strong sellers for the size of the tv game industry at the time, and even going through materials and newspapers from the early 80s, the Odyssey2 does get mentioned about as much as any other non-Atari competitor. Atari just blew up in 1980 on the strength of Space Invaders and dominated the discourse, but the Odyssey brand was still pretty notable.


We never knew why it was called Odyssey2. Never knew about the earlier models.


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