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Commercially successful Jaguar

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Yeah these are terrible corporate strategies. And they are especially dissapointing since your from the bloody future! The lynx was more successful than the jaguar. So dropping it was a hhorriblemove. Not to mention Ataris lynx was revolutionary at the time and there is very little reason it shouldn't have done well. Also the controller keypad should not be dismissed as "stupid buttons". They had overlays for each game and it really served to enhance the gameplay.

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Yeah these are terrible corporate strategies. And they are especially dissapointing since your from the bloody future! The lynx was more successful than the jaguar. So dropping it was a hhorriblemove. Not to mention Ataris lynx was revolutionary at the time and there is very little reason it shouldn't have done well. Also the controller keypad should not be dismissed as "stupid buttons". They had overlays for each game and it really served to enhance the gameplay.

 

The Lynx sacrificed portability and battery life in favor of amazing technical prowess, the complete opposite strategy of the Game Boy. The Game Boy's higher profile and deeper library pretty much sealed the deal in its favor (and of course, although the Game Gear was more successful than the Lynx, it too suffered from similar problems, particularly in terms of general portability and battery life).

 

What might have allowed the Lynx to live on was instead of going to the Lynx II that we got, which saw only minor relative tweaks to the hardware, Atari instead tried for a smaller unit that prioritized battery life. Atari would have literally had until 2001 with the release of the Game Boy Advance (which, even in a larger size, would have served as an ideal model for a true Lynx II) to ride on the coat-tails of their pure technological advantage. It's kind of crazy to think that the Lynx was the best handheld gaming device from a pure power standpoint from roughly 1989 to 2001. Instead, it died along with Atari itself years earlier than it otherwise might have had another company been in charge. Of course, even Sega never changed the form factor of the Game Gear, so maybe the technology simply wasn't there until roughly 2001 to even pull something like that off. Who knows?

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Sorry Bill, i cannot agree here.

Assuming Atari produced say a Lynx Micro, instead of the Lynx Mk II.Something truely portable and with much improved battery life, your still facing the same crippling factor facing the Lynx from day 1.
Software support-or rather lack of.
Nintendo had the lions share for the GB, Sega managed to get great support from likes of Core Design, Virgin, Domark,Probe, Midway etc
And Atari simply had to make do with limited support as/where they could find it.
As Gremlin Graphics Ian Stewart told me, Switchblade 2 (a high scoring Lynx game at review in the UK) sold so poorly, it killed any future Lynx development plans.
So for the Lynx to even compete with what the GameGear had, who was going to convert the likes of:
MK 1-3, Fifa, F1, Jungle Strike, Prince Of Persia etc?.
Telegames? Tiertex?
People can claim Tiertex were going to convert X,Y and Z to the Lynx as was, but fact they never appeared speaks volumes.
Maybe if we had seen Cabal, Rolling Thunder, AVP etc..........

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I'd assume Atari only had so much control over the direction of the Lynx anyway, as it was Epyx's hardware. Easy enough to repackage that as the Lynx II, much more difficult (and costly) to design a successor from scratch.

 

I'd highly doubt that would've been possible given Atari's failing financial health. Just another interesting "what if."

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Sorry Bill, i cannot agree here.

Assuming Atari produced say a Lynx Micro, instead of the Lynx Mk II.Something truely portable and with much improved battery life, your still facing the same crippling factor facing the Lynx from day 1.
Software support-or rather lack of.
Nintendo had the lions share for the GB, Sega managed to get great support from likes of Core Design, Virgin, Domark,Probe, Midway etc
And Atari simply had to make do with limited support as/where they could find it.

 

I agree with you. Obviously software support was a key issue and we all know that Nintendo locking down Tetris was the killer app of all killer apps.

 

The Game Gear still sold less than 1/10th of what the Game Boy and Game Boy Color did despite having a more compelling and diverse game lineup than the Lynx (and I don't recall seeing good sales numbers for the Lynx, but I bet it ended with a massive divide between it and the Game Gear, although, in the Game Gear's favor, it did last about six years longer on the market). The Game Gear would have likely benefited from the same revamp that I suggested for the Lynx. It still wouldn't have made a difference since the Game Boy series established its dominance so quickly, but it might have extended the viable lifespan a bit longer.

 

I've stated before that knowing what we know about the Jaguar in retrospect, it would have made far more sense for Atari to double-down on and rally around the Lynx's technology rather than try with a next gen console. At the very least, Atari's more modest financial resources could have supported quality portable games versus quality console games. The R&D for the Jaguar could have been instead targeted to a highly refined, more portable Lynx 2. Still, we can play "what if?" all day with this stuff. It doesn't change what actually happened.

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So the Jag was a Flare product, and the Lynx was an Epyx product.

Atari hadn't really designed any console since the 5200 as the 7800 was a GCC product ..... so we have a company whose only hardware development past the 8 bits was the Atari ST (I am not sure the case restyle of the XE line counts) .... great computer but a console was not.

 

Just saying, but reality is that past the VCS2600 Atari did very little in the console world wrt internal development. The Atari 5200 sold 1M units, and being a repackaged 8bit [bar the different memory map] it is outstanding if you ask me but the Coleco was a nicer competitor at a cheaper price with compelling games for the time which outsold the 5200 2:1.

 

So pretty much after the 5200 Atari bought/commissioned/outsourced their console business ..... maybe there's a lesson there.

Granted the 7800 should have been released when it was ready (risky or not) and not 2Y later when 16bits were already around (the 7800 was released 1Y after the Atari ST), not that the 7800 should have been a 16bits, just that the contrast was too stark imho ... it was obvious that with the 7800 you were playing "old stuff".

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There's no doubting things could of been different with various Atari hardware, in various regions, throughout history...

 

If only:

 

The A8 hardware and software had been cheaper at the start here in the UK.

 

The STE had arrived sooner and offered more....

 

The Falcon had been handled differently and hardware changes made...

 

Etc etc.

 

The simple fact is, Atari had it's chance with all of these and the 7800, the Lynx, let alone the Jaguar, it rolled the dice/played the hand it/reaped what it sowed...pick a cliche.

 

There's no escaping the fact the likes of Sega/Nintendo did far more, with weaker hardware, yet far better software support.

 

Getting more units (Jaguar) into the UK..meaningless.

 

Panther being launched, buying Atari time to finish R+D on Jaguar-Simply wasn't an option, feasable or would of made a lick of difference and various industry sources will tell you that, off the record.

 

Publishers simply lacked faith in Atari..period.

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and I don't recall seeing good sales numbers for the Lynx,

According to:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_game_consoles#Handheld_game_consoles

 

 

Million-selling handheld game consoles

Platform Firm Released Units sold

Nintendo DS Nintendo 2004 154.01 million

Game Boy/Game Boy Color Nintendo 1989/1998 118.69 million

PlayStation Portable Sony 2004 82 million

Game Boy Advance Nintendo 2001 81.51 million

Nintendo 3DS Nintendo 2011 57.94 million

Sega Game Gear Sega 1990 10.62 million

PlayStation Vita Sony 2011 >4 million

WonderSwan Bandai 1999 3.2–3.5 million

N-Gage Nokia 2003 3 million

Atari Lynx Atari 1989 >1 million

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Darryl Still (Atari UK Marketing Manager at the time) was asked re:Lynx Sales figures:

 

Q. Do you happen to know what the total sales figures for the Lynx were? There seems to be no other figures quoted other than articles that report Atari selling their one millionth Lynx.

 

I probably knew at the time, but cannot put a figure on it now. Less than it should have been, that’s for sure. Definitely more than that the worldwide build was 7 digits and they'd have all been sold into retail.

 

http://www.retrovideogamer.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=5210

 

Sadly we then see a figure 'suggested' to him, which he went along with.

 

I'd love to see some actual figures (region specific to boot) from with Atari itself, not hinted at/suggested figures.

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My take is that the Lynx sold worse than the N-Gage .... which was a crappy way to play games (although to be fair they nailed it in thinking that the new platform for gaming would be mobile/phone based)

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My take is that the Lynx sold worse than the N-Gage .... which was a crappy way to play games (although to be fair they nailed it in thinking that the new platform for gaming would be mobile/phone based)

 

While what you say is factually true, the companies and markets at the respective times those systems were active is really more of an apples and oranges comparison. That would be kind of like saying that the NES sold poorly because it only sold a little more than half of what the PS1 did. Obviously in that case the market for games and the potential audience grew dramatically. Nevertheless, it does illustrate that the Lynx was among the least popular of the mainstream handhelds, which is kind of sad considering the wonderful technology behind it.

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According to:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_game_consoles#Handheld_game_consoles

 

 

Million-selling handheld game consoles

Platform Firm Released Units sold

Nintendo DS Nintendo 2004 154.01 million

Game Boy/Game Boy Color Nintendo 1989/1998 118.69 million

PlayStation Portable Sony 2004 82 million

Game Boy Advance Nintendo 2001 81.51 million

Nintendo 3DS Nintendo 2011 57.94 million

Sega Game Gear Sega 1990 10.62 million

PlayStation Vita Sony 2011 >4 million

WonderSwan Bandai 1999 3.2–3.5 million

N-Gage Nokia 2003 3 million

Atari Lynx Atari 1989 >1 million

 

Well, those figures are absurd -- but Wikipedia is about the least reliable source of statistic on the internet, so not shocking. I know there is no way the N-Gage sold 3 million units -- and am very confident that the overall Lynx unit production was around 2 million at the low end of estimates.

 

Considering that the Wikipedia entry for Atari Lynx totally contradicts that figure.... And states that overall production was around 3 million (under the History section) = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Lynx

 

It just proves how pathetic Wikipedia is as reliable source of information.

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Well, those figures are absurd -- but Wikipedia is about the least reliable source of statistic on the internet, so not shocking. I know there is no way the N-Gage sold 3 million units -- and am very confident that the overall Lynx unit production was around 2 million at the low end of estimates.

 

Considering that the Wikipedia entry for Atari Lynx totally contradicts that figure.... And states that overall production was around 3 million (under the History section) = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Lynx

 

It just proves how pathetic Wikipedia is as reliable source of information.

OK, maybe the Lynx sold as well as the N-Gage which is NOT fondly remembered as a resounding success.

Even at 3M units the Lynx did not do well, but if that number is anywhere close to reality it did outsell the Jag 10+:1 .... there's that.

 

I don't want to badmouth the Lynx at all, it entered the conversation as yet another console Atari did not exactly designed/developed internally and ended up doing poorly against the competition of its time.

I am not sure if this is proof that maybe you should develop your own HW technology if you are in the business of selling HW .... but it does point in that general direction.

Or it is just coincidence. That can be well the case.

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You really can't talk about the Lynx without discussing the LCD situation. It's the cornerstone of the product.

 

Jack Tramiel's strategy from typewriters to calculators to computers to the Lynx was always the same - control the cost of a key component and drive the marketplace.

 

He lays this out in the few interviews he gave on the Commodore 64 and the Atari ST. He was always able to price aggressively because he was always guessing where the market was going. In the mass market, price is everything. With a large enough installed user base, the software will figure itself out. Tramiel had proven that at least twice before.

 

As long as the display price remained high, the Lynx was screwed. It had no place in Atari Corp's core product strategy. Preeva Tramiel, Leonard's wife, echos this when she responded to my answer to a similar question on Quora.

 

Tramiel's strategy previously worked with RAM and microprocessors, but unfortunately didn't work with the LCD.

 

Edited by Schmudde

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Reading through some old tidbits and the topic of using the Jaguar chipset in the what was considered to be the current "entry-level" Falcon as the next possible successor seemed like it would have done tremendous things from a developer support standpoint - had developers adopted it of course. Atari admitted that they really had no idea what the Falcon's place was to be outside of obvious music usage due to the DSP and MIDI ports but the TT was still the choice for DTP. Atari just hoped that aside from the music stuff, 3rd party developers would magically make it a must-have machine but it quickly became overshadowed anyways due to the rage of the Jaguar being in the limelight and primary focus and Atari's core product offering. I read something about the possibility of the Falcon being used as a video phone even, words of Sam Tramiel himself. I've never seen any examples of that.

 

Following up with that though, if Atari had went with an upgraded 68040 with GPU Chipset from the Jaguar in the 'next' Falcon, with potential support for 32 or 64MB of RAM, they could have really not only positioned themselves to offer a dedicated gaming computer that would have been unlike anything available during the time for the PC market but would've also allowed easier transition of software between both their Falcon line and Jaguar console. The Falcon would have then had a serious purpose: highly capable gaming computer, development system, video toasting, graphic rendering, internet surfing machine - it just didn't happen.

 

The true potential of the Jag's GPU was held back considerably by the restricted amount of RAM available for it to use. Even with the FPGA kits that are able to expand the RAM into much higher territory, it's highly doubtful it would ever be utilized to its full extent.

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Amiga filled the spot of the Super Duper graphics gaming/audio machine in the early 90's and it got them the same place as Atari. If no software was going to be written for the machine then no one was going to buy it.

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Reading through some old tidbits and the topic of using the Jaguar chipset in the what was considered to be the current "entry-level" Falcon as the next possible successor seemed like it would have done tremendous things from a developer support standpoint - had developers adopted it of course. Atari admitted that they really had no idea what the Falcon's place was to be outside of obvious music usage due to the DSP and MIDI ports but the TT was still the choice for DTP. Atari just hoped that aside from the music stuff, 3rd party developers would magically make it a must-have machine but it quickly became overshadowed anyways due to the rage of the Jaguar being in the limelight and primary focus and Atari's core product offering. I read something about the possibility of the Falcon being used as a video phone even, words of Sam Tramiel himself. I've never seen any examples of that.

 

Following up with that though, if Atari had went with an upgraded 68040 with GPU Chipset from the Jaguar in the 'next' Falcon, with potential support for 32 or 64MB of RAM, they could have really not only positioned themselves to offer a dedicated gaming computer that would have been unlike anything available during the time for the PC market but would've also allowed easier transition of software between both their Falcon line and Jaguar console. The Falcon would have then had a serious purpose: highly capable gaming computer, development system, video toasting, graphic rendering, internet surfing machine - it just didn't happen.

 

The true potential of the Jag's GPU was held back considerably by the restricted amount of RAM available for it to use. Even with the FPGA kits that are able to expand the RAM into much higher territory, it's highly doubtful it would ever be utilized to its full extent.

 

I like a lot of what you're saying in theory, but it would have been pretty difficult for Atari to put all this together. I've also read some rumblings about Falcon/Jaguar developments, but I haven't seen them in primary sources, so I'm a little skeptical.

 

The precedence for this is the Panther/ATW800 Transputer/Blossom video card. I think that development has been substantiated as a real endeavor. Falcon/Jaguar might have been little more than an idea floated onto the marketplace to help bolster the platform's interest. This is a known tactic of Jack's and one that Sam Tramiel used quite often.

 

Great analysis of the Falcon and the TT overall. They were neat machines but really indicative of Atari Corps problem at the time: they lost too much ground on their core position and tried to make it up on the product execution side - Falcon/DSP, TT/workstation, Portfolio/portable, Lynx/color gaming. That's a diffused lineup that would be difficult for a large computing company to execute at a high level, let alone a small one like Atari Corp. It's impressive that they did as well as they did.

 

The Jaguar was going back to the basics: clean up the product lineup and present a clear technology/price advantage. I've read a lot of people say that hyping the "64-bit" aspect of the Jaguar was a mistake because it set unrealistic expectations, but I couldn't disagree more. They had very few other options and the messaging got them to stick out in an extremely crowded marketplace.

 

Think about what else came out in the "5th generation" - Apple/Bandai Pipin, FM Towns Marty, Amiga CD32, 32x/Neptune, PC-FX, Philips CD-i, JVC X'Eye, Panasonic/Sanyo/Goldstar 3DO... and those are just the "failures" many of which were made by companies with a tremendous resource advantage over Atari. The packaging and the marketing arguably got Jaguar a higher visibility than it deserved.

 

The mistake was on the software side. Alien vs. Predator, Checkered Flag, Tiny Toon Adventures, and Kasumi Ninja had to be killer titles and Atari Corp didn't have the relationships to ensure this.

 

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The Lynx sacrificed portability and battery life in favor of amazing technical prowess, the complete opposite strategy of the Game Boy. The Game Boy's higher profile and deeper library pretty much sealed the deal in its favor (and of course, although the Game Gear was more successful than the Lynx, it too suffered from similar problems, particularly in terms of general portability and battery life).

 

What might have allowed the Lynx to live on was instead of going to the Lynx II that we got, which saw only minor relative tweaks to the hardware, Atari instead tried for a smaller unit that prioritized battery life. Atari would have literally had until 2001 with the release of the Game Boy Advance (which, even in a larger size, would have served as an ideal model for a true Lynx II) to ride on the coat-tails of their pure technological advantage. It's kind of crazy to think that the Lynx was the best handheld gaming device from a pure power standpoint from roughly 1989 to 2001. Instead, it died along with Atari itself years earlier than it otherwise might have had another company been in charge. Of course, even Sega never changed the form factor of the Game Gear, so maybe the technology simply wasn't there until roughly 2001 to even pull something like that off. Who knows?

never got the gameboy and we never carried it, has just the most horrible screen, just never understood the attraction, even with good games it's a basket case visually. battery life did not seem to me to be an issue either but i get how cheap parents thought so.

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never got the gameboy and we never carried it, has just the most horrible screen, just never understood the attraction, even with good games it's a basket case visually. battery life did not seem to me to be an issue either but i get how cheap parents thought so.

So in the Jag forum a theory that the Gameboy was successful because of cheap parents caring about not spending too much money in batteries thus dooming the Lynx is now put forth ..... brilliant.

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So in the Jag forum a theory that the Gameboy was successful because of cheap parents caring about not spending too much money in batteries thus dooming the Lynx is now put forth ..... brilliant.

among others were you even around at the time mr brilliant? Eyeroll..

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My take is that the Lynx sold worse than the N-Gage .... which was a crappy way to play games

I own one, and they are becoming expensive here as a retro gaming hardware. IMHO the only crappy thing about them is the case design (esp. the need to disassemble the unit and even take out the battery to change the game containing MMC of the retail titles). The D-Pad and buttons all work very reliably (I have played "K-Rally" a lot on this hardware), it has stereo sound and a good (for the time) screen. One could argue that a vertical screen orientation is worse for some games, but then a horizontal one is worse for others (e.g. the "Nebulus" port or the various shmups). And it had downloadable games.

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among others were you even around at the time mr brilliant? Eyeroll..

Yes I was around and for a good while at that (I got one of the first VCS available in my country at the time which would trail the US market launch by a couple of years, played the hell out of Combat and Air-Sea Battle), but STILL the theory that the Nintendo Gameboy was successful because parents were cheap when it came down to buy batteries thus dooming all other competitors must be the best one I heard so far.

 

Maybe you're older than me or maybe not, but superficial theories do NOT get better with age anyway.

Nobody says that the Lynx had bad hardware, or the Jag for that matter, but both systems missed their target big time, that's it.

We can try to understand the motives but putting forth theories based on a marginal reason is not exactly constructive.

 

By any means if you truly believe that the cost of the batteries was the one motive behind the market failure of the Lynx I will not try to convince you otherwise, at the same time I have the right to believe that this new theory is .... brilliant.

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I own one, and they are becoming expensive here as a retro gaming hardware. IMHO the only crappy thing about them is the case design (esp. the need to disassemble the unit and even take out the battery to change the game containing MMC of the retail titles). The D-Pad and buttons all work very reliably (I have played "K-Rally" a lot on this hardware), it has stereo sound and a good (for the time) screen. One could argue that a vertical screen orientation is worse for some games, but then a horizontal one is worse for others (e.g. the "Nebulus" port or the various shmups). And it had downloadable games.

The issue with that device is that it was not comfortable as either a phone or a portable console basically alienating both prospect buyers.

All other consoles were better suited as gaming devices and at 300US$ it was really not marketable to the portable gaming crowd.

 

The fact that they are now getting pricey as retro gaming hardware means little in terms of how good they fit the demands of the time in which they were marketed.

 

Again I don't think the HW itself in terms of raw capabilities was questionable, the "package", price, targeting were hence why it didn't work. Maybe it was a case of being a little too soon, it wouldn't be the first time, still in 2002 the NGage was a poor way to play your games and not much better as a taco phone, the compromise Nokia engineered simply didn't work.

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