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Did Atari ever plan an ST-based console like the XEgs?

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The 7800+XEgs were old tech when released, and Jaguar was years away, and by the time it came out, Atari had fallen way behind.

 

Did Atari ever consider producing an ST-based game console? It could've ditch the floppy, keyboard, mouse to bring down costs, and go all cart-based (so more like the 5200 than the XEgs). There was already an existing library of games that could be converted to cart. Could've been more competitive in the 16-bit console era than the consoles they had.

 

I know there was Panther, but that was a separate design

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Never heard of Atari wanting to do with the ST what Commodore did twice with the Amiga: CDTV and CD32, though we essentially have that now with the Jaguar. See all the ST ports for it lately? :lol:

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Wasn't there an Amstrad computer that had a console version that did well, badly?

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The 7800+XEgs were old tech when released, and Jaguar was years away, and by the time it came out, Atari had fallen way behind.

 

Did Atari ever consider producing an ST-based game console? It could've ditch the floppy, keyboard, mouse to bring down costs, and go all cart-based (so more like the 5200 than the XEgs). There was already an existing library of games that could be converted to cart. Could've been more competitive in the 16-bit console era than the consoles they had.

 

I know there was Panther, but that was a separate design

The 7800 was old tech? It's like saying the NES is old tech, because it was released in 1983 (Famicom)

 

The Atari ST was a million seller, why turn it into console?

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The 7800 was old tech? It's like saying the NES is old tech, because it was released in 1983 (Famicom)

 

The Atari ST was a million seller, why turn it into console?

And yet the 7800 paled against the NES. It was outdated by the time it released, with mostly old games.

 

Why turn the ST into a console? Well why turn the 400 into the 5200 or the XE into the XEgs? The ST's tech was more relevant to the state of console gaming in the late 80s/early 90s than the 1979 technology of the XEgs. Plus they could sell millions more...

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And yet the 7800 paled against the NES.

 

 

You were talking about old tech, to which I replied the NES was actually older than the Atari 7800.

Of course, by the time the NES was released with its older, older tech and games, we were already playing better 16bit games on Atari ST and (1/2 year later) Amiga 500. So the NES was like older, older, older tech with outdated, primitive games.

Edited by high voltage

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You were talking about old tech, to which I replied the NES was actually older than the Atari 7800.

Of course, by the time the NES was released with its older, older tech and games, we were already playing better 16bit games on Atari ST and (1/2 year later) Amiga 500. So the NES was like older, older, older tech with outdated, primitive games.

 

I'm probably making a mistake inserting myself into this, but I'm having trouble parsing this statement.

 

The 7800 was outdated when it was finally released in 1986. In 1984 when it was first test marketed it wasn't *quite* so outdated, but the sound chip was still a carryover from the 2600 and was actually inferior to the 5200 that was launched in 1982. It doesn't really matter that the 7800 itself is "newer" than the NES; its technology was less capable and really always was. A system released two years later than another system should be more capable, not less. Atari's problem was that they didn't design the 7800 to compete with the NES; they designed it to compete with the ColecoVision and quickly replace the 5200.

 

And comparing a $100 game console to an $800+ computer usually isn't very fruitful. That's also why the ST itself wouldn't be a replacement for a game console based on it, although that isn't to say an STGS would have been a great idea either.

Edited by spacecadet

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I'm probably making a mistake inserting myself into this, but I'm having trouble parsing this statement.

 

The 7800 was outdated when it was finally released in 1986. In 1984 when it was first test marketed it wasn't *quite* so outdated, but the sound chip was still a carryover from the 2600 and was actually inferior to the 5200 that was launched in 1982. It doesn't really matter that the 7800 itself is "newer" than the NES; its technology was less capable and really always was. A system released two years later than another system should be more capable, not less. Atari's problem was that they didn't design the 7800 to compete with the NES; they designed it to compete with the ColecoVision and quickly replace the 5200.

 

And comparing a $100 game console to an $800+ computer usually isn't very fruitful. That's also why the ST itself wouldn't be a replacement for a game console based on it, although that isn't to say an STGS would have been a great idea either.

 

In some ways the 7800 was superior to the NES, but it didn't matter when there were only like 11 games, most of which were stale early 80s arcade ports. Plus the controller sucked.

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I'm probably making a mistake inserting myself into this, but I'm having trouble parsing this statement.

 

The 7800 was outdated when it was finally released in 1986. In 1984 when it was first test marketed it wasn't *quite* so outdated, but the sound chip was still a carryover from the 2600 and was actually inferior to the 5200 that was launched in 1982. It doesn't really matter that the 7800 itself is "newer" than the NES; its technology was less capable and really always was. A system released two years later than another system should be more capable, not less. Atari's problem was that they didn't design the 7800 to compete with the NES; they designed it to compete with the ColecoVision and quickly replace the 5200.

 

And comparing a $100 game console to an $800+ computer usually isn't very fruitful. That's also why the ST itself wouldn't be a replacement for a game console based on it, although that isn't to say an STGS would have been a great idea either.

Right, The 7800s only real innovation was the sprite hardware. The graphics were not innovative enough, with most games stuck with most games still stuck with the blocky-looking 160x240 resolution while NES was using 256x240. And using the 2600s sound hardware was a true WTF decision.

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I feel like we've beaten this dead horse to a bloody pulp by now.

 

The long and short of it is that both Atari Inc and Atari Corp made questionable business decisions in regards to the 7800s development, the level of investment on 7800 software, the continuation of support for the 2600 and the 8-bit computing line (including the development of the XEGS), and the level of continued development of the ST line. Long story short you had a company trying to support 4 major product lines that simply didn't have the capacity (or willingness) to do so. With I don't think Atari had the capacity to develop a 16-bit console at the time -- ST based or not.

 

 

As an aside I wonder if Atari and Epyx could have developed the Handy/Lynx hardware into a console. Its basic hardware doesn't seem all that radically different than the Turbo-Grafx 16 and I suppose it may have been possible to incorporate a WDC 65816 instead of the 65SC02 if being truly 16 bit mattered.

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Wasn't there an Amstrad computer that had a console version that did well, badly?

The GX-4000, which was based on the Amstrad Plus series. Released (both the Plus and GX-4000) in 1990, way past Amstrad's golden 8 bits era.

It's hard to say it did "badly" as it sold 150 000 units in one year, in the UK and France. Considering that the NES sold 500 000 system between 1987 and 1990 in France, it's not THAT bad :D

But Amstrad pulled the plug in 1991 so we'll never know.

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Wasn't the ST itself not designed for games anyway? It had no hardware sprites or scrolling, just a framebuffer.

This is true, but if they put the blitter in the console, it would help compensate for lack of sprites. If they added STe features, they'd have hardware scrolling. Of course to cut costs they'd probably add neither :D

 

I feel like we've beaten this dead horse to a bloody pulp by now.

 

The long and short of it is that both Atari Inc and Atari Corp made questionable business decisions in regards to the 7800s development, the level of investment on 7800 software, the continuation of support for the 2600 and the 8-bit computing line (including the development of the XEGS), and the level of continued development of the ST line. Long story short you had a company trying to support 4 major product lines that simply didn't have the capacity (or willingness) to do so. With I don't think Atari had the capacity to develop a 16-bit console at the time -- ST based or not.

But they invested in developing the Panther and Jaguar. Those were completely new developments that required game libraries, which is a major undertaking.

 

Remember they created the ST in just 6-9 months. Surely they could turn it into a console just as quickly?

ST had a large library of games that included CURRENT popular titles, so they would just need to convert them to a cartridge format-- which is something they were willing to do for the XEgs. The XEgs and 7800 featured mostly old titles that the NES-era kids were just not interested in.

 

And did they really need to create the XEgs? It never made sense to me to market both the 7800 and XEgs at the same time since they probably ate into each other's sales. 7800 (in 86) and STgs (in 89/90) instead seems to make more sense.

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And did they really need to create the XEgs? Of course not, but they did and I say why not. Take risks, experiment, be brave. I'm glad they did because we got some nice cartridge games in tow. So why complain about that?

it is a nice piece of hardware to own anyway.

Edited by high voltage

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Wasn't the ST itself not designed for games anyway? It had no hardware sprites or scrolling, just a framebuffer.

The Atari ST was an all-round multi purpose computer, which was a big success, for example, in the music industry, and it's still in use today.

The companies never had first and foremost games in mind when designing a computer. Well, Amiga is an exception, as Jay Miner wanted to make the best gaming console.

Edited by high voltage

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The GX-4000, which was based on the Amstrad Plus series. Released (both the Plus and GX-4000) in 1990, way past Amstrad's golden 8 bits era.

It's hard to say it did "badly" as it sold 150 000 units in one year, in the UK and France. Considering that the NES sold 500 000 system between 1987 and 1990 in France, it's not THAT bad :D

But Amstrad pulled the plug in 1991 so we'll never know.

 

It is just pity we did have more game for it , and mainly the game released were just lazy port of old Amstrad CPC without exploiting the new hardware feature.

 

But game showed that the console hardware was not so bad. It you look at Burn Rubber, Batman , Robocop , Pang , Tennis , there was a potential.

 

I hope one day have time to create an homebrew game for that console really exploiting the hardware , sprites and palettes.

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But they invested in developing the Panther and Jaguar. Those were completely new developments that required game libraries, which is a major undertaking.

 

Remember they created the ST in just 6-9 months. Surely they could turn it into a console just as quickly?

ST had a large library of games that included CURRENT popular titles, so they would just need to convert them to a cartridge format-- which is something they were willing to do for the XEgs. The XEgs and 7800 featured mostly old titles that the NES-era kids were just not interested in.

 

And did they really need to create the XEgs? It never made sense to me to market both the 7800 and XEgs at the same time since they probably ate into each other's sales. 7800 (in 86) and STgs (in 89/90) instead seems to make more sense.

 

I am really thinking in the 87-90 time range here. The fast development of the ST showed some foresight in needing a capable 16-bit computer in order to be relevant in the home computer market going forward. That Atari failed to develop the ST in a timely manner is a symptom of their problems. Likewise the decision to basically go all-in on the Jaguar represented a major shift in the company -- and I believe leadership by that point. My original point was that Atari Corp in the late 80s simply was trying to do too many things and none of them all too well. Arguably the XEGS should have never happened and the entire 8-bit line phased out. I don't know if having both the XEGS and 7800 out there confused consumers (I remember as a 7 year old wanting the XEGS) but it split resources and attention that should have been focused on the 7800. Plus continuing to produce new 2600 hardware and software at the same time.

 

Of course this doesn't even answer the question as to whether or not a consolized ST would have made a good console to compete with the Genesis and SNES, let alone a cost effective one.

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It is just pity we did have more game for it , and mainly the game released were just lazy port of old Amstrad CPC without exploiting the new hardware feature.

 

But game showed that the console hardware was not so bad. It you look at Burn Rubber, Batman , Robocop , Pang , Tennis , there was a potential.

 

I hope one day have time to create an homebrew game for that console really exploiting the hardware , sprites and palettes.

Yep. The Plus series should have been released in 1986/87 at best, and certainly around that time, it would have gained a bit of traction.If I remember, developers for the Plus computer series quickly found how to bypass the built-in lock that prevented floppy games to use the Plus features? (a stupid decision, even if I can understand the logic behind it).

I have a 6128 Plus with Burning Rubber and Batman, so I know there was potential. It was just a good example of "too little too late".

Edited by CatPix

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My original point was that Atari Corp in the late 80s simply was trying to do too many things and none of them all too well.

It's true, they were, and they had that Abaq workstation thing that went nowhere as well.

 

 

Arguably the XEGS should have never happened and the entire 8-bit line phased out. I don't know if having both the XEGS and 7800 out there confused consumers (I remember as a 7 year old wanting the XEGS) but it split resources and attention that should have been focused on the 7800.

 

I was in an Atari User group that was hosting an Atari Faire at the time the XEgs got announced (Atari may even have announced it at our show, I don't remember for sure). Anyway, I remember the 8-bit users being very unhappy about it. They wanted their computers to be taken seriously, and were begging Atari for upgrades like Apple and C64 were getting, so they felt releasing a new XE in the guise of a game system was a slap in the face. I remember Bill Wilkenson of OSS was there, and he was defending the XEgs because it had a nice detachable keyboard that could easily fit on your lap, like a PC, but the users weren't buying that.

 

I can't say I knew anyone who owned one-- I think it was a niche product at best. Whether or not they confused consumers, I don't know, but they were both 8-bit with many of the same titles. I doubt most people bought both-- which limited the market potential of each.

 

I'd say it probably should never have been made-- not with the 7800 on the market anyway.

 

 

Plus continuing to produce new 2600 hardware and software at the same time.

 

 

Atari's reason for that was they were selling tons of 2600s to the developing world in the late 80s. That's what lead them to produce the 2600jr when it seemed long past its expiration date in the 1st world. A valid reason I think.

 

Of course this doesn't even answer the question as to whether or not a consolized ST would have made a good console to compete with the Genesis and SNES, let alone a cost effective one.

I don't know, but the outdated tech and games of the 7800/XEGS was not enough for Atari to keep their position in console world, and by the time the Jag came out, it was too late. They needed a console in the 1989/90 timeframe to stop the bleeding, and an ST console would have been state of the art with modern games. If Sega could product an affordable Genesis, Atari should have been able to cost-reduce the ST enough to make a console in 89, it was 4 year old tech by then!

Edited by zzip

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Yep. The Plus series should have been released in 1986/87 at best, and certainly around that time, it would have gained a bit of traction.If I remember, developers for the Plus computer series quickly found how to bypass the built-in lock that prevented floppy games to use the Plus features? (a stupid decision, even if I can understand the logic behind it).

I have a 6128 Plus with Burning Rubber and Batman, so I know there was potential. It was just a good example of "too little too late".

 

Recently i have bought this 32 in 1 cartridge for the GX4000 , you have i think all the games running on the machine. (even some recent homebrew as bonus) . I'm very happy with it.

 

But warning this cartridge works only with the GX4000 , for 6128+ you have to ask the creator for a special one because due to the shape it does not fit the cartridge port of the computer.

 

http://retroelectronik.com/fr/x-en-1-multijeux/75-amstrad-gx4000-multicart-32-in-one-32-jeux-en-une-cartouche-.html

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There is also a flash cart that can take more games, and even classic CPc games (but they need to be converted first).

 

Wasn't the ST itself not designed for games anyway? It had no hardware sprites or scrolling, just a framebuffer.

The biggest issue I would see with the Atari ST being a console isn't the hardware.

Atari could have added the STe abilities into the ST, or just modify it a bit.

Or even leave it stock.

 

The issue I see the most would have been the same that Atari faced with the Lynx :

Lack of famous titles.

When computer went to 8 to 16 bits, developers found that (aside from the Amiga) they had machines with loads of RAM, amazing amounts of cheap storage space, but systems that lacked usually in the video department. So they developped (or expanded) other styles of games, like strategy games, point-n-click, etc.

The problem with an Atari ST console would have been that most games on it would be familiar to computer gamers, but not console gamers, with (at is happened on the Lynx) developers that were familiar to computer gamers but unknow for console gamers.

People owning a ST wouldn't buy a ST console, especially with cartridge support being more expensive than floppies.

Console gamers would prefer to buy the more high profile SNES and Megadrive.

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There were talks of an ST-based games machine. It was in one of the major ST magazines (STart?) in a column where Lee Isgur confirmed it.

 

I recall Bob Brodie came to our user group meeting and confirmed that it was NOT happening. Why? Because the XEGS flopped after it was initially released. It proved to them that converting a computer into a game system was not a good idea. It's probably why they started the Panther and Jaguar - design a game system from the ground up.

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I recall Bob Brodie came to our user group meeting and confirmed that it was NOT happening. Why? Because the XEGS flopped after it was initially released. It proved to them that converting a computer into a game system was not a good idea. It's probably why they started the Panther and Jaguar - design a game system from the ground up.

Well I would say that the real lesson was that converting the XE into an outdated console in 87 was the bad idea. With more current hardware and games it might have worked

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The issue I see the most would have been the same that Atari faced with the Lynx :

Lack of famous titles.

When computer went to 8 to 16 bits, developers found that (aside from the Amiga) they had machines with loads of RAM, amazing amounts of cheap storage space, but systems that lacked usually in the video department. So they developped (or expanded) other styles of games, like strategy games, point-n-click, etc.

The problem with an Atari ST console would have been that most games on it would be familiar to computer gamers, but not console gamers, with (at is happened on the Lynx) developers that were familiar to computer gamers but unknow for console gamers.

People owning a ST wouldn't buy a ST console, especially with cartridge support being more expensive than floppies.

Console gamers would prefer to buy the more high profile SNES and Megadrive.

The ST did have a lot of titles that were familiar to arcade and console players though:

APB

Altered Beast

Arkanoid

Dungeon Master

Double Dragon

Golden Axe

Shadow of the Beast

Gauntlet/Gauntlet II

Hard Drivin'

Outrun

Paperboy

Tetris

 

To name just a few, it also had its share of fighting games/side scrollers/ and racing games that were popular in that era. There was enough to get a decent launch library-- then it would be up to Atari to get other popular games ported. The ST would stand a better chance in this area than the XE did.

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