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Lord Mushroom

Did Commodore make any games?

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Commodore published a number of games early on, mainly VIC-20 and C64 cartridges. Some were programmed inhouse, others came from the precursors to HAL Labs or other contracted parties around the world. Some were licensed home versions from Bally Midway and others, some were just clones or original concepts. Some was from user groups or other forms of public domain libraries, which Commodore compiled on disk or tape and sold. On the VIC side, Commodore contributed a reasonable share of the total library. On the C64 side, they might make up for 1-5% of the total library.

 

Actually after a few years, Commodore in their internal company reports didn't even recognize the C64 as a games computer anymore. They insisted it could be used for telecomms and alike instead of pushing as the low end gaming system it was. Even less Commodore wanted the Amiga to become a games computer, despite that was exactly what it was designed for in the beginning. I think in the early years with Jack Tramiel, there was some recognition that games would sell hardware and that games themselves might be profitable, but once he left the company in early 1984, the new CEO and board members determined IBM was the big competitor and IBM wasn't exactly a games company (though they made a half hearted attempt with the PC jr).

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1 hour ago, carlsson said:

Commodore in their internal company reports didn't even recognize the C64 as a games computer anymore.

Funny bit about that is Commodore created a game system based upon the C64.

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If you refer to the C64GS, that was another 5 years into time as a last resort trying to ride on the NES/SMS success. Even Atari acted quicker with the XEGS.

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2 hours ago, carlsson said:

If you refer to the C64GS, that was another 5 years into time as a last resort trying to ride on the NES/SMS success. Even Atari acted quicker with the XEGS.

Nonetheless, Commodore used the guts of a computer it considered not to be a game computer and slapped the "game system" moniker on it :)  I mean, it contained the same friggen motherboard with the cassette and user ports hidden inside!

donald duck laughing GIF

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Let's not forget the Commodore MAX.   Based on the same chipset at the 64, but with 2K of RAM, no BASIC, no serial port, no monitor jack and a touch sensitive keyboard, it was clearly intended to be a games console in a similar vein as the Sord M5.

 

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Yeah, I accounted for the MAX library within those 1-5% of the total C64 compatible library. :)

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On 5/11/2020 at 4:20 PM, carlsson said:

Commodore published a number of games early on, mainly VIC-20 and C64 cartridges. Some were programmed inhouse, others came from the precursors to HAL Labs or other contracted parties around the world. Some were licensed home versions from Bally Midway and others, some were just clones or original concepts. Some was from user groups or other forms of public domain libraries, which Commodore compiled on disk or tape and sold. On the VIC side, Commodore contributed a reasonable share of the total library. On the C64 side, they might make up for 1-5% of the total library.

 

Actually after a few years, Commodore in their internal company reports didn't even recognize the C64 as a games computer anymore. They insisted it could be used for telecomms and alike instead of pushing as the low end gaming system it was. Even less Commodore wanted the Amiga to become a games computer, despite that was exactly what it was designed for in the beginning. I think in the early years with Jack Tramiel, there was some recognition that games would sell hardware and that games themselves might be profitable, but once he left the company in early 1984, the new CEO and board members determined IBM was the big competitor and IBM wasn't exactly a games company (though they made a half hearted attempt with the PC jr).

funny how a search for prestige cost commodore what they actually had.

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For that matter, I've seen very early VIC-20 internal documents about how Commodore planned to handle cartridge distribution. Either they would receive contributions from outside which they evaluated to see if it fit into their library, and thus setting up royalties as such, or they would sell ready made cartridge PCBs to other publishers, or they would seek royalities from anyone coming up with their own PCB design in order to publish cartridges. I'm not sure #2 or in particular #3 ever happened, and possibly after some time on the market they realized it was not feasible to prevent 3rd party publishers as the system didn't have any form of lock mechanism. Quite possibly the availability of 3rd party games, both on cartridge and tape, helped sell quite a number of VIC's in the end.

 

I'm not sure Commodore ever could've been dominant as a games publisher for their own system, but certainly they could have tried a bit more and once they saw that the C64 by 1985 mainly was a gaming system, don't spend any particular money or thinking resources how to convert it into something else than what the market wanted, as the 8-bit part of the business market was slowly going out anyway.

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I had the impression that some computer companies were more interested in selling hardware than software.  They all recognise that without software the hardware won't sell.  So early on they make an effort to publish software but are happy when third parties publish for their systems and provide the support for them.  Commodore and IBM were like this.  Texas Instruments on the other hand discouraged third party publishers.

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True, but Jack early on used the razor and razor blade analogy, that they would sell the hardware at somewhat discounted prices and make money on the software and peripherals.

 

I believe Dave has posted most of the scans to Archive.org, besides posting on Facebook. I should look up some and link here, some of those internal docs are quite amusing to read, in particular the strategic plans for 1985-86 as developed by external consultants. As I noted, around that time when the C64 was shining at its strongest as an entry level gaming computer and the Amiga was about to enter the market with reasonably gaming optimized hardware, I think the strategic plan had perhaps 1 mention in 30-ish pages of text about games, and that was referencing to a flight simulator. Sure, the video games crash was just a few years earlier but it was not like everyone had quit playing games just because the old consoles went out of the market.

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This is a quote from an ex-commodore employee around 1985.  Tramiel left commodore in 1984.

 

"Commodore has always paid lip service to software. They do enough to get by and then rely on outside sources to fill the gap. Commodore was an extension of Jack Tramiel, and to him software wasn't tangible--you couldn't hold it, feel it, or touch it--so it wasn't worth spending money for."

 

I also remember a Tramiel interview, during Atari Corp times, when asked about software.  His answer was something like that he doesn't want to dictate how his computers are to be used.  He will leave that to the consumer.

Edited by mr_me

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