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Why was 7800 discontinued

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The games business is about games.  The Commodore 64 welcomed development.  Atari tried handle their home computers like a VCR.  Atari had no exclusive amazing killer app to move units, so why would third party devs want to pay Atari to make games on the computers?   Mad at Nintendo for their 1987 takeover?  They made Super Mario Bros and sold those systems all by themselves.  The game biz is about games.

 

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4 hours ago, orange808 said:

The games business is about games.

One would be forgiven for assuming as much, but yes.  Yes, it is.  Oh, and keeping companies afloat by selling enough games to sustain the business.

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The Commodore 64 welcomed development.  Atari tried handle their home computers like a VCR.

Please explain what you mean by both of these statements.  Neither one is self-explanatory.

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Atari had no exclusive amazing killer app to move units, so why would third party devs want to pay Atari to make games on the computers?

Lolwut?

 

Space Invaders shifted 2600s, Star Raiders shifted A8s.  Sure, those were titles from the machines' early days, but they are the ones that really moved them into the marketplace.

 

As for third-party devs paying Atari to publish for Atari's machines...  Please do more research before spouting off about things that you clearly know nothing about.  Nobody had to pay Atari, as you suggest, to release software on their computers.  That was something Nintendo brought in with the NES, but it has bugger-all to do with Atari.

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Mad at Nintendo for their 1987 takeover?  They made Super Mario Bros and sold those systems all by themselves.  The game biz is about games.

Read, learn, and know the history of the subject you're writing about before you bang the keys.  It'll save you from making statements like these.

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Once the NES came out people played nintendo not atari. The language where I lived changed. Playing an atari meant playing an old game system from the 70s with poor graphics. The rage was for SMB and many other kids had the SMS with altered beast and hang on etc. My 1977 2600 could not do any of those things. 

Today when we talk about games we have to ask which system because there are many that normal people play. 

Back then it was atari and then nintendo. I feel like super mario bros killed atari and they were never able to make a game that was that popular. Atari meaning space invaders is dog poop in 1986. No one wanted to play old single screen simplistic arcade games.  Side scrolling with lots of levels and an actual ending was now what people wanted. Not points based zombie marathons of missile command. 

But markets and well this guy and that guy blah blah. Nintendo had Super Mario and good marketing to get people hooked on the new way to play games. I remember being too embarrassed to ask if someone wants to come over to play yars at my place.

We went in groups of 6 or 7 to the most unpopular kid's house cause his parents bought a new Nintendo from the city( 5 hour drive) and wanted to see what these nintendo commercials mixed into our saturday morning cartoons were all about. We were blown away. Fighting to gets to play next. Punches thrown etc. We all knew we needed one of these and anyone cool should have one. 

My parents were not going out to get a Nintendo so I at least had a decent skateboard. 

 

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I don't think NES killed the 7800. I love the 7800 but I never really felt like it really evolved much past the 2600. Yeah it could have better graphics but the arcade games were still basically the same. If a 7800 game had a good version on the 2600 I've never just had to seek it out.

 

There were games that tried to do different but just weren't great or had that WOW factor. 

 

The NES was just beyond the scope of the 7800. It honestly seems to me they weren't looking far enough ahead. The best 7800 games have been homebrews IMO. BBCQ is my favorite and I would put it on par with Adventure Island, but even BBCQ just doesn't have that same 'magic' that SMB did.

 

I can go back and play SMB today and still have a fun time. Hell it is why Nintendo can keep reselling the game to this day! A lot of the 7800 library has not aged well and could have been better for even that time period.

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Atari made the mistake of reselling the same game with better graphics that they had available on every other system they ever made for years. There was no creativity in games from Atari anymore. There was no killer app like SMB or Zelda. There were no RPGs or side scrolling games that the NES had multiples of. Atari's marketing was near non existent. I remember the first time I ever saw an 7800 was at a Federated that was shutting down. TRU never seemed to have carried it. Even today, the graphics of the 7800 have never surpassed the NES.

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On 9/6/2021 at 11:53 AM, Muddyfunster said:

The XEGS was pretty insignificant in the UK from what I remember, so I wouldn't agree that it did well. I think it launched pretty much at the same time as the NES and SMS and those two crushed it. I remember them (XEGS) being sold off cheap in Dixon's (high street electronics retailer) for like £50 or something. 

 

More of my friends had SMS's than NES's BITD but then, the SMS did do well in Europe overall and competed well with the NES in region.

 

 

The XEGS was another of the Atari 8 bits that seemed to crop up in catalogues but not shops. Although Argos seemed to carry it for a time in the early 90's and while they were a catalogue retailer, they operated via the high street.

 

I think Atari found a niche of selling their budget 8 bit systems into places where the less tech savvy could be enticed by the low price. I don't think the likes of Dixons were interested when they could be selling higher volume more profitable machines.

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On 9/17/2021 at 2:14 AM, x=usr(1536) said:

 

What, IMHO, really helped Amstrad to reach the point in the home computer market that they did - despite their relatively late entry into it - was their acquisition of Sinclair.  That gave them access to expanded manufacturing facilities and sales and support channels that they didn't previously have, and really enabled them to give their name a jump-start when they moved into computers.  Note that I'm not implying that all was rosy for them in those regards once they had full visibility into how Sinclair had managed those relationships, but it did at least give them something of a leg up they wouldn't have otherwise had.

Absolutely, and this is something that is important to keep in mind.  The sheer amount of flux in that market between about 1981 and 1988 or so while it found its footing was absolutely staggering.

This isn't correct. Barring the items in the supply chain at the time of the Sinclair acquisition, Amstrad immediately moved production to the Far East. Sugar wanted nothing to do with the Sinclair manufacturing chain barring being very careful about the Timex situation in Dundee. He didn't want to be the man who caused a load of people in Scotland to be laid off so when production was started on the +2 he gave Timex a contract to assemble his DMP printers.

 

The major sales channels were mainly ones Amstrad already used. It was Dixons who were instrumental in Amstrad buying the Sinclair brand (Dixons had already bailed out Sinclair before Xmas 85 but didn't fancy going the whole hog and buying the company). Dixons had initial exclusivity on the +2 as a 'thank you' for helping with the deal and agreeing to a provisional order for 100,000 units before even Sinclair knew Amstrad were interested in them. 

 

All Amstrad wanted was the Spectrum to slot into their product line. The CPC, PCW and the planned PC's. The Spectrum upped their market share however it wasn't the most important machine to them. Per unit the CPC was more profitable and if we are talking overall profits then the PCW and PC ranges sold in significant numbers (8 million PCW's at a starting price of 400 quid each). The chart below shows world market share for 1988 and how that complimentary product line mainly sold in the UK, France, Germany and Spain gave significant market share.

 

 

 

  292364395_NCEJune89MarketShare.thumb.png.34aaafb983d79c442f20b83720832dca.png

 

Edited by chinnyhill10

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On 9/27/2021 at 9:04 AM, chinnyhill10 said:

This isn't correct. Barring the items in the supply chain at the time of the Sinclair acquisition, Amstrad immediately moved production to the Far East. Sugar wanted nothing to do with the Sinclair manufacturing chain barring being very careful about the Timex situation in Dundee. He didn't want to be the man who caused a load of people in Scotland to be laid off so when production was started on the +2 he gave Timex a contract to assemble his DMP printers.

True - I remember the Timex facility in Dundee being particularly sensitive, and AMS doing everything he could to keep it going, which, to his credit, he did.

 

There are two other things that stick in my mind in relation to all of this, and I'm not entirely certain that my memory of what was happening at the time is necessarily correct.  If you could clarify them for me, it would absolutely be appreciated.

 

Here's the first one:

On 9/27/2021 at 9:04 AM, chinnyhill10 said:

The major sales channels were mainly ones Amstrad already used. It was Dixons who were instrumental in Amstrad buying the Sinclair brand (Dixons had already bailed out Sinclair before Xmas 85 but didn't fancy going the whole hog and buying the company). Dixons had initial exclusivity on the +2 as a 'thank you' for helping with the deal and agreeing to a provisional order for 100,000 units before even Sinclair knew Amstrad were interested in them.

My understanding has always been that Amstrad wanted access to Sinclair's sales channels as a volume booster, and wasn't overly-particular as to whether that volume was achieved under the Sinclair or Amstrad name provided that the machines were being manufactured at comparable cost.  Related to that, the other High Street retailers were apparently relieved to find that Dixons had not bought Sinclair as it meant no potential restriction of supply into their sales chains, or directly contributing to the financial well-being of a direct competitor.

 

The second one, and this comes back to the earlier point re: Far East manufacturing:

 

One point that I seem to recall reading somewhere was that Amstrad largely wanted to convert Sinclair's manufacturing capacity in the Far East into manufacturing of their own computers.  This would have led to a gradual phase-out of the Spectrum line, with all machines eventually being Amstrad-branded and -developed.  Do you know if there's any truth to this, or if it's simply a misconception?

 

I'll freely admit that you are certainly better-versed in Amstrad's history than I am - Amstrad had very little significance in Ireland, so it was never really one of the manufacturers that I had much hands-on time with or deep knowledge of.  Still, if I'm off-base on any of this I'd love to know so that I'm not carrying around poor information in my head that I subsequently spew elsewhere :-D

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On 9/28/2021 at 6:56 PM, x=usr(1536) said:

 

 

Here's the first one:

My understanding has always been that Amstrad wanted access to Sinclair's sales channels as a volume booster, and wasn't overly-particular as to whether that volume was achieved under the Sinclair or Amstrad name provided that the machines were being manufactured at comparable cost.  Related to that, the other High Street retailers were apparently relieved to find that Dixons had not bought Sinclair as it meant no potential restriction of supply into their sales chains, or directly contributing to the financial well-being of a direct competitor.

 

The second one, and this comes back to the earlier point re: Far East manufacturing:

 

One point that I seem to recall reading somewhere was that Amstrad largely wanted to convert Sinclair's manufacturing capacity in the Far East into manufacturing of their own computers.  This would have led to a gradual phase-out of the Spectrum line, with all machines eventually being Amstrad-branded and -developed.  Do you know if there's any truth to this, or if it's simply a misconception?

 

 

Sinclair weren't on Amstrad's radar. It was only after Dixons alerted them to a deal that they became interested. Sugar thought Robert Maxwell was lined up to buy them as per the press reports but he was told Maxwell was "full of shit" and couldn't get the money. Sugar then realised that if he had the Spectrum, not only could he produce it cheaper but it would slot straight into his line up. It didn't compete with his other computers. But it was never about market share. It was about profit. Market share means nothing if it's not making you any money (Amstrad got out of 14 inch TV's for a time, they had share but it made them no money).

 

Sinclair always aimed to make their stuff in the UK with some of the 128k's being made in Spain. They had a tie up with Samsung who produced some units for them (the issue 4S) in Korea but nothing apart from that. When asked in 1990 about his reliance on UK manufacturing, Sir Clive said "If we'd continued to produce a commodity product like the Spectrum, we would have had little choice but to produce it in the Far East". Part of his many problems was he'd got stuck with high manufacturing costs and low reliability.

 

In contrast Amstrad were old hands at Far East manufacturing by 1986. Their Hong Kong office was setup in 1981 and managed all of their subcontractors across the region. Orion were knocking out the CPC and PCW for them in South Korea and Amstrad had an array of subcontractors making TV's, Hi-Fi's, VCR's and so on. I think the large TV's they produced might have still been made in the UK in the 80's and there was also some VCR assembly.

 

Amstrad had no plans to phase out the Sinclair name. It had brand recognition and they had paid money for it. They did however toy with the idea of branding all new home computer products under the Sinclair name (aside from any CPC products). However this was only used for the disastrous Sinclair PC200. This was the same time that Amstrad purchased Fidelity and started branding all their satellite dishes "Amstrad Fidelity" for reasons nobody ever quite understood. In the end they were happy just to wheel out the Spectrum for the Christmas season and rake in the money (20 million quid of sales split evenly between the UK and Spain for Christmas 1988).

 

As for the high street thing, Dixons had taken one look at Sinclair and gone 'nope'. It was huge mess and producing a computer was far more complex than phoning up Orion and saying "make us a 14 inch TV and stick a Matsui badge on it'. So Dixons taking on the Speccy was never going to happen. That's why they wanted Sugar to buy it. He sorted the crap out and they'd still get a machine to sell.

 

There's a great book called Alan Sugar: The Amstrad Story by David Thomas that can be picked up for next to nothing that details all of this stuff (I've been referring to it for this post). It really is a must read.

 

Edited by chinnyhill10
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On 9/17/2021 at 3:05 PM, zzip said:

Atari seemed to be on top 82-83, when home computer market was smaller, but 83 was when the home computer market really started to take off,  but there were a few things that set back the Atari line:

1. FCC rules - one reason the 400/800 were built like tanks was to meet FCC RF requirements.  FCC relaxed these rules at some point.   C64 came out after these rules were relaxed, so they were able to deliver a 64K computer with full keyboard but with  a much lower build quality and cost than the Atari 800

2. Atari responds with the cheaper XL line, 800XL in theory should be competitive with C64,  but manufacturing issues caused the XLs to be in short supply during the crucial Christmas 83.  

3. Mid 84 - Atari sale- this threw Atari into chaos,  developers took a wait-and-see approach, new software becomes scarce.  800XLs and 1050s start showing up at retail at close-out prices (which might have signaled to consumers that Atari is getting out of the computer or at least 8-bit business)

4. 85 - Atari announces the XE and ST line which signals that the new Atari will continue the 8-bit product line.  The software situation begins to improve somewhat, but by this point Atari is far behind the C64

 

So I think the 8-bit line might have done better if the Atari had handled any of the above pivot points differently

I don't buy the Atari Jack sale causing computer problem.

 

It is clear compared to other competitors even if you remove Commodore systems there was never any great demand for Atari computer. Only the game console.

 

8 bit died very quick In US after 84, huge % drop.

 

What proves more is the ST success, Jack did something Warner failed to do.

 

Remember Atari when you add each manufacture models together was 4 or 5th place starting maybe early as 1981.

 

I like the Atari computers, I think it's better than 2600 for games, but only minor group actually wanted them back then.

 

Commodore was more popular before C64, as was some others.

 

Only when starting from scratch with ST did actually put Atari foot in the door. No coincidence as Jack also brought C64 to peaks before he was terminated. 

 

Warner had more money than Jack C64 invested in Atari computers, here is the question: what did Jack do right with ST, that Warner did not do with Atari 8 bit for almost ten years? Warner wasted near billion dollars, did nothing.

 

 

 

Edited by James Vontor
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This thread is the perfect example of flogging, and flogging, and flogging again the same dead horse.

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4 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

This thread is the perfect example of flogging, and flogging, and flogging again the same dead horse.

Right? I think we need a FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE thread, some members would literally live there. 😆

Edited by OldSchoolRetroGamer
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Well,

 

People love the 7800!  Yeah Why aren't they still making them?    I'd buy one!  Oh wait,  I already own 3...Hhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

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14 hours ago, James Vontor said:

Warner had more money than Jack C64 invested in Atari computers, here is the question: what did Jack do right with ST, that Warner did not do with Atari 8 bit for almost ten years? Warner wasted near billion dollars, did nothing.

Warner was running a videogame company that also sold computers.

 

Jack was running a computer company that also sold videogames, and the ST was his signature product.   Every product line that wasn't ST didn't get as much attention/investment as it needed.   So they were focusing most of their limited resources on the ST.

 

I wouldn't say the ST was a huge success either.   It sold well at first..  it was the most affordable 16-bit computer at the time.   But it only did well for a couple of years before.   By 88, the Amiga 500 was giving it a run for its money and it was already becoming clear that PC was going to be the dominant platform.

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Under warner, Atari seemed to be going in a hundred directions at once. Games! Entertainment Centers! Computers! Phones! Medical equipment! Entertainment Centers Again!

 

Seems to me Warner wanted Atari to become a general tech company, but their developers wanted to focus on entertainment. And they were growing too fast, so they spent a ton of money on these new directions without making a profit. Then, when these new investments didn't pan out immediately, they'd cancel them, leaving them with an aging console which wasn't able to compete with the new systems on the market.

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18 minutes ago, pacman000 said:

And they were growing too fast,

I think it's this in a nutshell.    They didn't really understand why they became successful, and as a result they clearly didn't understand what they needed to do to stay successful.  So they kept spending tons of money on anything that sounded good at the time.

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19 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

This thread is the perfect example of flogging, and flogging, and flogging again the same dead horse.

As somebody who has a Bachelor's in History, sometimes you need to flog a dead horse repeatedly in order to gain greater understanding of the past. You'd think we've flogged WWII or the Civil War to death, but no. Every year a Ph.D. or two will release an academic article with a differing interpretation or publish a book with new information for us to peruse.

Edited by empsolo
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Well after about Xmas 1987 everything produced on the C64 was in the god awful 'for testing only' character based multicolor mode so was a waste of time anyway. Even without that disgusting attitude of software houses towards C64 development you had the issue of price of cartridges so if you could afford it you got a Megadrive, if not you got a used computer and bought budget games on tape for a few quid, 

 

It's the same reason the NES was a dead donkey by 1991 in the EU, who wants to pay Megadrive cart prices for NES graphics/sound lol.

 

next to the phrase "flogging a dead horse" there should be a picture of Irving Gould holding a 1982 silver label C64 in one hand and 1992 64C in the other! The only reason these home computers sold was excellent budget games for pocket money (which is why the NES is a failure in the EU tape based budget end of video gaming market). Twenty quid for a C64 game on disk in 1991? No thanks, I'd rather play Lotus challenge on an ST for 20 quid. As Bob Dylan noted, the times they were a changing :)

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7 hours ago, oky2000 said:

It's the same reason the NES was a dead donkey by 1991 in the EU, who wants to pay Megadrive cart prices for NES graphics/sound lol.

Except the Master System had a better market share than the Mega Drive in the UK in 1992. And the NES was still doing well in other European countries.

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10 hours ago, oky2000 said:

Well after about Xmas 1987 everything produced on the C64 was in the god awful 'for testing only' character based multicolor mode so was a waste of time anyway. Even without that disgusting attitude of software houses towards C64 development you had the issue of price of cartridges so if you could afford it you got a Megadrive, if not you got a used computer and bought budget games on tape for a few quid, 

 

It's the same reason the NES was a dead donkey by 1991 in the EU, who wants to pay Megadrive cart prices for NES graphics/sound lol.

 

next to the phrase "flogging a dead horse" there should be a picture of Irving Gould holding a 1982 silver label C64 in one hand and 1992 64C in the other! The only reason these home computers sold was excellent budget games for pocket money (which is why the NES is a failure in the EU tape based budget end of video gaming market). Twenty quid for a C64 game on disk in 1991? No thanks, I'd rather play Lotus challenge on an ST for 20 quid. As Bob Dylan noted, the times they were a changing :)

Pretty sure the NES was the market leading console in Germany 1991, all my friends got one for Xmas 1991, we too.

NES had the far biggest shelf in our local toy store, among the GameBoy. There was also a little Atari until 1990. No Lynx of course.

I know that some classmates were totally drooling over the Lynx, but it was hard to get games and hardware for it, and it was too expensive. 

 

Edited by agradeneu
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The UK was never representative of Europe anyway. Because of the ZX Spectrum, 8-bit computers did a lot better there than in the rest of Europe. See these figures from 1988:

So the NES wasn't very popular in the UK indeed (3,8% of the market share, more than both the Game Gear and the Game Boy, though), but even though the Master System was the most popular console in 1992 (7,4%), it was far behind both ZX Spectrum (14,1%) and Commodore 64 (26,1%), and the Amiga (19,8%):

 

Also, later, UK gamers started to import a lot more from the US since they didn't have the language barrier the rest of Europe had. I was told the UK market has been quite similar to the US one for the past two decades, but I have no info of that.

 

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3 hours ago, roots.genoa said:

The UK was never representative of Europe anyway. Because of the ZX Spectrum, 8-bit computers did a lot better there than in the rest of Europe. See these figures from 1988:

So the NES wasn't very popular in the UK indeed (3,8% of the market share, more than both the Game Gear and the Game Boy, though), but even though the Master System was the most popular console in 1992 (7,4%), it was far behind both ZX Spectrum (14,1%) and Commodore 64 (26,1%), and the Amiga (19,8%):

 

Also, later, UK gamers started to import a lot more from the US since they didn't have the language barrier the rest of Europe had. I was told the UK market has been quite similar to the US one for the past two decades, but I have no info of that.

 

Exactly. 

 

You've also only got to look at something like the Amstrad CPC, which fared a lot better in France than it did in the UK. 

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18 hours ago, empsolo said:

As somebody who has a Bachelor's in History, sometimes you need to flog a dead horse repeatedly in order to gain greater understanding of the past. You'd think we've flogged WWII or the Civil War to death, but no. Every year a Ph.D. or two will release an academic article with a differing interpretation or publish a book with new information for us to peruse.

I wholeheartedly agree - provided that there is new information coming to light, or a different perspective being offered.  That's not happening here, with the possible exception of the thread going off into the weeds over unrelated matters.

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20 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

I wholeheartedly agree - provided that there is new information coming to light, or a different perspective being offered.  That's not happening here, with the possible exception of the thread going off into the weeds over unrelated matters.

Should we post tacos instead?   would that make you happy?

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2 minutes ago, zzip said:

Should we post tacos instead?   would that make you happy?

Absolutely!  Tacos are awesome!

 

So what brought out the cranky in you today, sweetheart?

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