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Would Atari had been better off if Bushnell hadn´t sold it?

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123 members have voted

  1. 1. Would Atari had been better off if Bushnell hadn´t sold it to Warner?

    • Probably yes
      49
    • Probably no
      38
    • I have no idea
      36


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2 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

Is there a corroborating source for the Jim Whims ultimatum?

I have no idea.  I have read that book which Wikipedia also uses that as the source of the quote.

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48 minutes ago, Downland1983 said:

 

Retailers got themselves burned in the early 80's by carrying a glut of bad third party games they couldn't sell at full price, because they didn't understand the market yet, and so they stopped carrying everything.  I personally remember trips with my father in the mid-80's to Toys R Us in the tri-state area of the US looking for "new" games for our ColecoVision and being disappointed that there weren't any anymore.  My older brother and I had to use our TRS-80 CoCo2 to get through those years until the NES arrived.  That's when gaming mags started circulating around the school buses and cafeterias again.  Not because it was a cool fad again, but because it was something that was available again.

I mentioned this before but the drop in demand, wasn't really a drop in demand but more that people near retailers that had a fit stopped carrying games so they couldn't access them.

 

The large piles of bargain bin games was due to the crash not s cause as is often wrongly cited. The companies were bankrupt so retailers couldn't push the stock back.

 

This also happened with computers to a degree.

 

Even now I dont think most retailers get the gaming market. Maybe more so than then yeah, but not to well otherwise. I've see retailers the last 15 years still make reactionary moved that dont make sense.

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I did not know that Nolan Bushnell helped to promote the CDTV. People of the 90's really thought that multimedia was the Next Big ThingTM.

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1 hour ago, empsolo said:

I did not know that Nolan Bushnell helped to promote the CDTV. People of the 90's really thought that multimedia was the Next Big ThingTM.

Yep, CD-i was going to bring us interactive movies, annouced, previewed, hyped and delayed. 

 

This blew my mind at the time :

 

 

 

And of course Sam Tramiel was in the UK press saying Atari had the CDST waiting I'm the wings and could launch whenever they liked, even though it had no software. 

 

 

Multimedia reared it's head again with the Playstation 3 if i remember, didn't Sony at one stage use the marketing tag line, it only does everything.. 

 

 

This after mocking the 3DO and Saturn for being multimedia machines, Sony Europe calling them the Swiss Army knives of gaming, but you wouldn't eat a meal using a Swiss Army knife.. 

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7 hours ago, Downland1983 said:

Worlds of Wonder was hugely successful with Teddy Ruxpin and Laser Tag at the time.  They were able to use that as leverage with retailers on Nintendo's behalf.  As WoW salesman Jim Whimms told it, if a retailer didn't want to place an order for the NES, they needn't bother placing an order for the currently hot toy items of Teddy Ruxpin or Laser Tag either.

 

To retailers who were bitterly adamant against hearing the words "video game", WoW salesman Jim Whims distinctly recalled delivering an ultimatum: "if you want to sell Teddy Ruxpin and you want to sell Lazer Tag, you're gonna sell Nintendo as well. And if you feel that strongly about it, then you ought to just resign the line now." Historian Steven Kent wrote, "Anyone who wanted to sell Teddy Ruxpin and Lazer Tag, including Sears and Toys R Us, was going to hear about the Nintendo Entertainment System."

Yes, but that shows that WoW/Nintendo required bundling of their own products -- not that WoW/Nintendo threatened to withhold stock if the company sold a competitor's product.  The whole "Atari suffered because of Nintendo's unfair business practices" seems a bit weak if this is the only evidence.  It would also seem to imply that the retailers had a preexisting distrust of the Atari brand when it came to "video games," providing a fairly solid reason for the lack of ordering of such things in the future.

Edited by DavidD

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You're dodging the shelf space strong arming which was a bigger issue than the threats.

 

3 hours ago, empsolo said:

I did not know that Nolan Bushnell helped to promote the CDTV. People of the 90's really thought that multimedia was the Next Big ThingTM.

It was, but almost every company implemented it wrong.

 

Granted Philips did move 1 million CD-i disc players. According to them anyway.

 

1 hour ago, Lostdragon said:

Yep, CD-i was going to bring us interactive movies, annouced, previewed, hyped and delayed. 

 

This blew my mind at the time :

 

 

 

And of course Sam Tramiel was in the UK press saying Atari had the CDST waiting I'm the wings and could launch whenever they liked, even though it had no software. 

 

 

Multimedia reared it's head again with the Playstation 3 if i remember, didn't Sony at one stage use the marketing tag line, it only does everything.. 

 

 

This after mocking the 3DO and Saturn for being multimedia machines, Sony Europe calling them the Swiss Army knives of gaming, but you wouldn't eat a meal using a Swiss Army knife.. 

360 kind of did it first before PS3, but PS3 clearly had more enthusiast multimedia features in quantity.

 

They really expected it to replace your PC too.

 

But considering the trend the company was going in before PS3 launched (outside gaming) I get why they were so aggressive on making a console a replacement device for your home media devices. 

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13 hours ago, Lostdragon said:

Did Epyx approach anyone besides Sega and Nintendo, before going to Atari? 

 

 

Nintendo i believe already had the Game Boy well into development in their R+D labs, was it a similar situation with Sega and Project Mercury aka The Game Gear? 

 

Sega in effect not needing the Handy, as their plan was to in effect produce a portable version of the Master System hardware? 

Not that we should uncritically accept Wikipedia, but

 

Quote

Facing financial difficulties, Epyx sought partners. Nintendo, Sega, and other companies declined, but Atari and Epyx eventually agreed that Atari would handle production and marketing, and Epyx would handle software development. Epyx declared bankruptcy by the end of the year, and Atari essentially owned the entire project; both Atari and others, however, had to purchase Amigas from Atari arch-rival Commodore to develop Lynx software

Most people who were around at the time seem to agree that Atari was seen as the last, desperate chance: Atari Corp. had developed a dismal reputation and Epyx thought that Atari would drive the Lynx into the ground. And they did. But plot twist: Atari drove Epyx into the ground, too!

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If epyx had been able to develop a system that was a bit more cheaper and not as much as an energy hog. I wonder if that would been enough for somebody like Sega or even Bandai to pick up an interest in the Handy?

 

edit: I recall that when Epyx brought the Handy to Nintendo’s attention, one of the complaints that Yamauchi made was the the fact that the battery life issue alone would have made it cost prohibitive to Japanese consumers that didn’t want to continuously shell out for batteries that didn’t last them even a day.

Edited by empsolo
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6 minutes ago, empsolo said:

If epyx had been able to develop a system that was a bit more cheaper and not as much as an energy hog. I wonder if that would been enough for somebody like Sega or even Bandai to pick up an interest in the Handy?

 

edit: I recall that when Epyx brought the Handy to Nintendo’s attention, one of the complaints that Yamauchi made was the the fact that the battery life issue alone would have made it cost prohibitive to Japanese consumers that didn’t want to continuously shell out for batteries that didn’t last them even a day.

If Epyx had backing by a major company they could have still had nearly the same device but maybe smaller, better battery, and more support.

 

The fact they didn't shop around earlier is the puzzling thing. They waited too late. Arguably.

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It's worth remembering that Nintendo's paradigm at the time was single game handhelds where you only had to change the batteries every few months. A GameBoy that you could run flat inside a week with heavy use was pushing it. Something that eats a pack of Duracells every day is right out.

 

In terms of how well the Lynx might have fared with bigger backing, I guess you've only got to look at the GameGear. That did all right for a while and sold around ten million of them but, at the end of the day, they were still limited by the battery technology in much the same way that Atari/Epyx were.

 

It's kinda funny how much better the Lynx is now that you can get rechargeables that'll last a few hours though. Mind you, the screen is still a bit crap.

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21 minutes ago, Matt_B said:

It's worth remembering that Nintendo's paradigm at the time was single game handhelds where you only had to change the batteries every few months. A GameBoy that you could run flat inside a week with heavy use was pushing it. Something that eats a pack of Duracells every day is right out.

 

In terms of how well the Lynx might have fared with bigger backing, I guess you've only got to look at the GameGear. That did all right for a while and sold around ten million of them but, at the end of the day, they were still limited by the battery technology in much the same way that Atari/Epyx were.

 

It's kinda funny how much better the Lynx is now that you can get rechargeables that'll last a few hours though. Mind you, the screen is still a bit crap.

Sega really gave mixed push to the GG and ended up with lukewarm software sales and not making money as they thought. By the time Nomad was out it was a dead system selling here and there.

 

10 million on paper sounds better but Sega could have done better.

 

In handys case, epyx shopped around the device late. If they shopped it earlier a big funder could have backed development, potentially resulting in a smaller form factor, extended battery, and more third party support deals arranged.

 

That's were I think epyx messed up most, waiting too long to get a backer.

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8 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

You're dodging the shelf space strong arming which was a bigger issue than the threats.

 

"Strong arming" -- do you mean that:

  • WoW/Nintendo refused to ship NES without Ruxpin (or the other way around), OR
  • Nintendo refused to ship NES units unless stored agreed to NOT stock rival systems

The first thing did happen, as far as I know.  The second didn't, as far as I know.

 

If it's not one of these two, what exactly do you mean by "strong arming" -- demanding shelf space?

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8 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Not that we should uncritically accept Wikipedia, but

 

Most people who were around at the time seem to agree that Atari was seen as the last, desperate chance: Atari Corp. had developed a dismal reputation and Epyx thought that Atari would drive the Lynx into the ground. And they did. But plot twist: Atari drove Epyx into the ground, too!

That I think was the quote i saw. 

 

It's all very vague when stating other companies and i often wondered if they approached NEC, Bandai? 

 

Even likes of Cheetah 

 

 

As for Epyx, whilst Atari were the final death blow, i have seen various Epyx sources say the company brought itself into serious financial trouble long before Atari got involved after making numerous bad decisions, resulting in failed projects and unsold software. 

 

That's a discussion for elsewhere, but it doesn't seem as black and white as history now would have it. 

Edited by Lostdragon
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6 hours ago, Matt_B said:

It's kinda funny how much better the Lynx is now that you can get rechargeables that'll last a few hours though. Mind you, the screen is still a bit crap.

I still find it funny that the Lynx had a lower resolution and larger pixels than the Game Boy... yes, it was in color, but the image "quality"/definition looked lower.

(Which reminds me of the 7800 -- technically capable of greater graphical abilities than the NES, but almost every game on it uses a lower resolution and looks... "blocky"...)

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8 minutes ago, DavidD said:

I still find it funny that the Lynx had a lower resolution and larger pixels than the Game Boy... yes, it was in color, but the image "quality"/definition looked lower.

(Which reminds me of the 7800 -- technically capable of greater graphical abilities than the NES, but almost every game on it uses a lower resolution and looks... "blocky"...)

Lowest resolution of the big three at the time. 

 

I always remember Game Gear screenshots in magazines looking washed out, due to the machines low quality screen and Lynx games looking very blocky, explosions in particular. 

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9 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Not that we should uncritically accept Wikipedia, but

 

Most people who were around at the time seem to agree that Atari was seen as the last, desperate chance: Atari Corp. had developed a dismal reputation and Epyx thought that Atari would drive the Lynx into the ground. And they did. But plot twist: Atari drove Epyx into the ground, too!

Can't even find Epyx sources themselves even talking about who else they approached, but these quotes do help explain the Atari/Epyx situation better... 

 

 

"Epyx designed the Lynx. Some people from the Amiga design team worked
on the Lynx development. Epyx was in serious financial trouble (not
because of Lynx development), and desperately needed a partner to
bring the Lynx to market. After negotiations with other companies
fell through, Epyx finally agreed to talk to Atari and eventually
sold the Lynx to Atari.

Atari did stop paying Epyx for a long time, and even tried to sue Epyx
for breach of contract after stopping payment. The lawsuit has been
settled by the way, and Atari will have to pay Epyx what it owes them,
and Epyx' connection to the Lynx will be finally severed."

 

 Many people that I know that have worked for Atari have disliked it
immensely, but a couple people that I know did OK by them. The main
rule for dealing with Atari is to always have one more thing that they
need from you so you can withhold it until they pay you for everything
else you have done for them. If you don't mind operating at that level,
go for it."

 

Stephen H. Landrum 

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5 hours ago, DavidD said:

"Strong arming" -- do you mean that:

  • WoW/Nintendo refused to ship NES without Ruxpin (or the other way around), OR
  • Nintendo refused to ship NES units unless stored agreed to NOT stock rival systems

The first thing did happen, as far as I know.  The second didn't, as far as I know.

 

If it's not one of these two, what exactly do you mean by "strong arming" -- demanding shelf space?

Uh...

 

Literally monopolising the shelves so the competition had no space to put their stock?

 

 

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12 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

potentially resulting in a smaller form factor

 

That's were I think epyx messed up most, waiting too long to get a backer.

It's difficult to separate myth and urban legend from fact at this point, but the traditional narrative of the Handy development was that the larger unit size was a deliberate choice after testing the hardware in focus groups. The modern spin now seems to be that the Lynx was a commercial disappointment because customers didn't want a large handheld unit. I'm not sure that either of those perspectives are entirely correct: I can't say that I was bothered by the size of the Lynx when I had one as a teen, and no one was stuffing their Gameboys in their pockets, anyway. We all had backpacks at that point.

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13 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

It's difficult to separate myth and urban legend from fact at this point, but the traditional narrative of the Handy development was that the larger unit size was a deliberate choice after testing the hardware in focus groups. The modern spin now seems to be that the Lynx was a commercial disappointment because customers didn't want a large handheld unit. I'm not sure that either of those perspectives are entirely correct: I can't say that I was bothered by the size of the Lynx when I had one as a teen, and no one was stuffing their Gameboys in their pockets, anyway. We all had backpacks at that point.

More compact would have been more durable and potentially could lessen resources in other areas and possibly make production less costly.

 

I wasn't really talking about portability. Although by the time the pocketable Gameboy pocket came out in 96 announced in 95, that would be an issue for Atari and Sega. Especially since some select retailers sold it at $50-$60.

 

Speaking of, did Sega ever revise the GG like Nintendo or Atari? I remember them selling the same model with the same problems the whole time, at least in US. Some with speakers already having issues out the box later, likely recirculated old stock.

 

 

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I remember different colors of Game Gear, but they all had the same size and general spec, even if internal parts were changed. 
 

Lynx is lacking in games with progression and endings, the kind of thing that makes a game “sticky,” to make you want to carry it with you and keep plying. 
 

It’s fun to play “what if,” but I think it’s more fun to ask “why?”

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49 minutes ago, Flojomojo said:

Lynx is lacking in games with progression and endings, the kind of thing that makes a game “sticky,” to make you want to carry it with you and keep plying. 

 

 

Outside of some arcade hits from Atari Games (and Epyx) there were a good amount of games that werent endless arcade titles on Lynx.

 

Ninja Garden 1 & 3, Electrocop, Chips Challenge, Bill and Ted, Batman Returns, Dirty Larry, Dracula, Pit Fighter, Double Dragon, Toki, Todd Slime World, and Scrap yard dog are just some examples. That's already a major chunk of the Lynx's library.

 

49 minutes ago, Flojomojo said:

I remember different colors of Game Gear, but they all had the same size and general spec, even if internal parts were changed. 

IMG_2237.jpg

 

Indeed, seems there were other colors. Though they seem to be the same model so I guess there wasn't really a Lynx II or GB pocket style revision.

 

I wonder how common those other colors were, I only ever saw standard in various shops even across several states. 

 

Looking at them now, I'm not much of a fan and would have likely still brought the standard black unit. Except for the white one, that looks nice. Apparently that one was a limited edition sku though:

 

img_0305.jpg

 

$300-$400 or more on eBay. It looks nice but not that nice. Granted, you do get a case with it.

Edited by Leeroy ST
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I'd never really looked into Nolan Bushnell, until this thread. 

 

By his own admission, he doesn't stay long with projects, companies then (make the most of him whilst you can at Athena Games Jane Whittaker 😂

 

 

So, some 22? Companies since Atari? 

 

 

Range of products including Smart Speaker /A. I narrative board games mobile phone games, computerized maps. V. R (twice), Esports, Binoculars, Robotics (twice), multimedia, educational software, etc etc.. 

 

 

Couldn't find much from him regarding the Amiga CDTV.. 

 

Did find Andrew Ball, CBM P. R saying the CDTV was a product that the public needed to perceive as something as simple as a next generation CD Player.. 

 

It's key to success lay in it's software as every user would have their own niche. 

 

CBM were confident that in the first 12 months, demand would outstrip supply, even with the difficulty convincing consumers it wasn't an accessory for a child's bedroom, but something for the whole family. 

 

CDTV was to be seen as the first affordable multimedia platform. 

 

 

Things didn't go well, Hutchinson's Encyclopedia and Lemmings not ready for launch

 

Commodore were busy telling people Kodak's new Photo CD system worked on the CDTV, Kodak said the standard was yet to be finalized and CBM had made the announcement in a knee jerk reaction to news Phillips had signed Mario to the CD-i. 

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3 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

More compact would have been more durable and potentially could lessen resources in other areas and possibly make production less costly.

 

I wasn't really talking about portability. Although by the time the pocketable Gameboy pocket came out in 96 announced in 95, that would be an issue for Atari and Sega. Especially since some select retailers sold it at $50-$60.

 

 

Yes, of course. But Atari essentially gave up on the Lynx (and the A8,7800, and ST) in 1992 so it could devote what diminishing resources it retained to the development of the Jaguar. Lynx v. 2 really was just a way to reduce manufacturing costs -- and that's a perfectly reasonable reason for a (largely cosmetic) redesign -- but shrinking the footprint would have meant a redesign of the motherboard, and that was clearly Not in the Budget. 

 

That being said, I don't think that there was anything that any company could have done to challenge the GameBoy's supremacy in North America in the '90s. I have two thirty-ish coworkers, both of whom call themselves "gamers", who have never heard of the Lynx. When I brought up colour handheld gaming in the '90s, the consversation ended with "but the Gameboy could do x". Nintendo still has a stranglehold on many peoples' collective memories.

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2 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Yes, of course. But Atari essentially gave up on the Lynx (and the A8,7800, and ST) in 1992 

Hmm? There was still a decent marketing campaign and game releases till entering 95 for Lynx.

 

However, I was and still am baffled they killed all the other product lines and even more baffled they didn't replace them, destroying anything that could have been a safety net. That was one of the most nutty moves Ive seen a company make. ST/Falcon/XE/XEGS/2600jr/7800 all thrown in the trash with no second.

 

2 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

That being said, I don't think that there was anything that any company could have done to challenge the GameBoy's supremacy in North America in the '90s. 

If Atari actually gave full backing to the Lynx and secondary backing to the Jag, and dropped the backlit low res screen, it would have had a chance. The GB proved you didn't need it, even the GB light which was a japan exclusive back lit GB flopped quickly, instead more people brought reg and pocket GBs.

 

Without that Atari would have a nice color handheld, more compact, and would be able to complete on price and not have to worry about the display forcing them to raise the price temporarily.

 

The GG was a worse Lynx with arguably a bit more battery life still far from the GB, but worst in almost every other way. But Sega actually backing it got it to 10 million units and devs attention. Granted, it ended up being a waste of money but so did nearly all Sega projects in the 90's not Genesis.

 

Sadly, Atari thought the Jaguar was the future. Or made themselves think that. So despite the Lynx having the best sales and biggest console official library of any Atari console released since 1977, Atari didn't really care and eventually started pulling back support.

 

I mean still plenty sold, glad we still got the Lynx, but it could have been better.

 

 

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