Jump to content
roadrunner

The Rise And Fall Of Atari

Recommended Posts

5 hours ago, zzip said:

That was true for a few months,  but then the 600XL came out and was around half the price of a 5200.  That's the route my family took and seeing how the 5200 turned out, I'm glad we did.

 

Backwards compatibility doesn't make or break consoles,  games do.    The 5200's issue was the vast majority of its software library consisted of games on the 2600.  There weren't enough great 5200-only titles to make users feel like they needed to upgrade.   And instead of fixing that situation, Atari decided to kill the 5200 after less than two years and release the 7800.   This only alienated Atari loyalists who sunk a decent amount of money into the 5200.

I know this should be more in the 5200 section, but I couldn't figure out why would Warner's Atari release an expensive game system that's based on the 400 computer but incompatible...only to release the XL series of computers that can (mostly) run 400/800 carts one year later.  A 600XL with a trackball controller (w/ more cart games that support) would have been so much better to have out plus having a plug-in memory upgrade to compete against Commodore's computers later on

 

But we all should know that the 5200 was design by some marketing department who just wanted something to compete against the Intellivision with it's funky keypad controller.  And they probably saw home computers as being different products than home video games, inspite of Commodore computers also doubling as game machines...

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, MrMaddog said:

I know this should be more in the 5200 section, but I couldn't figure out why would Warner's Atari release an expensive game system that's based on the 400 computer but incompatible...only to release the XL series of computers that can (mostly) run 400/800 carts one year later.  A 600XL with a trackball controller (w/ more cart games that support) would have been so much better to have out plus having a plug-in memory upgrade to compete against Commodore's computers later on

My theory is it may have had something to do with how game licensing was done at the time.   For instance Coleco had console rights for the Donkey Kong games, and Atari had computer rights.    Atari execs got extremely angry when they saw Donkey Kong running on an Adam and broke of their NES deals with Nintendo over it.   If the 5200 was cartridge compatible with the 400/800 line then 5200 could play the Atari DK and would be in the same breach.

 

Also the different controls were incompatible, so that was another reason to make the carts incompatible.   Cartridge space was hovering around 16K then-  so you didn't really have the luxury of supporting different control schemes, every byte still mattered.

 

1 hour ago, MrMaddog said:

But we all should know that the 5200 was design by some marketing department who just wanted something to compete against the Intellivision with it's funky keypad controller.  And they probably saw home computers as being different products than home video games, inspite of Commodore computers also doubling as game machines...

Yeah they were treated differently by marketing and often not sold in the same stores.   Even though the 400 was supposed to be the 2600 successor

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, and admittedly, as much as the 7800 ain't half bad, ditching the 5200 for the 7800 wasn't the big-brained idea to save the brand. As much as the 7800 is technologically unique, and has some benefits, those benefits just didn't translate to consumer playability and staying power, and I don't think they ever would have. (And I *like* the 7800 so I'm not just bashing to bash...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ditching the 5200 for the 7800 might have worked a bit better if they'd managed to get the latter out on time. As it was, leaving a near two year gap between the two didn't exactly play to Atari's advantage.

 

In the long run it's still probably going to fail, such was the fate of anything with only Tramiel Atari's limited resources behind it, but it might have lasted a little longer.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Matt_B said:

Ditching the 5200 for the 7800 might have worked a bit better if they'd managed to get the latter out on time. As it was, leaving a near two year gap between the two didn't exactly play to Atari's advantage.

It still would have had crappy sound and Atari Warner killed off 5200 in 84 anticipating that the 7800 would launch late 84.

 

The only way I could see it working without alienating the userbase would be to release it as a new improved model in the 2600 line, not a "next gen" system replacing the infant 5200.    5200 would be kept alive for a few more years, receiving ports from the 8bit line.  (more advanced games)

 

It is still too many consoles on the market and it would be a problem when people notice that the "enhanced" 2600 could produce better graphics than 5200.

 

I think the best option still would be to continue to refine the 7800 tech and release a much better system a few years down the road.   A 7800 based on say 1986 tech rather than 1984 tech should blow away NES which was based on 1983 tech

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/2/2022 at 5:36 PM, SegaSnatcher said:

If they focused more on the quality of games and released the 5200 earlier with a better controller with must own games at launch they might have avoided the crash.

I thought the quality of games were no greater or less than what the industry was pumping out at the time. That they were the identical to the 8-bit rigs, that was my beef. And of course those skank-ass controllers. After my 2nd set went bad I said no more.

 

IMHO after the 8-bit systems became popular, there was no need for the 5200 or even the 7800.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, zzip said:

A 7800 based on say 1986 tech rather than 1984 tech should blow away NES which was based on 1983 tech

Always believed the NES had/has a different design philosophy than the 7800 (and other Atari cartridge consoles). One that was more versatile and powerful. And would fit the evolving market so much better. Besides, cutesy games and bitmapped RPG were becoming popular. NES excelled there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Always believed the NES had/has a different design philosophy than the 7800 (and other Atari cartridge consoles). One that was more versatile and powerful. And would fit the evolving market so much better. Besides, cutesy games and bitmapped RPG were becoming popular. NES excelled there.

I don't think it was so much that NES was more adaptable to trends.   Instead it drove those trends because it was so popular.    There was a glut of side-scrolling platformers in the late 80s because NES was so good at them and soon they started popping up in arcades and other platforms.

 

NES was also a rather weak system that was greatly extended via extra hardware in carts.   Any system that could do that could have adopted in a similar fashion.  We saw that a bit with the 2600 as well.

 

But the 7800 as intended for release in 1984 was designed to push a lot of multicolored sprites,  that was a big thing at a time when systems had 4 or 8 sprites available with limited color options.  But 7800 was weak in other areas.   Like I said, Atari/GCC should have refined the tech further and released a better console based on it a few years later.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd think that the 7800 would have been very competitive for late 1984. Even the sound wasn't that bad when most games at the time only had a few jingles and spot effects and, for anything that needed something more sophisticated for continuous music, speech, samples, etc. they'd provided for in-cartridge chips. Hopefully, by 1986 they'd be making a revision with something a bit better built-in though.

 

Extending the life of the 5200 would certainly have been another option. A smaller cheaper model with a better controller could potentially do good business and could have piggybacked the work that went into the 800XL. Ports of A8 software could have kept it supplied with competitive games to the end of 1985 easily. They more or less did this with the XEGS even, just about three years too late for anyone to care much.


I suppose we can't ignore the fact that Atari were melting down at the time, with axing the 5200 and delaying the 7800 being the work of entirely different CEOs. Doing either of those things was necessary to avoid having the two machines compete over the same market. The mistake was that the ended up doing both.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Matt_B said:

I'd think that the 7800 would have been very competitive for late 1984.

Well yeah, because Mattel had left the market by then and Coleco was getting ready to.   Atari would have had the console market to themselves.   Which is a shame they did virtually nothing in the console space between 84 and 86 and allowed Nintendo to come in and dominate.

 

But this was also the era when retailers were very skittish about stocking game consoles, and it may have been tough to get 7800 in stores.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/3/2022 at 2:38 PM, MrMaddog said:

A 600XL with a trackball controller (w/ more cart games that support) would have been so much better to have out plus having a plug-in memory upgrade to compete against Commodore's computers later on

 

Also think about what adding a disk drive to that 600XL got you.  At my school, you could have 30 commercial games on $10 bucks worth of disks within a week, and there were always a few kids with modems that kept a fresh supply coming in (sounds like a drug cartel :lol:).

If your school had Atari computers, it made it even easier yet as you could do your copying right there.  After 6 months you have piles of floppies and you're erasing games that you beat or didn't like to make space for new games.

 

30 games alone on a 5200 could set you back $1,000.

 

I know the warez thing brings tears to the eyes of a few, but that was the hardcore reality back then.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Turbo-Torch said:

Also think about what adding a disk drive to that 600XL got you. 

You would need a memory upgrade too to effectively use a disk drive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/3/2022 at 7:09 AM, zzip said:

Backwards compatibility doesn't make or break consoles,  games do.    The 5200's issue was the vast majority of its software library consisted of games on the 2600.  There weren't enough great 5200-only titles to make users feel like they needed to upgrade.   And instead of fixing that situation, Atari decided to kill the 5200 after less than two years and release the 7800.   This only alienated Atari loyalists who sunk a decent amount of money into the 5200.

Oh 100% they needed to do a better job getting must play games on 5200 among other things.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...