RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Oct 9th 2008 at 06:57:25 AM by (Nik the Russian)
Posted under History, Atari, E.T., Video Game Crash, 3DO, Sega Game Gear, Grand Theft Auto

September / October, 1982 (26 years ago): E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is released for Atari 2600 (Sources are unclear on exact release date).

October, November, December 1983 (25 years ago): North American Video Game Crash of 1983 begins due to the market flood of poorly made software.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial is one of the most famous games ever made, mostly because it is also one of the most poorly made and over-produced games. The reason for the rushed development and overproduction is clear: the movie of the same name was an instant hit, and became the most financially successful film at the time of its release (yes, surpassing Star Wars). It only made sense to think that a game based on such a hit movie would become a bestseller, so Atari reduced development time to only six weeks, skipping audience testing in the process.

Certainly, E.T. was not the only reason for the subsequent Video Game Market Crash; there were other low-quality games made around that time (the terrible "flickering ghosts" port of PacMan comes to mind). Imagine how confused parents must have been, deciding on which console to buy: Atari 2600, Atari 5600, ColecoVision, Intellivision, Astrocade, Odyssey 2, Fairchild Channel F, to name a few, and that is not including Sears clones or other, more obscure consoles. Other contributing factors for the crash were an abundance of start-up companies trying to make some cash and hoping that customers would buy any video game regardless of how bad it was, as well as the availability of cheaper and usually more versatile computers, such as TI-99 and Commodore VIC-20.

Most important effects of the crash were:
- End to 2nd generation of video game consoles;
- Slowdown of the video game hardware development;
- Many third-party game development companies shutting down, including Coleco and Magnavox;
- Activision taking years to recover;
- Atari never recovering from the blow and eventually leaving video game hardware business;
- Almost complete lack of retailers' and customers' interest in Video Games for several years afterwards;
- Resurrection of video games industry by Nintendo and its NES (note that it is called an "entertainment system", not a "console");
- Beginning of Japanese video game domination, primarily by Nintendo and Sega;
- Introduction of strict rules regarding licensing third-party made games.

In my own opinion, the E.T. game is terrible. Should a person unfamiliar with the movie play this game, he/she might think that the movie consists of E.T. walking around places with many, many deep holes in the ground, constantly falling into them, slowly "levitating" out of them, just to fall back in, and again, and again. If you are one of the fortunate ones who never played this, ask your Atari-loving friend (I am sure he has this game somewhere) to let you play, just for educational purposes.

Other events for this month include:

Continue reading This Month in VG History: E.T. and the Market Crash

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