Readers, like myself, have passed thirty years of age’ can not help but remember the great crisis of the games industry 1983, crisis, which caused’ the closure of many software companies and hardware manufacturers, but did revive some two years after a gaming market even more’ trained and no longer dominated’ by genes but by American giants Sega and Nintendo of Japan.
But what was true cause of a crisis of this magnitude?
We say that the reasons were many but one in particular was the cause of everything: a video game…your name and’ E.T. The alien Atari 2600!
As we know in Atari 1977 put on the market the’Atari VCS (ovvero Video Computer System), the console 8 bits that will prove’ the most’ longevity of the story coming out of production in 1991, well after 14 years of success, and passing unscathed fra Nintendo NES and Sega Master System. The console boasted a catalog of video games but really the dawn of endless 1983 ATARI managed’ also find themselves inexorably into a huge financial crisis…For this reason, when in 1982, doors’ the film E.T. The alien Steven Spielberg and worldwide outbreak’ a real “E.T. Mania”, the company ', groped for to revive its fortunes, decided to make a video game console for his dedicated precisely to the film in question. In my humble opinion, the first misstep by Atari was asking Steven Spielberg to create the video game rights by paying the amount of neutral 25 million dollars!!! Once obtained the consent (and I would like to see) Atari custody’ to Howard Scott Warshaw (that had already’ made from the video game “Raiders of the Lost” Spielberg always) the programming of the game! First, the product must necessarily be published for Christmas and then had only Warshaw 5 weeks to create from scratch the game in second place instead of making a game similar to Pac Man programmer decided to make the game design very similar to the film to recreate the most’ the atmosphere can be breathed in sentimental film.
Of course the little time available did not allow Howard to put into practice their ideas in fact after two intense days in game design to create the present’ l'idea Raymond Kassar, CEO of Atari, who gave the green light to continue in the realization that the end product, in terms of style of play, remembered very closely just Pac-Man!
Below I report the plot of the game taken from Wikipedia:
“The player controls the alien E.T. which must pass through several screens to obtain the three pieces needed to create a phone that allows ET to “Calling home”. The pieces of the phone can be found in the large holes or collecting nine Reese's Pieces (U.S. candy) and then call Elliot, that will bring a piece of telephone. The player also has to avoid an FBI agent and a scientist who seek Him. If the scientist capture E.T. the player is brought to the screen in Washington DC, but a skilled player can get away before the scientist bring it to the next screen. If the FBI agent touches E.T. a piece of the phone will be confiscated and will be back in a hole in the case (is E.T. has no piece of the phone will be confiscated all the Reese's Pieces, and if it has nothing with him the agent did not confiscate anything). E.T. begins the game with 9999 energy points. Each share, including the movement, decreases the energy points.
E.T. may use the Reese's Pieces in an area “eat the candy” and press a button to recover energy. If he loses all the points of energy turns white and dies. Three times in the game may appear and resurrect Elliot ET, allowing the player to continue playing with 1500 points. He earns another resurrection if you find a wilted flower. Four of the six existing screens contain large holes; E.T. lose energy if we fall in., to exit and must use the special action of levitation. However, since the holes you can find spare phone and wilted flowers, often falls into the player we intentionally.
When E.T. can collect all three pieces of phone the player can press a button in an area where you can call the spaceship. At this point part of a countdown, within which we must reach the point of landing in the forest. Here you can call the spaceship, and if there are humans nearby, and the ship will appear to board ET. At this point it passes to the next level, that is functionally identical and does not increase even in difficulty. The difficulty can only be changed manually and globally.”
Here you can see the video of the game:
E.T. was a complete flop so that the 40% some of the players who bought the game asked for Atari (and obtained) a refund of the price paid….Legend has it that were actually produced more cartridges than the installed base of consoles and that about 4.000.000 copies of them remained unsold! Atari had of course withdraw the product from sale and dispose of in some way…The same legend says that in fact, One night in 1983, a convoy of 14 trucks through’ directed to the Nevada desert Almogordo in New Mexico where, in a site-secret, were buried in sarcophagi of concrete unsold copies of ET, some of Pac-Man and dozens of prototypes of the console.
The costs incurred by Atari crazy to advertise the product and refund to the players just mentioned did precipitate the company financially’ who lost more’ of in 1983 eventually be sold and divided in the following year!
Of course this was not the sole cause of the crisis in the games industry, in fact 1983 There were a series of coincidences that led the market decline….
Another big problem in those days was that the hardware manufacturers, including the course ATARI, for legal reasons, although they had no’ Minimum quality control’ the games that were developed for their machines…was not rare to see being born small software house that, without having the necessary skills, realizzavano games enter the market! At one point, the shops were literally flooded with bad products that were sold in the midst of (few) worthy products; unaware and inexperienced users purchased most of the time, shoddy products and over time had no more’ want to throw away money to purchase securities unplayable…Consequently, even the shopkeepers lost confidence in the sector and stopped any kind of promotion or sale of the products causing the wheel to the failure of the few capable software house and the withdrawal of more than’ large, come Mattel the Coleco, thereby bringing the market to the famous crisis of the games industry 1983!
Also in 1983 Atari had been around for six years and for this reason it was necessary to develop machines that would bring a real innovation in the field! This was partly: In fact, while the market was flooded with machines that aimed to outperform and Atari’ Admittedly, the reality’ of these machines were made only slightly more’ powerful, if not identical, in terms of benefits to 2600 and hence unable to revolutionize the market as would be expected! Basically the machines were already’ old at the time of launch and businesses unable to introduce new and innovative console!
Brand new’ but’ were lurking, although not in the field console….in fact, precisely in the period 1982-83-84 (then in the midst of crisis) Home computers were first introduced by the German Commodore that, at a price affordable for all, offered with a simple programmable machine language already’ installed in the machine, the Basic, and allowed, to anyone who wanted to experiment with programming, to fulfill their dreams of video game or play those made by the software houses more’ famous! I still remember the slogan “Why Buy Just a Video Game?” with which Commodore advertise its products that, for this reason, stole a good chunk of the market to the console!
No one can’ never forget the first Vic-20 and, above all, the legendary Commodore 64 after…but this’ another story!
Instead, what interests us and’ how did the video game market to recover from a crisis of this magnitude or better, and thanks to those who’ taken……ricollegandomi thereof to beginning of article must thank the Japanese Nintendo if today we can still play games with products of the highest level! In fact, in 1985 the Nintendo, after the launch in Japan two years before with the name of Famicom, decided to enter the U.S. market its NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) but finding’ in front of consumers with extensive somewhat skeptical and suspicious about the product videogame (Atari seared by the experience). Nintendo dovette quindi mettere al lavoro i propri ingegneri per dotare la macchina di un meccanismo che impediva la lettura di giochi non autorizzati che non avessero superato i severissimi tests di controllo qualita’ Nintendo! This technique, still used today, warranty’ Nintendo games to the publication of valid avoiding mediocre products that about two years had ruined the American market, causing the already’ quoted crisis….
Obviously the big N was not the protagonist of those years it was flanked by Sega with its Master System, which soon, managed to conquer the European market, leaving Nintendo in the Japanese and American…but we'll talk about in another separate article!
The important and’ that the market has recovered and, analyzing the market for consoles and home computers of the time, I think he did it in the best way….someone said Amiga and Super Nintendo???