Is there really a light at the end of the journey...?


Grench

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Mind you, even in the US you'd plumped for an Apple II or a Vic-20 or C64 or something, you probably didn't notice the paucity of console software that much.
Vic20...
I had a 16K memory cartridge and a tape drive. Tried to create my own basic adventure game - then ran out of memory. There wasn't enough RAM on the box to hold the potential character inventory.

Eventually the transformer in the back right of the unit melted down a bit and separated ever so slightly from the main board. I found that a 10 pound lead window weight perched on the back right corner of the Vic20 console would force contact and keep it alive. It probably acted as a pretty effective heat sink too.

Good times.
 

CFWhitman

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Which videogames crash? I don't recall a videogames crash, and I played new releases (out of hundreds per year) for the whole of the 80s. Was it a US-centric thing?
The video games crash was when the sale of cartridge video games plummeted toward the end of 1983, and both Atari's and ColecoVision's success ended in the home video game market. Nobody really picked up the slack until the Nintendo Entertainment System started to become really successful, which didn't really happen in North America until 1986.

Atari's crash was basically a result of Warner (the company that owned Atari by then) getting the impression that producing video games was equivalent to a license to print money, with no regard for what they were actually selling. They didn't keep their most successful developers happy, and the developers left to form Activision. They started shoveling poor games to the public, who predictably (to someone who actually played games) didn't buy them. They released a new generation of console (the Atari 5200), but they didn't support it with a good game library. Also, the 5200 controller's directional control was too sophisticated and the controllers tended to break down and not be liked by their audience. Atari also weren't ready to compete with ColecoVision or even Activision in the game cartridge market.

At the time of the crash, the conventional wisdom was that video games were a fad that was waning and being replaced by the home computer. This lead Coleco (rather than working on trying to develop better games) turning their attention to the home computer market, and the Adam computer. They didn't handle the Adam's manufacture and launch all that well, and quality control issues lead to it developing a reputation for unreliability. It turned out to not survive the home computer market shake out (which first lead to only PC compatibles, Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, and Atari ST computers surviving, and a little later to only PC compatibles and Apple Macintosh computers being left).

When the Nintendo Entertainment System hit the market with innovative and complex (at the time) games like Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda, it was just what the gaming public had been waiting for, and it turned out that video games weren't just a fad after all.

Of course computer games picked up the slack to some extent in the meantime.

Edit: Incidentally, I knew a lot of people who worked for Coleco until their bankruptcy in 1988 (my grandmother, father, uncle, mother, and sister all worked for Coleco at one time or another). Their three biggest factories happened to be located in or near relatively small towns in the area where I lived (and still do). Their largest factory became a Hasbro factory before later being shutdown altogether.
 
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levi

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What surprises me about early Atari stuff is that the 400 and 800 had pretty good software libraries, with some fairly complex gameplay for a 1979 machine, but the 5200 that they were based on had very few basic looking games. In the UK by about 1983 we had a lot of home computers that grew up natively; the Amstrad 464, the Sinclair Spectrum, the BBC Micro from Acorn, the Dragon 32, the Oric-1 from Tangerine. We probably had imports of the Coco and the TI 99/4A but I don't know anyone who had one. And I know the BBC Micro and the Spectrum were exported to the US, the former only relatively late, and the latter as a Timex brand, but I don't think they fared very well against the C64.
 

klapse

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Remember how sexy the TI 99/4A looked? Compared to everything else at the time...
 

ZXDunny

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Yeah, I got my first Spectrum (my own machine as opposed to my dad's) in 1982 when they first dropped. 16Kb of RAM and a surprising number of games available at or close to launch (with BASIC to tide you over). Went up to the 48k the following year when the price dropped. The 80s was huge in terms of gaming - Ultimate (now RARE) got their start on the Speccy back then and some of the stuff they managed to do in 16k of RAM was incredible. Hundreds of games - of varying quality, admittedly - released every year, always something new to try.

I keep hearing about this videogames crash and as you say it must be limited to the US because it really didn't register as anything over this side of the pond - I knew a few people with 2600s, but pretty much everyone had a C64, Spectrum or in the case of the rich kids with clueless parents, Amstrad 464s and BBCs.
 

carlberry

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I knew a few people with 2600s, but pretty much everyone had a C64, Spectrum or in the case of the rich kids with clueless parents, Amstrad 464s and BBCs.
Harsh, BBCs were in every school at the time so there was a valid reason for parents buying them for their kids, not sure what the Amstrad argument was ;). Of course if you couldn't afford a BBC (like my parents couldn't) then you ended up with an Acorn Electron, which I still have, also doesn't have the tendency to set on fire like BBCs do these days (I've had two do it on me now).
 

Kippykip

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The video games crash was when the sale of cartridge video games plummeted toward the end of 1983, and both Atari's and ColecoVision's success ended in the home video game market. Nobody really picked up the slack until the Nintendo Entertainment System started to become really successful, which didn't really happen in North America until 1986.
One thing I always point out is the video game crash of 1983 was only in North America, video games were still immensely popular everywhere else in the world especially for microcomputers.
I actually kind of feel Nintendo monopolised the US market a bit as their games were crazy expensive for what they were but oh well hahaha.
 

hns

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Bosbeetle

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CFWhitman

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I keep hearing about this videogames crash and as you say it must be limited to the US because it really didn't register as anything over this side of the pond - I knew a few people with 2600s, but pretty much everyone had a C64, Spectrum or in the case of the rich kids with clueless parents, Amstrad 464s and BBCs.
One thing I always point out is the video game crash of 1983 was only in North America, video games were still immensely popular everywhere else in the world especially for microcomputers.
I actually kind of feel Nintendo monopolised the US market a bit as their games were crazy expensive for what they were but oh well hahaha.
Remember that the computer game market was considered separately. It didn't crash in the US any more than it did in Europe. It was only the console game (cartridge) market that crashed. In fact, the rise in popularity of computer games was blamed for the console game market crashing (though that turned out not to be accurate). So, it kind of sounds like the video game market in Europe couldn't crash because it didn't really amount to much until the revival after the crash. Apparently the early cartridge systems were popular enough in Japan for it to at least register there (more so than in Europe).
 
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