The Post-Atari U.S. Home Console Market
Guest editor, Jeremiah Conlon takes a look at our U.S. console forefathers and examines how history has repeated itself.
Article by Jeremiah Conlon (Email)
October 16th 2005, 09:36PM
The great US video game crash began its downward spiral in 1982, resulting from Atari's poorly designed games and questionable business acumen. After the dust settled, it seemed that no one was interested in video games. Consumers were fed up with boring games, retailers were timid to assume the inventory burden of a shunned industry, and game developers wondered if they would have a viable industry to work in again. Of course, the game industry rebounded and is currently a huge success, finally getting respect as a reputable business.
Post-Atari: Nintendo Picks Up the Pieces of the U.S. Home Console Market
An important reason Nintendo succeeded with their entrance into the US video game market with Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was original and creative game design. Sure enough, cool game design seems pretty obvious to most. At the same time, it's not that people didn't embrace video games during the Atari industry crash in the early 1980's. The crap hit the fan because of, well, crappy games.
Nintendo of America even met with Atari to figure out the major problems that caused Atari's game industry Armageddon. What Nintendo found was that many of the older generation home console games were boring and poorly designed; they utilized new technology but weren't so fun. So, the best way to combat the ills of poor game design is to employ the most talented people on your development team. Fortunately for Nintendo, they had in Shigeru Miyamoto arguably one of the most creative and ingenious game creators of all time.
Nintendo's fearless leader, Hiroshi Yamauchi, was a faithful gamer who firmly believed that great hardware would not sell itself. His vision saw hardware engineers creating a platform that would support cool games, with creative designers who developed them. As Yamauchi's right hand man, Miyamoto was the leader of Nintendo's creative army.
Miyamoto's task seemed simple: to create the coolest, most imaginative games ever known to exist. Miyamoto started strong by creating Super Mario Brothers, which was based on his hugely popular coin-op video game Donkey Kong. Nintendo followed up Super Mario Brothers with a string of multi-million dollar hits. Combined with the launch of a more powerful system, Miyamoto's unique games provided the catalyst for a new home console industry in the US.