Posted tagged ‘Arcade History’

Blast from the past: When Arcades used to make more money than movies did

April 26, 2010

Remember the golden age of games when arcades alone used to make money hand over fist, making about three times more money in a year than movies did? Good times. Take a trip down memory lane (or in my case, discovery lane as this was written before I was born) in this old newspaper article from the Montreal Gazette, dated July 27th 1981. Some of the fascinating info you can glean from this: Pac-Man used to make $8.1 million a week (combining all locations; remember from that convention video in ’82 it was stated that it would typically earn $4000/week at a good location); Space Invaders used to make an estimated $7.7 million per week; Stern Electronics would produce 45,000 games in 1981, up from 1,179 games produced the year before; grocery stores began bringing in games as they made more money per square foot that food did.  Of course the industry didn’t see the bubble that was forming at the time, a bubble that would burst for various reasons at the end of the following year (harsh economic conditions, industry grew a little too fast, a proverbial flood of arcade ports to home consoles, a lot of consoles and PCs-as-consoles on the market, too many clones and sub-par bootlegs on the arcade market, etc.).

You can read the article here.

I also found an article from 1983 showcasing the release of Dragon’s Lair and how that had a temporary positive effect for arcades as players crowded around the machines. Dragon’s Lair was an expensive game compared to others at the time, selling for $4,000 a unit (which according to this would be about $8500 in 2009 dollars) but it still sold very well initially. You can read that article here.

SNK Opens a virtual NEOGEO museum

February 27, 2010

Via

If you were ever curious as to how the NeoGeo MVS ans AES hardware came to be and what impact they had on the video game industry, then SNK Playmore has a new site which details just that. You can read through an article that was published in Arcadia Magazine detailing the history of the hardware, browse through all of the title names (a setup like System16.com has would be more useful however), look at published ads and buy those NEOGEO T-Shirts we talked about not long ago. Imagine if they decided to do a special version of KOFXIII for the MVS, I am sure that would turn some heads. :)

[NEOGEO Museum] [Discuss on the forums]

Missing in Action: On the defense (tower defense and otherwise)

December 17, 2009

It has been a while since I last wrote a “Missing In Action” article, where I cover a style of game that at one point in history was popular or common to find in arcades, covering the history of said titles. If you haven’t read those here are the links: Space Combat games, Puzzle Games, Scrolling Fighters, Tanks, Planes, Mechs and more,and Adventure/RPG games.

Lately as I have been watching what people play on the computer network at my arcade, I have noticed a trend in people playing a genre of games known as Tower Defense. It’s interesting to see how these kinds of games have been increasing in popularity recently, not just with browser games (where I see most of these titles being played) but also in standard releases with games like Final Fantasy: Crystal Defenders, Plants Vs. Zombies,  or the South Park tower defense game which won an award at the SpikeTV VGAs. I have read that this idea as a genre has been inspired by a particular game mode in Warcraft 3, where hordes of enemies follow along a certain path and the player has to strategically place defense towers that will blast the hordes away as they follow a path to a particular objective. It’s a relatively simple idea, especially when it comes to RTS games and it’s one that has some roots in a few arcade titles (believe it or not).

It is true that in the arcade world we haven’t seen many games which follow a formula exactly like the one used in many TD titles I have seen (only Rampart would fit that bill and it would honestly be the first real tower defense game, prior to Warcraft 3) but there have been a number of popular coin-op titles which deal with defense concepts that could be seen as important influences in the popular tower defense genre today. I personally feel that tower defense games could be adapted into coin-op arcade gaming, given the right idea and I will get into that, after we take a look at some of the history behind the genre we are looking at, which you can jump into at the link below.

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Panel discussion with ex-Atari alumni at California Extreme 09

December 8, 2009

One thing I don’t think that I will ever tire of is getting into the history of the game industry, particularly that involving the arcade side of things. On one side I think it’s fascinating and on the other there are always some helpful ideas you can learn from what people have tried in the past. Obviously as times change not everything that worked “back in the good ol’ days” will work anymore but there are some things in human tastes that never change.

To get on with with the point, here is video of a panel discussion with several ex-employees of Atari back when it was a giant in the arcade industry, including Al Alcorn, Mike Hally, Owen Rubin, Steve Bristow and Steve Ritchie. Each one of these guys made contributions to gaming that were important not just for arcades but for gaming as a whole. Some of the talk is serious, some is light-hearted, they cover a number of the classic games they worked on and even quite a bit of discussion on Atari pinball machines.  You’ll just have to check them all out below

Gravitar testing, pinball talk

Vector monitors/game talk(speaking of that, my Asteroids Deluxe monitor recently went kaput), exergaming, cabinet make-up,

Failed prototype talk, cabinet designs, Namco licensing,

Copy protection, best selling game, worst business decision, Video Music, Picking innovations, The Last Starfighter

The Last Starfighter cont., Tank 8, the future of arcades, “hot tub stories”

Looking back at General Computer Corp.

December 1, 2009

When you think of influential companies in the arcade industry from the 80’s, you might not have GCC come to mind right at first, unless you are a classic game buff. But whether you know about GCC or not, they did play an important albeit somewhat brief role in the arcade industry back in the 80’s and the talent they had on-board was even coveted by the mighty Activision. Most of GCC’s history runs with Atari Corp as they developed a number of games for their home consoles (GCC even developed the Atari 7800), but they also developed a couple of arcade titles including Food Fight and a vector game called Quantum. The most significant contribution they made to the arcade gaming industry however was Ms. Pac-Man. They got their start making a mod of Missile Command called Super Missile Attack and they would later modify Pac-Man to create what became Ms. Pac-Man (it was actually called Crazy Otto at first, they approached Midway with the idea who bought it and made it into Ms. Pac-Man and later Namco would receive the rights of the game as GCC and Midway looked to avoid a legal battle).

In case you are interested in seeing what went on behind the scenes at GCC, one of guys who worked at GCC has a photo album online that covers a variety of events that went on at GCC, from flag pole meetings to parties, conventions and more. Apparently this photo album has been online for the past few years but only now are we hearing about it thanks to GameSetWatch and Rotheblog.When it comes to their titles, I have played a number of GCC developed titles on the Atari 7800 but I have never seen an arcade version of Food Fight or Quantum (supposedly only 500 of these were made so they are fairly rare and it is highly sought after by collectors) so I can’t say much about those although I would like to play them. Also at the next California Extreme their third and unreleased arcade title Nightmare will be making an appearance to the public for the first time, I believe. Nightmare is the game that is probably pictured above at GCC’s arcade development station (the one with the TRON controls)

[GCC Photo Gallery] [Discuss on the Forums]

Leonardo DiCaprio as Nolan Bushnell in new movie called “Atari”

June 8, 2008

I have never really liked movies based upon video games – they always seem to miss the mark by a mile and end up disappointing. But it is not often that Hollywood decides to do a movie based upon game history so I guess I can give it the benefit of the doubt – for now although these types of stories are generally better fit for TV documentaries rather than movies. Leonardo DiCaprio has signed on to portray Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and who is widely considered the grandfather of video games. In the pitch made to Paramount, they are going to shoot for a cross between Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Tucker for the biopic of the famous company that started it all but as to what period in Atari’s history it will cover is anyone’s guess and to how accurate it will be also will be up for debate.

As you know I hold a great respect for Atari so I really hope that they don’t botch it up although the current company that owns and uses the Atari name has done worse over the past few years (minus the Flashback 2). I’m sure we can expect to see a number of arcade games in the movie at least but just because a movie has arcades in it doesn’t automatically make it good (i.e. Joysticks).

[Via Slashfilm] [Discuss on the Forum]

Leonardo DiCaprio as Nolan Bushnell in new movie called "Atari"

June 8, 2008

I have never really liked movies based upon video games – they always seem to miss the mark by a mile and end up disappointing. But it is not often that Hollywood decides to do a movie based upon game history so I guess I can give it the benefit of the doubt – for now although these types of stories are generally better fit for TV documentaries rather than movies. Leonardo DiCaprio has signed on to portray Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and who is widely considered the grandfather of video games. In the pitch made to Paramount, they are going to shoot for a cross between Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Tucker for the biopic of the famous company that started it all but as to what period in Atari’s history it will cover is anyone’s guess and to how accurate it will be also will be up for debate.

As you know I hold a great respect for Atari so I really hope that they don’t botch it up although the current company that owns and uses the Atari name has done worse over the past few years (minus the Flashback 2). I’m sure we can expect to see a number of arcade games in the movie at least but just because a movie has arcades in it doesn’t automatically make it good (i.e. Joysticks).

[Via Slashfilm] [Discuss on the Forum]


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