I have a confession to make. I still own an Atari 2600, two as a matter of fact (unless my mother doesn’t care about my childhood and sold my original). So my opinion on the Atari 2600 vs. Intellivision may be slightly biased. I have one at my home in Denver and one in my parent’s attic in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the version I have in Denver is a newer model with all the games built right into the system, so it’s kind of cheating and pales in comparison to the original, but the ability to play Pitfall on a 50 inch screen is kind of awesome, much better than the 20 inch television I grew up with.
I vividly remember growing up with my Atari, it was my gateway into gaming that 33 years later that I still, much to my wife’s dismay, partake. I also remember wanting to go to my friend’s house and play his sweet Intellivision, it was different and just by looking at the controller you knew you were in for a good time! It’s like a calculator with one huge button at the bottom, and everyone knows that math = fun. Also, that big button, it rotates, that’s how you control everything on the screen.
The Intellivision was the 2600’s biggest competitor and came out two years after the 2600. Wait, you don’t remember the Intellivision? That’s ok, not everyone does, it never took off and Atari quickly became the standard. In keeping with our throwback Thursday theme, let’s look at why the Atari 2600 won the first console wars.
A gaming console is only as good as its games. The Intellivision had a respectable 125 titles, but the 2600 had 469. Here is also where we see the first sign of a marketing strategy for both companies and how they differed. Atari used a broad stroke, focusing on easy-to-play games focusing on the entire family while Intellivision focused on strategy-based games that appealed to a more dedicated but decidedly smaller audience.Winner – Atari
Atari was known for having really cool commercials. Intellivision had a better product that made better looking games, but their marketing often fell flat. Intellivision focused on quality while Atari focused on quantity. It was quickly very apparent through effective and targeted advertising that Atari was more successful at bringing the arcade experience home while Intellivision really missed the mark.Winner – Atari
History would go to show that having better hardware and a better product doesn’t win a technology war. This same story was repeated with Genesis vs Super Nintendo and still today with the Playstation and Xbox. Advertising and Marketing Strategy continues to play an integral role in the success or in this case, failure of a product, this and a terrible, terrible controller.
Thanks for reading,