Have you ever wondered why one console or video game title succeeds and then another one is destined for failure? Why is it when Atari created its ET title it was destined for a literal resting place in the garbage bins of history? In this Post I explore these questions and try to discern the variables required in making a classic and a tragic piece of gaming history.
(Click on image for the history of Video Game consoles)
Well like I mentioned in the above paragraph. What the heck happened to ET? That is a great example of a flop. ET was a blockbuster movie in the 1980’s so everyone thought that anything the little alien guy would be involved in would be a smash success as well. But alas, this was just not destined to be the case. The games graphics itself were very ugly, even for the days of Atari they were just extremely bad.
The plot was awful too, it consisted of ET going through various pits in search of pieces of a telephone so he could phone home. And apparently as he dropped down and then attempted to levitate out of the pit he would get weaker, and what did ET need to get stronger again to beat the game? Well, Reeces Pieces of course! This blatant commercialism was bad even for the 1980’s
Another big problem that Atari had for this title was that when they released it over the Christmas season of 1982 they had way over estimated how many would be sold. As a result they manufactured way to many copies of the title and even though the game did well initially that Christmas, it soon became clear they simply had way too many copies and nobody was going to buy them! So this led to one of the most embarrassing instances in gaming history. The biggest game console of the day, found themselves with no choice but to throw the copies away. Apparently they thought the game was so bad they couldn’t even give them to needy children, they just had to bury it!
So the death of ET was a combination of horrible graphics, bad plot, and even worse marketing. So many bad factors went against the poor extra terrestrial that even his blockbuster movie could not save his video game debut.
So that was a great flop of a video game, but what open entire consoles that flopped? Here’s a good example. Does anyone remember the Virtual Boy? Yes, don’t you remember how virtual reality had arrived in 1997? Nintendo’s commercials for the product seemed amazing. I remember seeing them at 13 years old and thinking it really was some breakthrough in Virtual Reality. Needless to say that Christmas when I received the product I was very confused. First of all it was very cumbersome to put up, a heavy apparatus you wrap around your eyes placed on a flimsy tripod. Then when I loaded the game I wanted to cry. I was expecting virtual reality, the first thing I wondered is why everything was red, no other color, and then why do the graphics look worse than my Super Nintendo?
After about ten minutes I started to have a headache. Then in my sickened and disappointed state I discovered various warnings and disclaimers that prolonged play could really hurt your eyes or worse.
So these are the ways that games and their consoles become quickly extinct. Games that have no plot, horrible graphics and no marketing capability quickly flop as do gaming consoles that false advertise their capability and are detrimental to your health!