When did video games become popular?

History of computer games: the first crash and the advancement of the computer game industry

published by Martin Lorber on July 07, 2011

In the second part of the series of articles on History of computer games I take a look at the time after the Atari 2600 (see the history of computer games: Part 1). From 1980 to 1982 the game market continued to develop rapidly, because the increasing popularity of computer games meant that numerous newcomers wanted to earn quick money. The result was a flood of the market with poor quality products that could not find buyers. Flanking this problem, the increasingly popular personal computers split the gaming community into two camps. In 1983 these circumstances led to the first tangible crisis in the games industry.

Hope from Japan

This crisis was particularly noticeable in America, Japan was less severely hit and so companies like Nintendo used the opportunity for their rise. Nintendo was already well known through previous projects and finally released a new console in Japan in 1983: the Famicom. After the console was also successful in America for the first market test in the Christmas business in 1985, it was sold throughout North America and from 1986 also in Europe under the name Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Gaining strength from the crisis

However, Nintendo only achieved its real breakthrough with the help of two imaginary Italian brothers. Due to the tremendous success of Super Mario Bros and the courage that followed, numerous US companies tried again in the field of video games. In 1985, two companies, Commodore and Atari, sold their consoles on the domestic market. In 1986 Electronic Arts became the leading software provider for the Amiga, after the company was the first in the branch to build its own sales network in 1984.

At the end of the 1980s, the market had been strengthened by the successful products. The gaming community had meanwhile split into PC and console camps - a division that still exists today. In addition, a new type of video game began its triumphant advance: mobile game consoles. At Christmas 1989 Nintendo's Gameboy appeared in America and enabled every gamer to pursue his hobby on the go. Atari also tried its own portable console: Although the Atari Lynx already had a color screen at that time, it did not achieve the popularity of the competition due to its low battery life, among other things.

In my next post on theHistory of video games I deal with the development of the industry from 1990 onwards.

Further links on the topic:

Web: History of video games: Part 1 - from Pong to the Atari 2600 (spielkultur.ea.de)

Web: Game history (biu-online.de)

Web: Electronic Arts company history (pdf, ea.de)