Console Wars: The Humble Beginnings
If you were wondering where in the hell I’ve been since January 1st when the Virtual Boy article was released, the real answer would be “I’ve been making some cash, working security, my feet and legs hurt, and could break like a box of dry spaghetti noodles at literally any moment” but the answer I will give you guys is that I’ve been in the AAOG basement crafting a series of articles, detailing and researching the near half century of mainstream gaming and I’ve spent the entire month on the most important thing that has existed in the near 50 years of it:
A concept and social demeanor that has existed since the 1970s but truly began in the 80s with the introduction of the Intellivision and ColecoVision both rivaling each other in the Double Vision wars, as well as same consoles competing with the Atari 2600, the NES going against the Sega Master System, the SNES going against the Genesis, and the newest console war with PlayStation vs Xbox with Nintendo being the Scrappy-Doo of this war (or the Jar Jar Binks of the bunch), it’s safe to say that Console Wars has always been an interesting social concept that always finds a way to be more attention fueled than Twitter rants. But since we have finally entered a new year and a new decade, it means a new generation of consoles. The monolithic Iowa class battleship of the Xbox Series X was revealed at the VGA’s, the inevitable PlayStation 5, although not revealed yet is a nuclear submarine waiting to rise and strike, but the Yamato of the Nintendo Switch Pro is coming fast and it’s ready to claim the throne the legendary Nintendo Empire hasn’t sat in since the Wii. The Ninth Generation of consoles is going to be a war of massive proportions that’ll make The Battle of Iwo Jima, The Battle of the Bulge, The Battle of Verdun and The Battle of Berlin look like a child’s book compared to what these three companies have in store for 2020 onwards, BUT, all wars have to come to an end, and the console Wars eventually have to come to an end with the way how the gaming landscape has been shifting to since the beginning of the prior decade and with the eighth generation of consoles.
But before we get to that, we must start from the very beginning. So without further or do, let’s strap in and strap on, because we’re going to look into the deep and rich history of console wars, and what the future has in store for it.
The first generation had begun when the Magnavox Odyssey was the first console to be released in 1972, becoming the first home console to be commercially available to the public. Now, most people think that there were no consoles to exist alongside the Odyssey, but there were, and they were called “Pong Consoles.” While the Magnavox Odyssey was released in September of 1972, the biggest gaming phenomenon to exist in the 70s, Pong, would release only two months later with overwhelming success and launched Atari all the way to Saturn, only for them to die in the rings like most bad business decisions they did only two decades after 1977. But after the release of Pong, 1973 onwards OOZED Pong Consoles like a volcanic lava overflow from Kilauea in Hawaii, the amount of Pong Consoles to literally exist from 1973 to 1983 was borderline mind numbing, and I highly recommend watching the episode where the Angry Video Game Nerd discusses Pong Consoles, because we’ll be here all day if we talk about all of them. Here’s a link to the video for all to see: https://youtu.be/FvT8jG1OVdI
That’s pretty much the gist of the first generation as it was mostly just Pong Consoles against the Magnavox Odyssey, and I can’t really declare a winner in that war, because the first generation was pretty much a free for all, like a round of Rust in Modern Warfare 2. Not only that, but the First Generation has an estimated total of 879 consoles. That’s as much as an average game library today. While technically the Odyssey won by the numbers and sales, it’s just a bit indecisive to say who really won. And for all who wonder how the Odyssey worked, the AVGN has you covered on that front too: https://youtu.be/kDAKxjG7VaI
The second generation, while still flooded with Pong Consoles that caused the never talked about and widely forgotten Video Game Crash of 1977, eventually had proper consoles that pretty much told the Pong Consoles to hold the beers of the Intellivision, ColecoVision, Vectrex, Fairchild Channel F and the juggernaut that was the Atari 2600 as they plowed through the market and into the homes of many people who wanted to own proper consoles. Now I mentioned the Fairchild Channel F, which is actually a Pong console, but once again, AVGN covers this console in his episode of Pong Consoles on YouTube which the link is above. The Intellivision and ColecoVision were the two primary consoles to go against the Atari 2600 and also each other, known as the Double Vision wars. And if you’re wondering who won in this generation’s console war, the obvious answer was the Atari 2600. Both the Intellivision and ColecoVision going against each other in the really short lived Double Vision wars was as forgettable as a BTS album along with their mediocre performance at New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Fight me K-Pop Stans, I ain’t afraid to speak my mind about it. And let’s be double honest, the concept of a numeric keypad on consoles are such a gimmick that I’m surprised that these even sold anything, but let’s remember, this was the 80s, and anything that was new, was considered innovative and cutting edge. If only I could call 911 on the controller and call the fire brigade because I accidentally lit my house on fire. But the problem between both consoles and even the 2600 which would also become a modern day trope that I’ll have, is all three consoles have some of the same games as well as their handful of exclusive games. Oh yeah, and let’s blame Atari for causing the creation of Activision.
Although Atari definitively won the second generation of the console wars in the sales, software and sheer popularity aspect, they would also lose the war at the exact same time for two reasons: The first being because they released the Atari 5200, which was a massive blunder as they followed the weird trend of numeric keypads for controllers, but the controllers broke easily, and it only sold a million units and was on the shelves for about two years before being discontinued in 1984.
The second reason as to why they really lost: the release of Pac-Man, and E.T. for the 2600 in 1982, which became the catalyst to a very infamous moment in video game history.
The Video Game Crash of 1983
To Be Continued…