How the 1983 Crash Nearly Ended Home Console and Full Sized Arcade Games


There was once a period in the gaming industry where it seemed as though full sized arcade games and consoles would go defunct. Indeed, the gaming crash of 1983 was a dark time and would affect all of gaming, causing changes that we still feel today due to what occurred in the early 80s. Here in this blog, we will take a deep understanding of how this happened and what it means for future gaming.

High volume, Poor Quality

Back in the old days of gaming, full sized arcades and home consoles were quite the rage, especially when developed by Atari. There were different games by various developers, and this situation became a problem. It became worse when developers were shipping out low-quality games to cut costs and make quick cash grabs, that interest in American developed games began to wane. Release of the E.T., video game best witnessed this.


Video game movies were quite common back in the day, and E.T. was no exception. Unfortunately, the financiers wanted it done within six weeks to make it for the holidays. This idea sounds like a ludicrous goal for those who do not know anything about video game development. There was nothing game developer Howard Scott Warshaw could do with the allotted time. Considering that Obsidian could barely finish a game like Fallout: New Vegas in 18 months, he had little chance of making a good game in five weeks. Those that played the game could attest to this, and E.T. became a prime example of how games were developed back in the day.

The Crash

This game was poorly received that when it flooded the market, over half of the copies sold were returned for refunds. Many other games followed suit, and the market became very unpopular with this constant dip in quality. It was worse when P.C.s were becoming more popular and overtaking the consoles and arcades due to their more reliable memory and processors than their gaming counterparts. Soon P.C.s started competing directly with consoles and, in some cases, sold cheaper, which made it easier to choose. Even the invincible arcade games were hit hard due to how outdated they seemed in terms of quality compared to what a P.C. could give you, and competition was arising from across the Pacific Ocean.

Rise of Japanese Games

Many Japanese Game developers noticed what was happening in America and thus smelled blood in the gaming market. They developed consoles like the NES, taking advantage of the American game development free fall, which became an instant hit overseas. At the same time, many game development and console companies in America were going out of business, sold, or acquired by more prominent companies like Nintendo. The company breathed new life into the game industry that was of good quality and brought in new ways through the types of games that could be developed and enjoyed. Hence, though there was a downturn in the gaming market, it was by no means the end of the gaming industry as a whole.


With new types of games came new types of console and arcade games that could hit the market, games of actual quality for consumers to enjoy. If there was anything to learn about the 1983 crash, it takes more than minimal effort and hoping that the holiday season can get you good sales to make a good quality game that can last. It’s a lesson many development companies have learned today and can hopefully continue to learn from in the coming years.


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