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9 Times Developers Screwed the Console Manufacturers

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It has not always been all happy and go lucky days in video games.  No, back in the day we had some real controversial things going on, mostly behind the scenes but quite a few made it to the fanbase (such as the Tengen situation).  There are poop monsters shooting a questionable brown projectile at you to company backstabbing ahead.  Strap yourself in and get ready to find out the nine times that game developers screwed over console manufacturers.

  1. PO’ed by Any Channel for the 3DOPo'ed

This was one of the early success stories of the Internet because development on PO’ed was developed by a company whose staff didn’t meet till the game was shown at an Electronics Entertainment Expo.  The idea behind PO’ed involves a cook who is on a badly damaged spaceship that has crash landed on an alien planet.  The denizens are not friendly either.

How did Any Channel get back at the 3DO Company?  They were upset over dealings with the way things were going with the console(s) so they inserted a character that is literally a walking ass.  Don’t ask what it shoots at you…

2) Warren Robinette and Adventure for the Atari 2600imagen-sin-titulo

This is probably one of the most famous Easter Eggs in gaming, though not so easy to explain how to earn it.  Adventure was a big title for Atari back in the day, it was also a huge risk as nothing like it had been released before, arguably since then either.  There weren’t any space ships to shoot, no guns to use, no dots to eat.  In effect, Adventure was about as anti-Atari gaming as you could get at the time.  You were on a quest and had to avoid enemies screen after screen till you fulfilled your destiny.

How did Warren Robinette get back at Atari?  When Adventure was released Atari had a policy of not sharing information on the designers, programmers, or anyone associated with the game.  This was out of fear that other companies would head hunt the talent.  Warren inserted his initials into the game, viewable after completing a slightly complex task in the game.  This was a huge no-no for Atari programmers and it was apparently not accepted all that well with the upper staff.  Not much was done about the game itself because the Easter Egg was found after so many copies shipped.

3) Activision becomes first 3Rd party developer for Atari 2600, ever really500px-Activision.svg

Okay, continuing the fun from #2 there we come to Activision and the Atari 2600 days.  The 2600 was pretty much an open console, there was no real lockout technology used to prevent people from making their own games.  A small group of Atari programmers that were not happy with not being allowed to bask in the glow of their successful games decided to break off and create Activision.

How did Activision get back at Atari?  By forming an unlicensed 3rd party game publisher for the Atari 2600, that is how.  Atari fought the situation in court but it failed and Activision was allowed to continue.  This only opened the floodgates for other companies such as Imagic.  This also probably led to the demise of videogames in general in the crash of 1983/1984 as there was no real quality checks and balances instituted- something Nintendo fixed with their Nintendo Entertainment System.

4) Tengen Tests Nintendo’s Legal ProwessTengen_logo

Tengen used to be a licensed 3rd party developer for the Nintendo Entertainment System and then all of a sudden they weren’t.  Only three of their games are licensed by Nintendo.  What started the screwjob was the overly restrictive nature of Nintendo 3rd party publisher contracts (why?  See #3 above).  Basically Nintendo said play by our rules or don’t play at all, Tengen played for a bit, did some corporate shenanigans and bam, unlicensed 3rd party developer sitting in court.

How did Tengen get back at Nintendo?  Well, for one they kind of illegally obtained information on Nintendo’s lockout chip technology.  Second, they went out to license Sega arcade titles like Shinobi and held up popular licenses like Pac-Man.  They also released what they thought was the only legit version of Tetris for the NES, while Nintendo released their version, which was legally legit.

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Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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