Nov 29, 2013
The PS4 is launching in Europe today, November 29th 2013. But 41 years ago, the gaming scene was very different. And was about to be revolutionised by a company known as Atari, with their new arcade video game Pong.
A lot has changed in 41 years. Pong invented the video game industry. And now, thanks to Atari, we are seeing colossal sales of power-house consoles, which all started with a couple of paddles and a pretty-square ball. To put this in perspective, Nintendo did not release their first console, Color TV Game, until 1977. Donkey Kong wouldn’t have success until 1981, which featured the first showcase of what-would-be Mario, named “Jumpman” at this stage. Space Invaders wouldn’t “invade” until 1978, and Konami wouldn’t release an arcade game until 1978. Pong started all this.
The arcade game Pong led to it’s own home console edition, Home Pong, as well as a number of competitor’s attempting to replicate it’s success. In turn, this made Atari fight to come up with new games. Essentially, Atari popularised arcade games, alongside creating the home console. And in 41 years, maybe the arcade games are not as popular; but we are seeing more people than ever playing games on their consoles. Atari managed to sell 19,000 arcade pong machines, whereas Sony have sold 155 million PS2s, and the PS4 selling over 1 million in 24 hours in the US.
So, how does the Atari stand up against our next-gen consoles? Well, Sony is boasting that the PS4 is the most powerful gaming console ever created, with an 8 core CPU. How much did Home Pong have? Well, none. However, it did have TTL Logic. Because microprocessor chips weren’t really a thing, yet.
Comparing games? Well the PS4 has Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, and Call of Duty: Ghosts, scoring 55, 74, and 79 on Metacritic respectively. Atari had, well, Pong. What more could you possibly need? This is the game that single-handedly invented an industry, and has been imitated and spoofed countless times since. Perhaps Atari actually wins on this front.
There’s something quite nice about the fact that 41 years to the day that the gaming industry was created, we are seeing one of the biggest console launches to date; the PS4 in Europe. From humble origins, we have come a long way. Greatness truly does await.