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The first commercially successful game is already 50 years old – do you know it?

Gaming has been around for many years. Countless games are out there and more are yet to come, but which game was the first commercially successful game to spend money on? We did some research and found the answer for you.

Which game was it? Many of you will surely know the game because it is about the iconic and nostalgic arcade game “Pong”. Who would have thought that such a simple game principle would hit like a bomb in 1972 and captivate many people.

While many arcade games, such as pinball or streetfighter, were still housed in gaming halls at the time, Pong paved the way for game consoles and gaming at home. However, the table tennis-inspired game has an exciting story that we don’t want to withhold from you.

Speaking of gaming consoles, how about 5 devices that flopped so hard that hardly anyone knows them anymore:

5 consoles that flopped so hard you probably don’t know them all

The story behind Pong

How did Pong come about? The iconic game from the 70’s has a complicated history behind it. The company “Magnavox”, which also produced the game console “Odyssey” at the time, created the game called “Ping Pong”. Unfortunately, the console was not the box office hit and despite the cool game idea, production of the console was discontinued in 1974.

So while Magnavox didn’t have any success with the idea behind the console, another company was better off. The company founder and boss behind Atari “Nolan Bushnell” snapped up the gameplay behind ping pong in a 1972 presentation by Magnavox. There he had had the time to test the game and form an idea from it.

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Here again an original gameplay from Atari 1972

He immediately recognized the game’s potential and employed his then employee Allan Alcorn to program the arcade game for practice purposes. However, the game was so good that they decided to market it. The title “Ping Pong” was already out of print, so the team at the time decided to simply call it “Pong”.

To Atari’s disadvantage, however, Magnavox got wind of the operation and sued them for $700,000 for use of the patent rights. Atari didn’t care, however, as they had sold a total of 8,000 Pong slot machines by then, but that wasn’t enough.

Pong also made it to your home: Atari went a step further when they introduced a home console with the game “Pong” at the 1975 Consumer Electronic Show. Despite the huge sales of the slot machines, they attracted little interest as such a console had already been on the market from Magnavox.

After the performance, however, an employee of Sears, a large trading company from the United States, got in touch. Sears would be interested in marketing the console, but only on condition:

  • Sears retains all marketing rights
  • Atari would have to deliver 150,000 units of the console by the holiday season

Atari followed suit and made sure that the 1975 Christmas business was a complete success. The consoles, as well as replicas with the game of pong, sold in large quantities in the United States. In Europe, the hype surrounding the game lasted until the early 1980s. Through certain coincidences and given opportunities, Atari ensured that Pong became gaming’s first commercially successful game.

But what do you think of Pong? Are you from that same year and did you enjoy the simple game desEsports Extrasand principle when you were young? Let us know in the comments!

Our cover image is an iconic image of a vintage gaming rig, featuring the game Space Invaders.


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