Odessey 1 (was Re: Fw: Game console up to $200)

From: Martin Scott Goldberg <wgungfu_at_csd.uwm.edu>
Date: Wed Apr 23 14:17:00 2003

>>Magnavox didn't test market in that way, since there was no market to test
>>in. The Odyssey, being the first video game console, was sold alongside
>>every other Magnavox product just like any other television accessory
>>(which is what it was considered by many at the time, and why many people
>>wound up mistakingly thinking it would only work on Magnavox television
>Makes sense, but that doesn't preclude my theory from being correct. (see

Actually, it does. Read below.

>>My guess is your parent's could have gotten a used model, or you just
>>don't remember everything that actually came with it because you were so
>>young and it was so long ago.
>Nope, it might very well have been a test product. My father owns a
>market research company, and in the past Magnavox has been one of our
>clients. There is a good chance that it was obtained directly from
>Magnavox for the purpose of a focus group to discuss it and get opinions
>on it. Knowing that people thought it was only for Magnavox TVs just
>makes me believe this even more, as it would have been ripe for a focus
>group to try to figure out how to alter public perception.

Actually, it's the opposite. People just didn't do focus groups for these
types of products, and the fact that Magnavox didn't change it's marketing
the entire 2 years it was being sold show's it's lack of attempt at this
type of idea. It was unheard of, and to Magnavox at the time would be no
different than doing a focus group for a new TV antenna. It wasn't
considered a major product purchase like a television - something
they would consider spending the money on product placement research
for. It was considered a television accessory. Just another example
of the cost cutting and lack of forsight on it - the Odyssey prototype
that Ralph built was originally in *color*. (In fact last time I
talked to him, he was in the middle of restoring it to display color
again.) Maganvox was the one that decided to go with black and white
to cut costs.

Again, you don't have to take my word for it, talk to Ralph himself or ask
any of the major Odyssey and Pong collectors (such as David Winter).
People thought it was only for Magnavox because Magnavox *didn't* know how
to market it and *didn't* care to change it. The history of the Odyssey
is legendary for this fact. You're infusing a market view and practice
common in the video game industry (and others) today that just didn't
exist back then. There was no industry at the time. What prompted
sales of the original Odyssey were it's novelty effect and it's tennis
game. Why the tennis game? Because of the success Atari was generating
with it's Pong coin-op in the arcades at the same time. The actual video
game industry (from a modern consumer standpoint) didn't start until '75
when Atari started it's consumer division and pong consoles (Magnavox
did as well with the Odyssey 100, which just played it's tennis game)
literally started pushing video game consoles as a consumer product of
their own (under the Sears Tele-games label). Then with the influx of
Warner money, marketing and advertising in 1976 you had the stakes raised
to the level of big business (which is where you have focus groups and
other such practices come in). Atari created the modern video game
industry, and Nintendo perfected it's in the mid to late 80's.

>I also have 2 (3?) Atari 2600's that were never purchased, but instead
>left behind after studies and focus groups were done with them. I was
>supposed to have a Coleco Adam from the same way, but Coleco opted to
>take it back (which just made me want my friend's even more, which he
>shipped off to the Philipeans after telling me I could have it... so I
>think I am destined to never own an Adam). I tried to get a TurboExpress
>(the Turbo Graphix 16 portable unit). But at the time that I was playing
>with one when we were doing groups on them, it was one of 3 in the US
>from Japan (the other two of them NEC execs were busy playing with in the
>same room)

Yes, but these (including the 2600) are much later products. Warner was a
major media studio that brought that level of marketing to Atari and
the industry for instance (including commercials, movie appearances,
etc.). Before that, they just didn't exist in the video game and coin-op
industry. People didn't test market pong consoles. There was a sort of
test market of coin-ops before that, but that usually just involved
setting up a coin-op in an arcade location and seeing how much money it
earned at the end of a few weeks. No concerted "focus group" type effort.

>I had more toys growing up than I new what to do with... all because they
>would be left behind after studies, a practice that most companies seem
>to have stopped. Unfortantly, I didn't know the gold mine I was sitting
>on, so many of the items were broken and/or disposed of (much like how I
>cry when I see what Star Wars action figures go for today, and I think
>about how many I blew up with firecrackers in my back yard).
>Of course, NONE of this means that is how I got my Odessey for sure. It
>is just my suspicion based on what my parents were willing to buy. If it
>was remotely interesting or expensive, they wouldn't buy it. So all the
>best toys came from study leftovers. Since I remember the Odessey as
>being fun, and I'm sure it wasn't cheap, I have to assume we did a job on
>it and Magnavox left it behind.

The sold for about $100 at the time.

Received on Wed Apr 23 2003 - 14:17:00 BST

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