Atari founder’s favourite game was ‘putting competitors out of business’

Monday, 6th August 2012 02:57 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Nolan Bushnell, the Atari founder credited with kicking off the games industry in the US, has confessed to deriving more pleasure from the business side of things than games themselves.

“The best game that I ever played at Atari was the game of putting my competitors out of business. I really turned out to be pretty good at that,” Bushnell told Eurogamer.

“You know, Atari didn’t ship the most Pong games. We were heavily copied. The good news was that anybody with a garage shop could make a Pong game – because that’s all I had. But later on everybody thought: we’ll just copy Atari stuff because they can’t build very fast,” he added, noting that copy-cats are a serious issue.

“We were always undercapitalised because nobody believed in video games. Did you know we were at 40 million sales before we got any venture capital? It’s crazy.”

The veteran designer said he’s not actually interested in entering the “red ocean” that is the modern games industry, but has some ideas for how he might do it.

“If I was to re-enter the industry today I would focus strictly on Augmented Reality,” he said.

“I like the idea of casual mesh networks actually. So, for example, you would be on a subway car with your iPhone. Can you create an app that sets up a quick mesh network that you can play a game on in 25 seconds? Those casual groups of strangers you pass in the physical space are very interesting in terms of games.”

Atari introduced some of the best-loved and longest-lived arcade games, and Bushnell said that’s an area that still interests him somewhat.

“I would love to design a new arcade. Arcades traditionally bridge the gap between technologies that were expensive and available in labs but not available commercially with the masses,” he said.

Bushnell also pitched a 45-minute role-playing game experience. The full feature, available through the link above, contains plenty of interest, including Nolan’s idea for a tongue-controlled keyboard so he doesn’t get tickets for texting while driving.



  1. NightCrawler1970

    ???? which competitors??? they where the first and only on the video game console on the market, even i had the Atari 2600 and played many games when they came out…

    I’m pretty sure, there was no “other competitors” them Atari self, when other console competitors came on the market it was “GAME OVER” For Atari 2600 console, Atari took side-way making PC like the Atari 600XL and 800XL they where booming on the marking but Atari 600XL and 800XL wasn’t make to play games…
    Than later on the Atari 1040ST came on the market and many upper class system, but it was destroyed when the Commodore Amiga came on the market, because Commodore Amiga was a system that plays lot-ta games any gerne.. more games on Amiga than on the Atari ST…

    Both system went down, commodore claim bankrupted and Atari went down when the first 168 and 268 PC computer & MAC came on the market…

    The battle still remains PC vs Mac, Mac it self is not a game-system. so that’s the good thing to have a PC :D

    Atari now in present time, they are lucky that people have Iphones and Android, they still want to play Pac-man whenever they have a lunchbreak.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. GwynbleiddiuM

    Sorry then for getting Game Over so early in the game..

    #2 2 years ago
  3. roadkill

    @1 LOL!!

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Da Man

    Atari founder obviously had a low K/D ratio..

    #4 2 years ago
  5. NightCrawler1970

    @3, read this link and the other link….

    @2, there was no Sony or Xbox in 1980… so yeah Atari make a nice fortune in that time, but time change, technology kept going, only Atari dev are bullheaded morons, that didn’t make the Atari a power-system, and lost the market, the Atari Dev only change the system look..

    #5 2 years ago
  6. ManuOtaku

    #5 I think one of the main reasons atari went down was for the non boundaries developers had in order to make a game on atari and sell it raw without any restriction or any supervision from ataris part, and basecally anyone that wanted to make a game on it could do it, good and bad, but they were mostly bad, examples like the E.T game, those games in the end hurt the reputation of being existing copies of other games and being really bad, that was the main reason, if my mind doenst fail me of course.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. NightCrawler1970

    @6 yeah some games like ET are bad, but i have the category “SUCKS” & “UGLY”….

    Pitfall was allot better and was made by “activision” in that time “Activision” was a normal company, now they’re just a bunch of creedy bastard bitching about Other Game-devs making a shooting game, and Activision start bitching about “copy-cats” shit… jada jada jada…
    And i bet that the former “IW” now under EA license “Respawn” will make a shooting game and it will be 10x than MW2 and the rest….

    #7 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.