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Atari buys Intellivision, bringing an end to the original console war

The big picture: Despite being just shadows of their former selves, the Atari and Intellivision brands are still on the market almost 50 years after their original introduction. Atari has now acquired its historical competitor, bringing hundreds of classic games under one common roof.

Atari SA has announced the acquisition of the Intellivision brand, a deal with historical implications likely to be leveraged to bring even more classic video games to nostalgic players and modern gaming systems. Atari and Intellivision were major competitors in what is now considered the first console war of the game industry. Both experienced the video game crash of 1983 and were ultimately forced to make way for other console makers such as Nintendo and Sega.

The Atari brand is now owned by Atari SA, a French company formerly known as Infogrames, which is mostly focused on retro gaming products and acquisitions. Intellivision Entertainment is a new company founded by producer Tommy Tallarico in 2018, aiming to develop a new Intellivision home console known as Intellivision Amico.

The classic Intellivision machine was originally released in 1979, selling five million units beforel its ultimate demise in the 90s. Intellivision fought a fierce commercial battle against the Atari 2600, even recruiting writer-turned-actor George Plimpton for a series of TV ads that compared the two consoles and highlighted Intellivision’s supposedly superior technological capabilities.

Intellivision Entertainment will now become part of Atari SA’s retro gaming business, including rights to the console brand and more than 200 games owned by Tallarico’s venture. IE will continue to sell its troubled Amico console and publish Intellivision games licensed by Atari SA.

Atari SA is seemingly interested in releasing Intellivision games in both digital and physical markets and is even considering developing new games based on the old console’s legacy. Branding and licensing opportunities are also being explored as part of a long-term plan to revive the nearly defunct gaming brand.

According to Atari SA chairman and CEO Wade Rosen, the acquisition provides a rare opportunity to “unite former competitors” that were well-known during the golden age of gaming. Phil Adam, CEO of Intellivision Entertainment, praised Atari as a “valued partner” and looks forward to future collaboration opportunities.

The console wars are over; now, it’s all about business.

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