Another closure email exchange of mine, this time with Ex-Atari UK Marketing Manager, Jon Dean.
I opened the exchange by asking Jon about his role as Marketing Manager at Atari UK:
" I ended up in marketing for the (new) Tramiel Atari Corporation as a result of being one of the few people that wasn't let go when (the old Warners) Atari International was sold; I guess it was because I knew the product range inside out having started out in product support. But I think it was more likely that I was very junior and very cheap! I didn't have a marketing background, I had been in software development, but I was well connected to the Atari community. The (new) Atari shared details of the new ST products with us and the XE range too, a big part of my role was to find software we could ship with them. I also worked with an ad agency, TBWA, on ads that promoted them as home computers. Other than that, the XE was an evolution of the 400/800 range, as you know, intended to be manufactured at a low enough cost to make larger volumes possible. Thus bundles were key: for the XE, mostly I used existing 400/800 games to make bundles for the likes of Dixons and repackaged them to match the styling of the new range (basic red with white diagonal lines);from memory we used The Lone Raider, The Pay Off, Chess, An Invitation To Programming and Eastern Front 1941."
Jon:"I spent a lot of time talking with UK developers, rallying whatever support I could for the range, trying to make sure new games were written for the platform. Hard to get traction, esp. as it was frowned on by Tramiel, but we had a few new titles. Likewise, with user groups, it was hard to provide much other than distributing things like the new DOS2.5. I also instigated a program to get the XE into educational establishments (as the BBC Micro had been so prevalent) which did OK but was hampered by not enough UK specific educational software. I became really quite disillusioned with the (new) Atari, especially as I kept being told that we wanted to banish the games image forever and become a 'serious' PC maker, so I left before things like the XEGS came along."
After leaving Atari UK, Jon went onto work for the likes of Activision:
Jon: "As an aside, I continued to try and get support for Atari 8-bit while at Activision. One of the best ways used to be finding hackers who would create really good quality conversions of Atari games; we would stop them selling the rip-offs and then see if we could buy the code and then publish with the official branding. The only one I can recall was Ghostbusters but there were others."
I cannot thank Jon enough for this personal insights into Atari UK and it goes a long way to reveal why we in the UK saw so little support for the A8 range, games wise as Tramiel clearly didn't like the idea of the hardware being used for games.
It's also always amazed me the likes of RetroGamer magazine, only ever seemed to call apon Darryl Still when doing articles on the A8/XEGS/ST etc...likes of Jon Dean, Bob Katz, Martin Walker and Les Player (RIP) never contacted, yet each had their own insights to share.
Jon ended by saying:
[[ JON ]- ] *** I'm still an Atari fan all these years later having first fallen in love with the 800 and my 4K RAM and the depth of the software range available. But my time producing software for Atari pretty much ended when the ST ended so I apologize I can't give you any further insights. Keep up the good work!
You can discover more about Jon here:
Edited by Lost Dragon, 19 February 2017 - 12:36 PM.