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RIP Ray Kassar


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5 replies to this topic

#1 RickR

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 10:33 PM

Ray Kassar, president of Atari from Feb 1978 through July 1983 passed away on Dec 10.2017. 

 

http://www.legacy.co...x?pid=187558023

 

I know many Atari fans have mixed feelings about the man, but he did oversee the golden age of Atari.  And sadly, it's demise as well. 

 

It's fair to say he had good and bad leadership qualities.  On the good side, he streamlined Atari and it's manufacturing processes.  He added much-needed discipline and formality to the company culture.  He kicked off the arcade port craze with the licensing of Space Invaders for 2600.  Atari saw astronomical growth under his early leadership.

 

On the negative side, he didn't seem to value the programmers that created Atari's games.  If he'd given in to programmer demands for a little recognition and profit-sharing, it could have prevented the third party software craze that drove the crash of 1983.  He was a prima donna, with long commutes with a driver to Atari HQ.  I dismantled Atari's renowned R&D machine.  He valued milking the 2600 for all it was worth rather than developing a better and more innovative gaming system. 

 

RIP Ray Kassar.


Edited by RickR, 05 January 2018 - 10:35 PM.

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#2 TrekMD

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 02:15 AM

May he rest in peace.


Going to the final frontier, gaming...


#3 dgrubb

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 02:47 PM

RIP.

 


On the negative side, he didn't seem to value the programmers that created Atari's games.  If he'd given in to programmer demands for a little recognition and profit-sharing, it could have prevented the third party software craze that drove the crash of 1983. 

 

Not wishing to appear to be defending his attitude towards his developers, but I'm not so sure about that. Somebody would have given third-party development a shot eventually and it could have been a group with far less skill than Activision.

 

 He valued milking the 2600 for all it was worth rather than developing a better and more innovative gaming system.

 

While true, that wasn't altogether unreasonable at the time. We take a lot of how the games industry works for granted in retrospect: console generations, technology obsolescence, ecosystems and licensed software partners seem obvious to us now but were nonexistent at the time. Technology obsolescence, especially, is a process which has accelerated over time. The 6502, in its original form, was powering new devices for over a decade, how long did it take for the 486 to be replaced? Consumers at the time were less likely to accept replacement cycles, demanding a console be more like an appliance, as evidenced by the attempts to build backwards compatibility into the 7800, Mega Drive and SNES.

 

My point is, it's easy to point to what he got wrong in retrospect, but I'm willing to cut him quite a lot of slack because those decisions were a product of their time, not necessarily incompetence/malice on his part and many others in his place would have made the same choices.


Edited by dgrubb, 06 January 2018 - 02:51 PM.


#4 RickR

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 03:01 PM

Very true...hindsight is 20/20. 


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#5 Clint Thompson

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 09:55 PM

Sad to learn but it seems as though he has lived a very successful and overall long life at 89 years of age.


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#6 TeddyGermany

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 07:33 AM

In an interview i have asked Howard Scott Warshaw about his thoughts of Ray Kassar. He told me, in his own opinion Kassar had done a good job, because the Computer/Console-industry was new and there were no experience how to act or react in the best way. Kassar had used his very own experience, which made him a successful manager. Ok, he came from the soft good sector, but surely had a good reputation. I think, Steve Ross, who hired him, was not an idiot.


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