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Video 61

Atari's history on unreleased games

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Many times I'm asked about the unreleased Atari games we sell. "where did you get them" or "how did you get them" or "why is this dealer able to sell this stuff, when it's Atari's property?"

 

There were, primarily, three authorized Atari dealers that were loyal to Atari right up to the end: B&C Computervisions, Best Electronics, and of course me, Video 61.

 

When Atari pulled the plug on any of their systems, we were allowed directly into their warehouse and offices to buy whatever was left that they were offering. We made bids on tons of stuff. This included computers, hard drives, rolls of e-proms, disks full of images, prototype cartridges, etc. that contained data for unreleased games. I even have a pile of removable hard disks, plus lots of other stuff hardware related.

 

Atari never wiped any thing clean. They knew full wellwhat we were going to do, and if they objected to it, they would have never sold them to us loaded with unreleased games, they would have wiped the data clean if they did not want us to produce the games. They sold them to us as is, which means we get to release the stuff, because we bought them outright.

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Yeah Atari did that here in America all of the time. It got so bad that hardly anyone would trust them on pricing. As far as Paperboy is concerned, so far i have not seen it. But i have not looked at anything in almost 4 years now.

 

Julie Wade at Atari once told me she just got in a new game for the 7800, and Jack ordered it shelved immediately. It was in the early 1990's, perhaps 1991. I tried to buy it, but no deal. So it might have been destroyed. Or the only known copy is sitting quietly in an ex Atari employee's collection. Atari had not dumped the 7800 yet when that happened. Could've been Klax.

 

In 1989 when Atari admitted to me under duress that they had informally dumped the XE line, they admitted they had finished games for the XE that were going to be left unreleased. They offered the games to the three dealers mentioned, Atari would have sold the games for $100,000 a piece. We turned them down, no way could we come up with that kind of money for at least 6-10 games.

 

So in 1991-92, we ended up with them anyways.

 

Speaking of games, you also mentioned Beer Belly Bert in a thread. I'm pretty sure i have that in a proto cart also. I just need a friend to help dig it out for me, like he did with Ruff and Ready.

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Would love to know if you have anything VCS-related in your cache of material, Lance (btw, best wishes for a speedy recovery).

 

The story of the 3 remaining dealers buying everything (?) in Atari's final days is one I've heard before, and Atari still lives on through you 3.  I agree, the $100k Atari was originally asking for each game was absurd, knowing that Atari likely didn't pay anywhere that much for them.  I suppose you could have waited until nightfall, trespassed onto Atari's property, and stole the items... but that would be illegal :)

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Would love to know if you have anything VCS-related in your cache of material, Lance (btw, best wishes for a speedy recovery).

 

The story of the 3 remaining dealers buying everything (?) in Atari's final days is one I've heard before, and Atari still lives on through you 3.  I agree, the $100k Atari was originally asking for each game was absurd, knowing that Atari likely didn't pay anywhere that much for them.  I suppose you could have waited until nightfall, trespassed onto Atari's property, and stole the items... but that would be illegal :)

 

Thanks for the kind words on the recovery. doctors tell me another year to a year in a half. Bummer.

 

There were some 2600 games, like Save Mary and Shooting Gallery. I also have some boards with e-proms on them, and of course the e-proms are covered. I plugged them in years ago, some work, some do not. At that time I had no boards, so I stuck them away someplace. Who knows where now. The Atari 2600 was my first machine, but I always loved the 7800 and the 8-bit computers more. So that is what i have concentrated on.

 

Someday if I get better, I will look for the 2600 stuff.

 

Atari had two semi truck trailers loaded with XEGM Mario Bros. carts, brand new in the box. To make sure people did not sneak into the parking lot and make off with inventory they did not want to use labor to put back into their inventory (i know, so damn cheap), they parked the trailer doors ends to each other, so that the only way to open a door of a trailer was to get a semi truck to move the trailers away from each other. That way no sneaky stuff after dark.

 

They refused to sell me the Mario Bros. carts, only if I paid the truck drivers rates. So the company that supplied the trucks, trailers, and drivers, wanted me to pay the freight of the carts that were hauled in from various stores around the country that returned the carts to Atari.

 

Atari usually hated to take back returns, and always tried to cut deals with stores so that they could put Atari's name brand to hell, through a closeout bin in the stores. If you ever wondered why Atari always had a trash name, that was one way to keep the name in the garbage.

 

I inquired about the freight, and found out I had to pay for months of rent for the trailers too, on top of paying to have the trailers pulled away from each other. I found the carts were way over priced by then, higher that what stores were selling them for, so I turned them down. Found out later they sold the carts to a scrapper for pennies each. They told me that there were 1,500 Mario Bros. games in one of the trailers.

 

This happened all of the time with Tramiel's Atari. If they smelled money like with the selling us the unreleased games, they played hard ball. But if they came to find out they had no leverage, then at the right time, I could have gotten the games at a reasonable price.

 

The day the scrapper came into Atari to see what they had, must have been a day that Atari got sick of paying the trailer rental bill, and he got them cheap.

 

To this day i am still bummed out over that.

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