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What was up with Sears Tele-Games?


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Tele-Games was a Sears "Private Label." This was far more common in the age of Department Stores. They always wanted an exclusive. You still see this today in some forms, for example if you shop in the Men's Department at Dillard's you will find a lot of clothes from Roundtree & Yorke, which is a Dillard's exclusive Private Label. Other manufacturers produce these clothes per Dillard's request so they have exclusive items to offer. The PONG and Atari 2600 deals were more or less the same thing, although there were only a few exclusive games released. I used to work with the gentleman who negotiated much of the Sears deal for the 2600 so I've had the privilege of hearing the backstory first hand a number of times. It's just business. Simply put, Atari existed as a maker of video games that you could play at home because Sears believed in them and was willing to help them out in the beginning with PONG, followed by the launch of the Atari 2600. This included getting Atari products into the Sears Catalog in time for Christmas, distribution, manufacturing, and introducing Atari to Sears' bank to provide the sorts of loans they would need to get PONG off the assembly line. This extended into the lifespan of the Atari 2600, and almost the Atari 5200 which nearly had a Sears Tele-Games release as well. In return for Sears assistance, they wanted to offer their own exclusive line of video games produced by Atari for Sears. It may seem strange to imagine this now but this was common at the time even with TVs and especially appliances such as Whirlpool which was another Sears Private Label brand.

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Yeah it's hard to believe now, but the Sears name was a million times bigger than Atari at the start. Since Sears often renamed games and used different artwork, I do feel bad for any kid who got the same game twice on accident! 

FYI - There were three game that were only published under the Sear Tele-Games label for the 2600: Steeplechase, Stellar Track, and Submarine Commander.

I just noticed that they all begin with S, just like Sears...coincidence?

 

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2 hours ago, nosweargamer said:

FYI - There were three game that were only published under the Sear Tele-Games label for the 2600: Steeplechase, Stellar Track, and Submarine Commander.

I just noticed that they all begin with S, just like Sears...coincidence?

That is an interesting coincidence!

Sears did not limit this branding to Atari systems either.  They did the same with the Intellivision and they had a different version of the same console made just to sell under their Tele-Games brand.  It was the Sears Super Video Arcade.  I actually like its design more than I like the original Intellivision design not only because of its looks but also because the controllers are removable! 

 

Super Video Arcade.jpg

Edited by TrekMD
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30 minutes ago, TrekMD said:

That is an interesting coincidence!

Sears did not limit this branding to Atari systems either.  They did the same with the Intellivision and they had a different version of the same console made just to sell under their Tele-Games brand.  It was the Sears Super Video Arcade.  I actually like its design more than I like the original Intellivision design not only because of its looks but also because the controllers are removable! 

 

Super Video Arcade.jpg

I really like the look of the Sears Intellivision. Really captures a 70s look.

Interestingly, the Intellivision games that Sear published kept the original name, although they had some fantastic artwork variations.

Yabba the Hut on Sears Frog Bog Box? - Intellivision / Aquarius ...INTV Funhouse - Sears GamesINTV Funhouse - PGA GolfSpace Battle

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26 minutes ago, TrekMD said:

There was also the Sears Video Arcade II, which was based on the Atari 2800 design.  It was unique to Sears since Atari never released the 2800.  They did, however, use the body design for the 7800.

 

Sears Video Arcade II.jpg

I knew about this one; I almost bought one a few months back but decided not to

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