Atari acquires Intellivision, ending a console war that dates back to the late 1970s

Atari has acquired Intellivision, which brings together the very first video game rivals from the late 1970s - ending a 45-year rivalry.

1 minute & 34 seconds read time

In the United States, the video game era in the late 1970s and early 1980s was defined by two consoles - the Atari 2600 and Intellivision. This rivalry predates the Nintendo versus Sega era by a decade and the current PlayStation versus Xbox versus Nintendo era. It even predates most gamers in 2024, who weren't even alive when the Atari 2600 was a thing that connected to a TV.

Console gaming has come a long, long way.

Atari and Intellivision aren't big players in the modern video game era, which makes today's announcement that Atari is acquiring Intellivision and its various trademarks and games more of a fun news story than the monumental news that something like PlayStation acquiring Xbox (or the other way around) would be.

What does Atari + Intellivision mean for gaming? The press release states, "Atari will seek to expand digital and physical distribution of legacy Intellivision games, potentially create new games, and explore brand and licensing opportunities."

This is standard corporate jargon, but at least the higher-ups at Atari know the history and fun surrounding this acquisition. "Uniting Atari and Intellivision after 45 years ends the longest-running console war in history," said Mike Mika, Studio Head at Digital Eclipse, an Atari-owned game studio.

An early ad for the Intellivision video game console. Game visuals have come a long way.

An early ad for the Intellivision video game console. Game visuals have come a long way.

"This was a very rare opportunity to unite former competitors and bring together fans of Atari, Intellivision, and the golden age of gaming," adds Wade Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Atari.

In 2024, Atari is more of a publisher than a hardware maker, with the company owning iconic franchises like Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Pong, and RollerCoaster Tycoon, as well as celebrated game development studios like Digital Eclipse and Nightdive Studios.

Owning Intellivision will add "more than 200 titles from the Intellivision portfolio and the Intellivision trademarks." Based on the list of titles released for the console that first launched in 1979, there's nothing we can see that is as recognizable as Pong or Asteroids - so it'll be interesting to see what comes from this acquisition.

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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