Atari Buys Intellivision Brand, Ending ‘Longest-Running Console War in History’

For fans of old-school games, it’s kind of like Coke acquiring Pepsi: Atari, which produced one of the first hit home game consoles, announced a deal to acquire the brand of long-time rival Intellivision and the rights to more than 200 games from Intellivision Entertainment.

Atari and Intellivision battled it out what is considered the game industry’s first console war, starting in the late ’70s. The first Intellivision home video game console was released by Mattel Electronics in 1979, selling an estimated 5 million units through 1990, and it vied for market share against the Atari 2600, wich was released in 1977. Mattel even recruited actor George Plimpton to appear in a series of ads comparing the two systems, as well as an eight-minute video shown at the Gamescom trade show.

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Founded in 1972, Atari is currently owned by France’s Atari SA (formerly called Infogrames) and has focused on cultivating a lineup of retro games. Atari’s iconic games include Pong, Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command.

With the Atari deal, Intellivision Entertainment will rebrand and continue its business of developing and distributing the Amico game console with a license from Atari to continue to distribute new versions of the Intellivision games portfolio on the Amico console. Intellivision claims it had the first 16-bit game console, a full two generations before it became the industry standard.

“This was a very rare opportunity to unite former competitors and bring together fans of Atari, Intellivision and the golden age of gaming,” said Wade Rosen, chairman and CEO of Atari.

Mike Mika, studio head at Digital Eclipse, an Atari-owned game studio, added, “Uniting Atari and Intellivision after 45 years ends the longest-running console war in history.”

Atari said it will seek to expand digital and physical distribution of legacy Intellivision games, as well as potentially create new games, and explore brand and licensing opportunities as part of “a long-term plan to create value from the Intellivision properties.:

“Atari has been a valuable partner and we have every confidence they will be a responsible steward of the storied Intellivision brand,” Phil Adam, CEO of Intellivision Entertainment, said in a statement. “We look forward to our expanded collaboration and the prospect of bringing a broad array of new titles to the Amico family gaming platform.”

To mark the deal, Atari is selling new Intellivision T-shirts starting Thursday on its website, “with more Intellivision apparel and collectibles to come.”

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