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What Did Atari Games Cost When They First Came Out?

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Do you know someone who remembers playing Atari? Maybe you have struggled to find just exactly how much Atari games cost back in the day? Well, continue reading this article for more information on the history of Atari, and how much the games used to cost. 

So, what did Atari games cost when they first came out?

The cost of Atari games varied quite a bit but in general the games normally cost somewhere between $20-$30 However, you must consider that $20-$30 then, is not the same as it is today. $20-$30 then, would be between $100-$120 today!

So while $20-$30 may not sound expensive, it was considered quite expensive in that time. 

If you would like to learn more about the history of Atari, and how it was created, you will definitely want to keep reading. 

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When was Atari founded? 

The first consoles were released on September 11, 1977, when the company launched its brand as Atari Video computer systems. This was short-lived and in 1982 they relaunched with the new rebranded Atari 2600.

At this time the technology was unprecedented, Atari used microprocessors in their consoles and this was something that had never been used before. The games for this system were stored on ROM cartridges or if you didn’t want to purchase the cartridges, there were also standard games that were built into the hardware of the console. The console came with two joysticks to use as controllers. These were coupled with a pair of paddle controllers and a game cartridge that was originally Combat. Later, Pacman was introduced as an option as well. 

The Atari VCS was released with 9 simple games built into the console. These were low-resolution 2KIB games that included their version of Space Invaders in 1980 and because it was so popular, it opened the gate for sister companies like Matel and it even led to the very successful launch of Activision. 

This was widely controversial at the time though, as there were already nine games built into the console. But if you wanted the newest games there was an option to purchase the cartridges separately. These were not cheap by any means and were considered an unnecessary commodity. 

The Atari brand did well in the late ’70s and even through the ’80s. The Atari company then decided to participate in partnerships with 3rd party game developers to create a more advanced gaming experience. The controls were more advanced and the graphics were slightly better. 

The Atari was by no means the only console on the market but it was the one that was popularized by the company owners. These games paved the way for the gaming systems today.  

So who is the mastermind that brought gaming to the commercial world?

Who founded Atari?  

The two founders of the Atari company were Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. They met whilst working at Ampex and quickly discovered they had shared interests such as the gaming pizza parlor that Bushnell had envisioned. This sparked an interest in Dabney and he took him to the lab at Stanford Artificial intelligence to see the games and how they worked. By the end of the tour, they both had a conceptualized idea in their mind about how the future could be and how these systems could be at every pizza parlor the world over. 

Before the home console was released Atari founders and creators first had to see if this was, in fact, a viable mode of entertainment. The vision that they conceptualized in the lab at Stanford only grew. The two founders moved swiftly to build and create their vision of the gaming pizza parlor. The original idea consisted of a standing machine with a monitor and controls that accepted coins so that patrons could play on these machines. 

What impact did they have on gaming as we know it?

What did it take? 

How did they make it work? 

The founders of the future Atari company partnered with associates to get the components built for their arcade machines. Dabney figured out a way to use video circuitry components to mirror the functions of a computer for a lot less. So these circuit boards were cheaper, as well as space-efficient. 

Bushnell and Dabney used this to develop a variation of Spacewar called Computer Space. These games were not as popular when they first launched as they were originally complex for the average user. 

The Atari company has an amazing story and a colourful history that are riddled with triumphant successes and defeating lows but one thing is for certain, this technology was the beginning of a new and exciting era called console gaming. 

How did Atari decline? 

Atari was on the rise and was trying to dominate the market. They began branching out and sought new ideas for the games. Pac-Man developed from this and even though the game itself had some issues, it was still ultimately successful and sold 10 million copies. 

With such success in their pockets, Atari embarked on selling the E.T. game to be timed with the release of the movie. Although they had high hopes for sales, they ultimately sold a quarter of what they originally estimated, leading to quite a large loss. Atari continued to not reach their sales expectations, and investors were expecting more growth. When Atari revealed that they were short of their growth expectations by a significant amount, stockholders were not happy. 

This led to investors pulling out of the company and Atari began its final descent into oblivion. They tried to pick themselves back up, but could not even find a buyer for the company. Eventually, in 1985, Atari was sold, but the video game market had crashed. Atari went in a different direction and under its new direction shied away from video game creation and home console development. In 1986, the video game world was beginning to reappear. Nintenedo had just released their new entertainment system, and Atari tried to redesign their initial model and offered it at a cheaper price. This helped keep Atari afloat until the company eventually stopped making consoles in 1992. 

Whether or not you like gaming and are interested in the history of this craft, it is difficult to write an article without mentioning this iconic gaming console. While the cartridges were quite overpriced, the machine itself was a great investment. These iconic games include Pacman and the first Combat game was released with the console. 

Gaming has since come a long way. 

If you enjoy your Xbox or Playstation you can thank the founders of the AtariVSC for their contributions to the gaming industry. Many people love gaming and have since they were a child.We can thank these founders for their contributions to the gaming industry for without them, the gaming world would most likely not look the way it does now.  


Atari gaming really made an impression on the gaming world with its development of home consoles. While the games themselves may not seem very expensive, during that time, they were definitely not cheap. Atari revolutionized the way home consoles are developed, even today, and its founders paved the way for gaming companies that have come after them.

 While Atari gaming systems are still around, they are considered vintage today and there is not as much demand for the older consoles as Atari has released a large number of flashback consoles in recent years that include many of the older games and they are available for quite cheap as well. 

You can read the reviews on the Atari Flashback on Amazon by clicking here