The Video Game Crash of 1983: Crash Course Games #6



So the 1980s was the golden age of arcade games. Games like Donkey Kong, Pac- Man, Space Invaders, and Centipede had become a cultural phenomenon. These games had expanded the gamer demographic and even encouraged the rise of competitive gaming. There were also many innovations in the home console and computer market with deeper and longer games like Pitfall and Castle Wolfenstein. Suddenly, you could play a game for much longer than your single quarter could get you on an arcade machine. So the video game industry was booming, but it had also become a sort of Wild West and everyone from Purina to Quaker wanted to get into the action. With these new creators came a glut of choices, and to remain competitive Atari began rushing games to market resulting in some truly terrible games. Gamers started to lose confidence in the industry and then in 1983 the gaming industry in the United States crashed.

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38 Comments

  • So basically what it was companies were competing against each other for money and they just rushed the production of new games since they rushed it against didn’t meet the expectations of players

    98 Jacobson
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • anyone see the polybius arcade machine was out of order

    The Phoenix
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • 1:00 Is it just me or is that 18.5 dollars per second???

    jon mor
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Say, did you do the console wars?

    Ellis Miller
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • when I was Your Age … our controllers only had 1 fire button … and we were grateful to have it

    Boris
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • I noticed Polybius out of order

    Heather Sinbela
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • ET is not terrible, the licensing deal they made was terrible. The game is pretty good. Considering the short development time, that game is probably one of the best produced in so short a time. Quit perpetuating the ET is a bad game myth.

    J&J Digital Video Solutions LLC
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Andre is that you?

    Amazing Spiderman Fan 2002
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • 1980s gamers: We want a real challenge

    Flappy Bird enter the chat

    Bender Bending Rodriguez
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • That Commodore 64 looks more like a Commodore ViC-20. It has a white case while the C64 was more brown.

    Deacon Cole
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • I can tell just by looking at you that you never played videogames in the 80s

    oo oo
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Surprisingly interesting and unexpected course. Unfortunately it doesn't cover ZX Spectrum games. Thank you, Crash Course!

    Anton Novikov
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Lol the polybius out of order

    Hayden Ringgold
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • This is like an anthem for the modern gaming industry!

    Clark Flavor
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • There was no video game crash of 1983. It was a console crash that was largely confined to America. Firstly the computer he points to is a VIC-20 not a Commodore 64 (you can tell by the color of the function keys on the right. VIC-20 had light brown and Commodore 64 grey function keys) and at least he references the emergence of 8 bit microcomputers like the Commodore 64 (and the VIC-20).

    The Commodore 64 was released in late 1982 and by 1983 was selling in record numbers and the Apple IIe was released in early 1983. See the timing? Home computers like the Commodore 64 and Apple IIe made the Atari 2600 look like trash. In 1984 my dad bought a Commodore 64 and I barely played my Atari 2600 again. I also had a copy of E.T. on Atari and it never caused me to stop playing the Atari.

    This is just another example of the internet perpetuating myths through people repeating falsehoods and creating new narratives not based in fact.

    bongo155
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • How sneaky, crash course. You included polybius in your arcade snippets.

    Tigarion
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • I teach a middle school video game coding class. These videos are great. Any chance you'll be updating or adding more? Thanks.

    BrentonKJ
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • A mobile gaming crash can't happen soon enough!

    FlyfishermanMike
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • John Green, you look different.

    George-Alene Smith
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • There were a lot of gaming consoles and I had a fair share. The atari, coleco vision, commodore vic 20 and the shared a lot of games. I remember going to the odd lots stores and buying many for a $1. I got tired of it all but the nes renewed my interest again in 1988. Later in 1992 I became a pc gamer.

    One4All All4One
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • you guys must thank to me, this video games today are pretty tough!
    if I weren't made, video games soon to be DEAD

    Fake Furry
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Et went boom

    Adam Palmer
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • im 12
    i know the old days lel bout eletronics
    doom
    dos
    windows
    blah blah blah you get it

    Doge Hacking GAMING
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Well well well here we are going into 2019 and I can see another one happening soon with all these damn trash micro transactions and trash games and people are finally speaking with their wallet. And finally standing up to these greedy devs.

    Eduardo Delgado
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Good video but you UNDERESTIMATE the power of the 8 bit computers. In 83 and 84 consoles were struggling but the good ol Commodore 64 was THRIVING and that was HERE in the US!!

    MultiScooter68
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • This is gonna happen again

    MoparJon
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • When a slice of cheese is the first major video game character

    LawsonStudios
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Lol I can’t believe you actually had a secret Easter egg that almost nobody knows about you showed your animation of the arcade but you actually put Polybius in it.

    Retro Collector
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • your not funny. it so clear that your trying to appeal and your failing

    King Jibble
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Great clip. I grew up w/ the 2600 & ColecoVision. Owning them was a catch-22. It was more convenient to play than going to the arcade but the console versions of games weren't even close to the originals.

    Steve Pak
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • My favorite arcade game is Donkey Kong.

    King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is the documentary that best describes Donkey Kong’s high score competition between Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe.

    Who else has heard in the news recently Mitchell was banned by Twin Galaxies for cheating his high score on Donkey Kong using MAME. He’s not the ultimate arcade king anymore.

    Also am glad recently Nintendo has FINALLY put their arcade classics for download on the Switches “Arcade Archives” so now I don’t have to play the weak NES ports of Donkey Kong, Popeye, Mario Bros. anymore. Guessing Nintendo did this to finally fight off emulation of their arcade roms which have been pirated for around 37 years now. Although I still enjoy emulating Donkey Kong since I can’t afford a switch lol.

    Also am disappointed Nintendo has taken down major rom sites recently like Loveroms.

    Also think the ET landfill has been debunked, there was little ET stuff dug up so there’s little evidence for the former claims.

    Henry Tetreault
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Wow, being a kid in the 80's must be great. Top bad I was born some 30 years later.😞 Well at least we got better looking games and not as much craziness. Although I'd still kill to play all of the classics.

    TheYoutubeWizard 112
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • A contributing factor this video doesn't mention is retail glut. Retailers were massively overordering games from the manufacturers, who were required at the time to accept unsold returns and eat the loss. The smaller 3rd party companies simply couldn't take the hit, and the dominoes began to fall, beginning with Data Age (who deserved it) and eventually destroying companies like Imagic (who DIDN'T deserve it).

    Kenton Cernea
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • And Atari is still garbage to this day. Now their issue is not rushing products, but strangling people with their patents in a misguided attempt to hold on to their licenses. A lesson they "learned" from their early years with the Atari 2600. It has made them hated by the crowd of the older generation who should be feeling nostalgia, not dejection. This attitude has actually killed their games forever when they shut down sites dedicated to perseving games that they (Atari) can no longer afford to support with their meager budget.

    Thecommander248
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Gage me with a spoon lol

    SnakeDude
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • That was a commodore VIC-20

    Anthony Herrera
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Puck man

    Sathya narayanan
    Posted July 30, 2020
  • Ttttttttllllloiooooolllllllll crash bandicoot suck

    Sathya narayanan
    Posted July 30, 2020

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