In the 70s, there were already video games. But as you can imagine, at the time, we were on fairly basic games that have nothing to do with the AAA of our time.
Fifty years ago, games were mainly played on arcade terminals, which were experiencing their golden age. And it was at this time that one of the games that had the greatest impact on the industry was released: Pong!
The game, officially launched on November 29, 1972, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was one of the first arcade games. And although the days of arcade machines are far behind us, in 2022 you can still play Pong on your browser.
On November 29, 1972, #Atari presents PONG https://t.co/615u0IY6NG pic.twitter.com/dIxI9IyKpj
— dhennin manon (@DhenninManon) November 29, 2022
The story behind the creation of Pong
Pong is not the first video game. And there were already more sophisticated games back then. However, its commercial success means that today it is considered to have launched the industry.
Pong, Atari’s first product, is considered the world’s first commercially successful videogame.
📸: INTERFOTO/Alamy pic.twitter.com/ZP7RF2WITz
— WIRED (@WIRED) November 29, 2022
According to Engadget, Atari sold 8,000 arcade pong machines after its release in 1972. A few years later, 150,000 units of the home console version were sold.
In 2022, these sales would appear to be very low. But at the time, it was a huge success. And the income generated thanks to Pong allowed Atari to become a true giant of video games, later.
Yet Pong was born almost by chance. In a recent article, The Guardian quotes the game’s creator, Al Alcorn, as explaining how the idea came about.
At the time, Al Alcorn was a 24-year-old engineer, with no experience in video games, who worked for Atari. Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, wanted his engineer to practice and asked him to create “the simplest game possible”. He also allegedly made it look like it was an order from General Electric, which prompted Al Alcorn.
A game that was a hit thanks to its simplicity
And so Pong was born: a 2D game, very easy to play, which reproduces table tennis. Moreover, it is this simplicity that made the success of Pong. Indeed, to play it, people did not need to think too much. Another important element: it was multiplayer.
To test Pong with users, Atari installed a terminal in a bar. The success was immediate. The game was so popular with customers that the tokens blocked the machine.
Today, the release of Pong has become a historic moment for video games. And in March, a prototype of “Home Pong,” the home console version, sold for $270,000 at auction.
The Creator of the Pong Console Just Sold a Prototype at Auction for Over $270,000 https://t.co/L2PJniQXG4 pic.twitter.com/ZRhd0ad8oy
—Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) March 24, 2022