Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cover to Cover: SSI Summer 1986 Catalog (pp. 12-13)

We're paging through Strategic Simulations Inc.'s catalog circa Summer 1986, and coming down to the last few pages.

Pages 12 and 13 remind us how fragmented the computer gaming market was in the mid-1980s.  The Commodore 64 and Atari 400/800 (and newer 1200) computers were still going strong, the Atari ST, Amiga and original black-and-white Macintosh were available but not yet established as gaming platforms, the IBM PC and PCjr. were also new but already doing well, and the aging Apple II was still the most popular machine.  If a game was not available on the Apple II, serious sales potential was being overlooked.

Computer Baseball must have been tremendously popular, as it was among the first games ported to the new platforms, with Phantasie a close second.

SSI deserves credit for including the customer ratings in its catalog -- today, companies too often seem anxious to hide their products' shortcomings, but SSI solicited customer feedback and echoed it on these pages, with each game rated on Playability, Realism and Excitement.  As a means of comparative assessment for customers buying expensive games sight unseen, it was probably a useful marketing tool as well.

Tomorrow, the back cover and an ad for something not very SSI-related, but indicative of the state of the industry.

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