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Here's Why The Atari 7800 Was A Huge Failure

The Atari 7800 ProSystem, or Atari 7800 for short, is a video game console that was released by the Atari corporation way back in 1986. The Atari 7800 was expected to be the next major console of its time. The Atari 7800 was introduced to the public with the backward-compatibility function. The system did something that its predecessor, the Atari 5200, had not: it gave fans the ability to play their favorite Atari 2600 games on the latest system.


In addition to playing older games, the 7800 had other advantages. The newer game titles, such as Alien Brigade and Rampage, had a massive upgrade in the graphics department when compared to previous Atari consoles. The console was very budget-friendly too, which is a huge factor in how well a system performs — if a console is too expensive, then customers may turn and run.

The Atari 7800 was poised for success, so why exactly did the system fail?

It was late to the party

The Atari 7800 had a lot of catching up to do. By the time the system was released in 1986, the Nintendo Entertainment System had already made its way to the United States and Nintendo had made exclusive deals with multiple third-party developers. The Atari 7800 was left to scrounge whatever developers it could find, which resulted in a very limited library of new games.


The Atari 7800 was cheaper than both the NES and the Sega Master System, but the price point alone was just not enough to remain competitive. The NES and the Sega both blew the Atari 7800 out of the water in terms of performance and graphics. With such a small game library and outdated visuals, the 7800 was not only late to the party, but it simply couldn't compete. 

Fortunately for the Atari 7800, it was still able to sell approximately 3.7 million units in the United States from the years 1986-1990, proving that at least some Atari fans were still excited for it.