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Atari ends one of the oldest console wars by acquiring Intellivision

An Atari 2600+ joystick sits on a table.
Giovanni Colantonio / Digital Trends

In a move that ends one of the video game industry’s oldest rivalries, Atari announced on Thursday that it has purchased parts of Intellivision Entertainment for an undisclosed sum.

“Uniting Atari and Intellivision after 45 years ends the longest-running console war in history,” said Digital Eclipse head Mike Mika. (Digital Eclipse is owned by Atari.)

The deal means Atari now owns the rights to more than 200 Intellivision titles, along with the branding. It’ll be working on ways to distribute the games and might possibly develop new ones. Atari won’t be completely acquiring the other company though. An Atari press release says that the company currently known as Intellivision will rebrand and continue work on the Intellivision Amico — a console that was announced in 2018 and still hasn’t been released, but sort of exists as an app in beta on iOS and Android.

The Amico’s development has been less than ideal. It was supposed to be released in 2020 and has been delayed numerous times. An Ars Technica article also found that a lot of Intellivision’s claims about the console were fabricated. Plus, Intellivison’s president, Tommy Tallarico, has a bizarre reputation thanks in no small part to an Hbomberguy video from 2023.

Before Nintendo versus Sega became the defining console war, the Intellivision went up against the Atari 2600 starting in the late 1970s. The war wasn’t exclusive, as there were other competing consoles like the ColecoVision, but the Intellivision marketing was all about how advanced it was compared to the Atari 2600. You might recall the ads in the 1980s starring actor and writer George Plimpton, which directly compared the two consoles and showed off the detail in Intellivision games compared to similar games running on the 2600.

Intellivision vs. Atari Commercial - "I Didn't Know" (1981)

However, Atari is a much more well-known brand in 2024, and the 2600 also has a lasting legacy thanks to its ability to use swappable ROM cartridges.

These days, Atari keeps itself alive by selling merchandise with its branding on it and updated versions of its old consoles. It’s also entered into many deals over the past couple of years, acquiring the aforementioned Digital Eclipse, reviving the old Infogrames brand to publish games, and purchasing Nightdive Studios, makers of the recent System Shock remake.

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Carli Velocci
Carli is a technology, culture, and games editor and journalist. They were the Gaming Lead and Copy Chief at Windows Central…
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