Saturday, September 28, 2019

Gaming Ads: Tengen

In 1984 there were two Atari companies, Atari Corporation which handled the home games and hardware, and Atari Games which managed the arcade business. Atari Games later decided it wanted to enter the console games market but couldn't use the Atari name so Tengen was created in 1986. Best known for its arcade ports, Tengen would develop and publish games for a variety of systems but it began with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) where it ran into a few problems. There is some contradiction on the order of things regarding two lawsuits with Nintendo. It appears the first legal battle is over the console rights to Tetris which both Tengen and Nintendo claimed to have had. Nintendo won in court and depending on the source, that led to the cancellation of the publishing contract Tengen had for the NES.

Tengen still wanted to make NES games but Nintendo had a lock-out chip built into cartridges as a way to prevent all publishers from releasing more than five NES games per year. Eventually Tengen did find a way around the lock-out but, of course, once it released unlicensed games, including a version of Tetris, Nintendo sued. Nintendo eventually won forcing Tengen to recall all of the unlicensed cartridges which was a significant financial loss. In 1993 Time Warner purchased a controlling stake in Atari Games and a year later the Tengen brand was discontinued.

Tengen albums: Facebook - Google Photos

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