While flipping through back issues of CGW for my post, I’m Amazed, I came across an interesting piece in the March-April 1983 issue.

It was the “Inside The Industry” department, and it began with this sentence:

Last issue we listed almost 400 different new game software titles that were released in 1982.

That is an astonishing number of releases for a time in which computers were nowhere near as widespread as they are today. And the list did not include ports from one system to another. It’s likely there were more – maybe much more – as well.

CGW sent surveys to over 150 computer game software publishers, regarding their games released in 1982. 150! How many are there today?

Of the companies surveyed, 69 never replied, 6 had no new releases, one was out of business, and one had gotten out of game publishing. The remaining 81 sent in their lists, which totaled 394 games.

If we allow that that the non-responders had at least one or two games each, then we’re looking at close to 500 games showing up in 1982. Where did stores find room for all those?

Of course, many probably came and went without a lot of notice or fanfare. The article points out that 20% of the companies responding had published almost half the games released the previous year.

Leading the pack was Avalon Hill, with 22 games. A company today is lucky if it can get out one game in two years. And AH put out mainly strat/war products, not cheap rip-off clones of Pac-Man or Space Invaders.

Yes, all these games were designed to run in 48K RAM. And yes, the graphics are primitive. For all that, the flood of product for just one year is staggering to contemplate.

Prices weren’t cheap, either, especially for “A” titles. Galactic Adventures: $59.95. Ultima II, ditto. Wizardry: $49.95. Most other games were in the $39-$59 range.

When you think about it, price hasn’t changed a lot. Which is a bit peculiar, when you consider how much more goes into a “big” game today. So either we were being overcharged then or are being undercharged now ;)

This incredible glut of product does show that games were very popular way back when. It also shows why the “big shake-out” later in the decade happened.

Too many games, not enough gamers to support them. Especially not at those fancy prices. And, of course, many of those titles were forgettable even before they appeared on the shelves.

Still, it’s sad to consider how much computer game releases have shrunk, now that there are so many more people to play the games. Then again, perhaps the “casual boom” will change that a little. Whatever “casual” is supposed to mean these days.