Imagic

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For the company formerly known as iMagic Online, see IEntertainment Network. For the company known as I-Magic, see Interactive Magic.
Imagic
Former type Private
Industry Interactive entertainment
Fate Liquidation
Founded 1981
Defunct 1986
Headquarters Los Gatos, California, United States
Key people Bill Grubb
Bob Smith
Rob Fulop

Imagic was a short-lived American video game developer and publisher that developed games for the Atari 2600, Intellivision and other video game consoles in the early 1980s. Founded in 1981 by Atari and Mattel Intellivision expatriates, its best-selling titles included Atlantis, Cosmic Ark, Demon Attack,[1] and billiards game Trick Shot.

History[edit]

Prior to 1981, software for video game consoles was published exclusively by the makers of the systems for which the games were designed. For example, Atari was the only publisher of games for the Atari 2600. This was particularly galling to the developers of the games, as they received no extra money for games that sold well, and no credit for their games. Some Atari game designers left to join or form third-party game publishers for game consoles. Activision was the first,[2] and Imagic was the second.

Imagic founders included Bill Grubb, Bob Smith and Denis Koble from Atari, Inc.,[3] Jim Goldberger and Brian Dougherty from Mattel,[4] as well as Mark Bradley and Rob Fulop[3][1] from Atari.[3]

Despite initial success and sales greater than projections, the company's fortunes reversed after the stock market dumped videogame stocks in late 1982, scuttling Imagic's initial plan to become a publicly traded company.[5]

Comparison with Activision[edit]

Imagic's cartridges were easily recognizable due to their peculiar shape.

Imagic was similar to Activision in many ways; they used a distinctive and easily recognizable style of cartridge housing (which included the company name embossed in the plastic), offered patches to players who sent in proof of a high score, and were renowned in the Atari community for featuring a high standard of audiovisual design in their games. Also like Activision, they were sued by Atari; the industry giant sued Imagic over Demon Attack because of its resemblance to Phoenix,[6] to which Atari had the exclusive home-version rights. The case was settled out of court, and Demon Attack went on to be ported to more consoles and home computers than any other game of its time.[citation needed] Unlike Activision, who had a policy that games should look/play the same on all consoles, Imagic believed that games should take advantage of a console's strengths.[citation needed]

Fan club[edit]

During its height, Imagic also ran a fan club for their games, the Numb Thumb Club, which published an annual newsletter.[7] Only two issues were published before Imagic's demise in 1983.[7]

Unreleased games[edit]

Several prototypes of unreleased Imagic games have been discovered in recent years by gamers; probably the most famous of these is Cubicolor, a two-player puzzle game loosely based on a combination of a Rubik's Cube and "fifteen puzzle", that was completed but never officially released before Imagic's demise. Approximately 60 cartridges exist and most are signed and numbered by the original programmer, Rob Fulop. Cubicolor is one of the most rare and valuable games for the Atari 2600.

Non-Atari releases[edit]

Imagic also released games for the Mattel Intellivision, ColecoVision, Texas Instruments TI-99/4A, IBM PCjr, and Magnavox Odyssey². Their two Odyssey² games (ports of Demon Attack and Atlantis) were the only third party releases for that system in America. Unusual for a video game publisher of this time, Imagic's Intellivision library relied more on original games (Beauty & the Beast, Dracula, Microsurgeon, Truckin', Ice Trek) than Atari ports, and even their ports were generally more advanced, both graphically and in terms of gameplay, than their Atari counterparts.

Demise[edit]

Although Imagic grew quickly in its early years, it was irreparably harmed by the video game crash of 1983. It released 24 titles before going out of business by 1986, but the exact time it disbanded remains largely a mystery, however in 1983 they did layoff 40 of their 170 employees.[8] The rights to Imagic's most popular titles have been owned by Activision since the late 1980s, and they have been re-released on several occasions.

Notable titles[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]