Pepsi Invaders (erroneously identified as Coke Wins and Coke Invaders) is a 1983 fixed shooter video game developed and published by Atari, Inc. for the Atari 2600. A reskin of the system's version of Space Invaders, the player is tasked with shoot down a formation of enemies at the top of the screen, consisting of the letters used to spell Pepsi, under a three-minute timer with an unlimited number of lives. It is cited as an early example of an advertisement-themed video game.
Pepsi Invaders was commissioned by The Coca-Cola Company to be handed out to salesmen at their 1983 sales convention. While the intent of the game was to help boost the morale of the company's employees, many simply discarded it due to disinterest. Pepsi Invaders is known for being one of the rarest games produced for the Atari 2600 due to only 125 copies being distributed, typically commanding high prices on various online auction sites.
Concept and history
The game is a modification of Space Invaders, with each row consisting of the letters P E P S I followed by an alien, instead of the original six aliens. In addition, the game was changed from having limited lives but unlimited time as in the original Space Invaders, to having unlimited lives but a three-minute time limit in which to shoot as many of the enemies and complete as many levels as possible and the color of the floor was changed to the color of the soda Coca-Cola.
It was commissioned by The Coca-Cola Company to be handed out to executives at their 1983 sales convention alongside an Atari 2600 console, and developed by Atari as a modification of the original Space Invaders cartridge. Due to the original Space Invaders Atari 2600 developer Rick Maurer leaving Atari over payment issues, Atari tasked designer Christopher Omarzu with hacking the original. It was created with the intention of boosting the morale of Coca-Cola's employees. Most of the cartridges were discarded due to disinterest by their recipients. Pepsi Invaders has been mistakenly labelled Coke Wins and Coke Invaders, to the confusion of Omarzu.
Writer Matthew S. Eastin notes it as an early example of an "advergame" - an advertisement game - and discussed how it was more an attack on a competitor than an advertisement by the company who had it made. The Guardian included it in its list of the best product placement video games, similarly noting it as an early example of this and a "mischievous" marketing attempt. PCFormat felt the marketing was smart, comparing it to The Apprentice. Retro Gamer was critical of Pepsi Invaders due to the letters not moving downward as the ships do in Space Invaders.
The game was packaged in a black cartridge without a label, and only released at the 1983 sales convention, where it was given (along with an Atari 2600 console) to the 125 sales executives attending. It is now highly sought after by collectors, with copies selling for up to $1,825 on eBay.
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