The Top Ten Most Influential Video Game Consoles of All Time
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 21st Dec 2011
(5) Commodore International -- C=64
(2nd Gen January 1982)
While there are some who would argue that the C=64 does not belong on this list because it is a computer -- during its lifetime its sales totaled over 17 million units, making it the best-selling single personal computer model of all time -- in addition to the disc-based games that would eclipse the cartridge-based games later, the fact that it was a game console that used cartridge-based games is enough to justify including it here.
While the C=64 has many significant contributions to its credit, its most significant (and least sung) praise is its establishment and popularization of the game demo system that is now an industry standard today for PC and Console gaming!
Before the C=64, games were positioned to be sold based upon marketing materials and advertising -- the idea of giving gamers a few levels to play for free so that they could judge for themselves whether the cost of the game was personally justified was simply unheard of.
While the demo trend that the C=64 established was an important positive contribution to the industry, it is also credited with a major negative contribution as well. The plethora of bad games was considered to be half of the cause of the crash, but there is and was considerable speculation that the other half can be directly attributed to the results of the aggressive pricing of the C=64, which is thought to have served as a major catalyst in the North American video game crash of 1983.
Before we talk about a significant first for the C=64 there is one other major blight that it can claim -- and that is still with us today -- and that is its use as a vehicle for the distribution of cracked game software.
The release of the Commodore Modem for the C=64 and a few additional 1541 drives made the system a perfect candidate for running BBS software, and the growth of the Computer Bulletin Board System trend throughout the 1980's (what "online" meant before the Internet went commercial in the '90's) ironically also server as the core path that cracked games took to distribution.
In 1984, Commodore released the SX-64, a portable version of the C=64 that was the first full-color portable computer and gaming console commercially released, but that is a minor footnote compared to the next major contribution that this fusion of PC and console made.
Today online gaming is a well-established billion dollar industry, and it is largely lead by Microsoft's Xbox LIVE and Sony's PlayStation Network -- but back in the day when you were into online gaming, you were doing it on your C=64, and more often than not you were going online with Quantum Link (or Q-Link), playing on Rabbit Jack's Casino and romping through the first MMO, a Dungeons and Dragons game called Neverwinter Nights that would later feature prominently on the online gaming service after it transitioned to supporting the PC when Commodore lost the PC war.
As it transitioned to the PC, Q-Link also changed its name and brand, becoming America Online (AOL!) -- but the success of Q-Link and its niche platform (the C=64) served as proof in concept that a console-based online gaming service could not only be profitable, but would be popular. We owe the C=64 major kudos for paving the way to what we now enjoy today as our preferred online games destinations -- LIVE and PSN!