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How did licensing for Berzerk and Pole Position go down?


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     Something I've been pondering for years.  It seems unlikely that in the height of the console wars of the early 80's that Atari would have licensed a super popular title like Pole Position to a competing console maker, but they HAD to have done exactly that, since they owned both the arcade and home console rights.  How did this happen?  And what about Berzerk?  Atari had a home console license, but Stern made the arcade original...

     Maybe I haven't looked in the right places, but I've not been able to find any info about how GCE secured these titles for Vectrex.



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     That's right, I'd forgotten that.  So maybe GCE went to Namco, but Atari still had home console licenses for Pole Position and Berzerk, and I would've thought that these home console rights were exclusive for one company...Scramble, created by Konami and licensed by Stern for US distribution, was produced for the Vectrex, but not by any other home console and game manufacturer that I know of, and ditto for the Cinematronics titles like Star Castle, Armor Attack, etc.  Coleco didn't waste their Donkey Kong license, making cartridges for Atari and Intellivision systems, as well as an electronic table top.  With those things in mind, how did it come to be that there were two competing versions of Berzerk and Pole Position on the home console market? 

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I believe in that era, lots of companies were playing fast and loose with intellectual properties. A few companies, like Coleco, really began the process in earnest of licensing other games for their systems. Most developers just copied an idea and changed it just enough to get away with it being "something different".

There was still lots of discussion over whether the best protection of software was going to be with patents, copyrights, licenses, or whatever other mechanisms could be created. To sue based on IP was much more risky then, and more costly and there was less confidence in the consequences.

In addition, there was LOTS of development activity and much harder to keep up with everything being developed and marketed. It took a few years for all the lawyers to pile on to the gravy train.

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