Anyone who has played video games in the 8 or 16-bit era remembers a genre that has since become the black sheep of 3D gaming culture: the platformer. Platformers made up a huge percentage of all console games and arcades of the day, and would all be started by one game in particular, that put it’s highly pixilated main character through every kind of death trap imaginable.
Pitfall was put out by Activision in 1982, and although the company had quite a few of successes before this, Pitfall was a tremendous hit for the company on the Atari 2600, and throughout the 80’s in general. Clones were quickly manufactured almost as soon as the game launched. Other Activision earlier games included KABOOM!, Chopper Command, and Ice Hockey.
In order to understand the importance of Activision’s role in gaming, it’s better to think about what the industry would have been like if they never existed. Mario would probably have never come along to save the failing market in 85’ and go on to sell tens of millions of copies. Simon Belmont would never have taken up his whip to defeat Dracula. Mega Man could have very well been made into a top down shooter, and Ryu Hyabusa may have never started his gap jumping, ninja-flipping quest for revenge.
The face of video games would have been altered forever, or even worse, the entire concept may have died back in 1983 like it was supposed to according to the so called experts. Yikes! Thankfully, Pitfall does exist, and the videogame industry may have avoided an abyss of endless black thanks to Harry and his vine swinging, cliff hanging, action packed adventures.
Activision has become more of a powerhouse publisher in recent years, snagging up young and talented individuals and companies from all over the world. The list of quality games these people are creating with the help of Activision is amazing. However, the lack of a truly lengthy library prevents them from making this list on their own. Until true independence can be established, they’ll just have to keep their current position under the corporate thumb.
A perfect example of this would be Infinity Ward, the ammunition behind the extreemly successful WWII Shooter Series, Call of Duty. The campaigns are fast paced, in your face, and laced with authenticity throughout. Next moth, the series abandons the WWII era making the move to Modern Warfafe with the release of the highly anticipated Call of Duty 4.
Neversoft is home to the genius that is Tony Hawk, the number one gaming franchise which has dominated the digital skating market for years. And Raven, was the creative force that gave us Hexen II, the Soldier of Fortune series, Quake 4, and the phenomenal 2002 title, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.
You can even become a rock god with Harmonix’ Guitar Hero. But could any of these companies make a top ten list on their own two legs? The answer is no. So, instead our number ten spot will belong to the mighty conglomerate that is Activision. So the first developer on our top ten list doesn’t develop anymore? Well, not exactly…
Activision, no matter how you look at it, has changed the face of gaming. Its development of the seminal game Pitfall would single handedly create a genre, save an industry, and pave the way for future innovators. Their acquisition and absorption of talented developers continues to set bar for quality software, and their role in that equation cannot be denounced. Also, the games being churned out by Activision and its developers continue to shape the next generation of gaming. Today, video games are a 6.2 billion dollar business. Activision is one of the few companies you have to thank for that. You’re welcome.
Pitfall (Atari 2600)
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (GBA)