Atari Acquires Intellivision Ending Longstanding Retro Console Rivalry

Atari logo on a red background next to the Intellivision logo on a blue background.
Today the console wars are largely fought between Microsoft (Xbox One X|S) and Sony (PlayStation 5), and you can throw Nintendo (Switch) in there as well. But arguably the first console skirmish of real significance took place several decades ago, with Atari and Intellivision duking it out. Now over 40 years later, the former rivals just became best buds with the former acquiring the latter. Well, parts of it—the upcoming Amico console is not part of the deal.

Instead, Atari announced it is buying the Intellivision brand along with certain games from Intellivision Entertainment LLC. Meanwhile, Intellivision Entertainment LLC will rebrand itself while it continues to work towards developing and releasing the Amico, which was actually supposed to be released back in 2020. Apparently the Amico project is not dead in the water, and as part of the deal, Atari gets a license to release games for the upcoming console (when and if it does actually get released).

"Uniting Atari and Intellivision after 45 years ends the longest-running console war in history," said Mike Mika, Studio Head at Digital Eclipse, an Atari-owned game studio.

Atari made its biggest splash with the launch of its Atari 2600 console back in 1977. While primitive by today's standards, the Atari 2600 was a hot item back in the day, selling tens of millions of consoles throughout its lifespan. The Atari brand today is not the same as it was back then, having changed hands multiple times starting with the infamous video game crash of the early to mid 1980s.

Intellivision console on a gray gradient background.
Source: Evan-Amos / Vanamo Media (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

Meanwhile, Mattel released the Intellivision in 1979, and while it didn't sell as many units as the Atari 2600, it sold enough to emerge as the first serious rival to Atari's dominance. It was also the technologically superior console, in terms of its hardware and capabilities.

As part of the deal to acquire Intellivision, Atari gains access to more than 200 retro games. Atari could also potentially release new Intellivision games now that it owns the Intellivision brand and its trademarks.

"This was a very rare opportunity to unite former competitors and bring together fans of Atari, Intellivision and the golden age of gaming," said Wade Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Atari.

Black and white Intellivision t-shirts on a gray background.

There are no immediate game announcements, though Atari is already putting the brand acquisition into play by selling Intellivision t-shirts in black and white priced at $28 a pop. Atari says it plans on releasing more Intellivision apparel and collectibles as well, but didn't elaborate.