Skeet Shoot

Skeet ShootThe Game: Line up moving targets in your sights and blast ’em away. The more targets you hit, the more points you get. Simple enough, eh? Just don’t expect everything to travel in a straight line – and keep in mind that something like 80% of the time you won’t have a chance of hitting anything at all due to where you’re positioned. (Games By Apollo, 1981)

Memories: The 198384 crash of the home video game industry has often been blamed on an unstoppable tsunami wave of lousy games being produced by companies that had never before shown an interest in the field. Some pundits point at Activision‘s defeat of an Atari lawsuit – which claimed that third-party games would be unfair competition, as they alleged Activision‘s four principal programmers were using Atari trade secrets – as the first crack in the dam. And maybe they’re right. But at first, with Activision and Imagic releasing well-programmed, colorful, cutting edge and most of all fun games, it was all good – and Atari was still selling hardware, so how could they prove they’d lose out on the deal?

Skeet ShootBut maybe Games By Apollo was the real first crack in the dam. Where Activision and Imagic had been formed by former Atari game programmers who wanted royalties and public credit for their hard work, Apollo was the first third-party game maker to be formed by a speculator from outside the Silicon Valley circle. Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, Games By Apollo was the brainchild of Pat Roper, who started the company up and then sought out someone who could program games. He took the first programmer, teenager Ed Salvo, and the first program he could find, and voila, Skeet Shoot was born.

To say that the game was miserably low-tech when stacked up next to contemporary releases by Activision and Imagic would be charitable… extremely charitable. By comparison, Combat‘s graphics were high-resolution stuff.

To give Roper some credit, Apollo later turned out much better titles than Skeet Shoot, but the writing was also on the wall: A dimeyou could turn a real dog of a game loose on the market, and still make money.

It was the kind of thinking that would bring Atari, and everyone else in the video game business, to their knees in just a couple of years.

About Earl Green

I'm the webmaster and creator of theLogBook.com and its video game museum "sub-site", Phosphor Dot Fossils.
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