Activision vs. Atari

What's the Difference?

Activision and Atari are both prominent companies in the video game industry, but they have distinct differences. Activision, founded in 1979, is known for its modern and popular game franchises like Call of Duty, Destiny, and World of Warcraft. The company has a strong focus on high-quality graphics, immersive gameplay, and online multiplayer experiences. On the other hand, Atari, established in 1972, is considered a pioneer in the gaming industry, responsible for iconic games like Pong and Asteroids. While Atari has a rich history and nostalgic appeal, it struggled to adapt to the changing market and faced financial difficulties. In recent years, Atari has shifted its focus to mobile and online gaming, aiming to revive its brand. Overall, Activision and Atari have different approaches and legacies in the gaming world, catering to different generations of gamers.


Year Founded19791972
FoundersDavid Crane, Alan Miller, Bob Whitehead, Larry KaplanNolan Bushnell, Ted Dabney
HeadquartersSanta Monica, California, United StatesParis, France
Notable GamesCall of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk's Pro SkaterPong, Asteroids, Centipede
Current StatusActiveInactive (brand owned by Atari Interactive)

Further Detail


When it comes to the history of video games, two names stand out as pioneers in the industry - Activision and Atari. Both companies have played a significant role in shaping the gaming landscape, but they have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the key differences between Activision and Atari, exploring their history, game development approach, impact on the industry, and their current standing in the gaming market.


Atari, founded in 1972, is widely regarded as one of the first companies to bring video games into the mainstream. They introduced iconic arcade games like Pong and Asteroids, which became instant hits. Atari's success continued with the release of the Atari 2600 console, which revolutionized home gaming. However, due to various factors, including the video game crash of 1983, Atari faced financial difficulties and eventually faded from the limelight.

On the other hand, Activision, founded in 1979, emerged as the first independent third-party video game developer. They gained recognition by creating games for the Atari 2600, but what set them apart was their approach to game development. Unlike Atari, which relied on in-house developers, Activision encouraged individual game designers to receive credit and royalties for their work. This innovative approach attracted top talent and allowed Activision to produce high-quality games.

Game Development Approach

Atari's game development approach was centered around simplicity and accessibility. They focused on creating games that were easy to pick up and play, appealing to a wide audience. Atari's games often featured simple mechanics and graphics, but they were addictive and fun. This approach worked well during the early days of gaming when the industry was still in its infancy.

Activision, on the other hand, took a more sophisticated approach to game development. They aimed to push the boundaries of what was possible in terms of graphics, gameplay, and storytelling. Activision's games often featured complex narratives, advanced graphics for the time, and innovative gameplay mechanics. This approach resonated with gamers who were looking for more immersive experiences.

Impact on the Industry

Atari's impact on the gaming industry cannot be overstated. They were instrumental in popularizing video games and bringing them into the mainstream. Atari's success paved the way for the home console market, inspiring other companies to enter the industry. However, Atari's downfall during the video game crash of 1983 had a significant negative impact on the industry as a whole. It led to a decline in consumer confidence and a temporary halt in video game production.

Activision, on the other hand, played a crucial role in revitalizing the industry after the crash. Their commitment to quality and innovation helped restore consumer trust in video games. Activision's success also inspired other third-party developers to enter the market, leading to increased competition and a wider variety of games for players to enjoy. Today, Activision is one of the largest and most successful video game publishers in the world.

Current Standing in the Gaming Market

Atari, despite its historical significance, has struggled to regain its former glory. The company has gone through multiple ownership changes and faced financial difficulties. In recent years, Atari has focused on licensing its brand and developing mobile games, but they have yet to make a significant impact in the modern gaming market. However, with the upcoming release of the Atari VCS console, there is renewed interest in the company's future.

Activision, on the other hand, has continued to thrive in the gaming market. They have a diverse portfolio of successful franchises, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch. Activision consistently releases high-quality games that appeal to a wide range of players, from casual gamers to hardcore enthusiasts. They have also embraced the rise of esports, organizing competitive gaming events and supporting professional teams.


In conclusion, while both Activision and Atari have left a lasting impact on the gaming industry, they have distinct attributes that set them apart. Atari's early success and contribution to popularizing video games cannot be overlooked, but their downfall during the video game crash of 1983 hindered their long-term success. Activision, on the other hand, emerged as a pioneer in third-party game development, focusing on innovation and quality. Their commitment to pushing the boundaries of gaming has allowed them to remain relevant and successful in the modern gaming market. As the industry continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how both companies adapt and shape the future of gaming.

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