Date

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

History

First Adviser

Smith, John K.

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the emergence and evolution of the American home video game industry between 1972 and 1992. The goal is to assess what happened in the new industry during its formative years and why. Through an analysis of corporate marketing and product development strategies as well as an examination of changing consumer attitudes, evidence supporting the following observation emerges clearly: in the home video game industry, the fact that no company remained in a leadership position for long led to significant problems for all firms involved. Leaders rose to the top and then retreated time and again.The ongoing struggle between competing firms created an environment of persistent instability, consumer uncertainty, and recurrent market collapses. The drive for product-line diversification, especially for firms whose core competencies lay outside of consumer electronics, complicated the industry’s development. Inefficiencies tied to production also inhibited the ability of firms to assume long-standing market control. First-mover advantages proved short-lived and often created counterproductive situations for the initial leaders. In addition, the recovery of the industry in the mid-1980s following a devastating market crash coincided with the increasing adoption of low-cost home computers. These factors, taken together, created a volatile and uncertain home video game marketplace.

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