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Pong (Game) 101: 12 Things To Know (Objective, Purpose,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

As one of the world’s favorite home entertainment systems, Atari developed a game called Pong in the 70s. Pong was first developed as an arcade game that became so popular it was turned into the home Pong version a few years later. Have you ever played Pong, and what do you know about it?

Pong by Atari is a single or multiplayer game first designed as an arcade game and later turned into a home console version. Pong remains one of the most played and popular games ever made by Atari; it has been copied multiple times without success and even dragged into a lawsuit. 

To find out everything about the purpose and objective of Atari’s Pong game, here are 12 facts about the game Pong you may not know:

1. Pong Wasn’t The First-Ever Arcade Game

Many people believe that Pong was the primary arcade game ever made, but it was not. Computer Space was the first-ever arcade game, released twelve months before the unveiling of Pong in 1971. 

Computer Space is an arcade-style game based on a rocket set in space that has to fight flying saucers. The rocket’s only ammunition is missiles.

A multitude of games was released in the 1960s. They were considered experimental, and one of those was Space Travel. It was released in 1969, while OXO was released in 1952.

Computer Space wasn’t as successful or significant as Pong. Nevertheless, the release of Computer Space launched the gaming industry as we know it.

2. Pong’s Release Should Not Have Taken Place

Ted Dabney and Noah Bushnell founded the company Atari. One of their primary employees, Allan Alcorn, was asked to try and develop a game, but since he lacked experience in the industry, it was more of a practice run which they omitted to tell him.  

Because of this covert training exercise, Alcorn was responsible for developing the game Pong. The owners of Atari saw that it was brilliant and immediately decided to manufacture and release it.

3. Pong Was One of The Most Successful Arcade Games

Because Pong was so successful, the gaming industry became extremely profitable and powerful. Over 8000 Atari arcade units were sold in the year the Pong was released.  

4. Pong Was the First-Ever Video Game Involved In A Lawsuit

Magnavox filed a copyright lawsuit against Atari in 1974. This lawsuit was a benchmark lawsuit in the gaming world. Magnavox proceeded to sue the imitators of Pong, such as Bally Midway, Allied Leisure, and Chicago Dynamics. Atari settled away from the courtroom to avoid the massive $1,5 million legal costs. 

The Magnavox Odyssey was the very first home console ever created. Even though Pong was very commercially successful, it was not the only thing they did first. And the success of Pong drew attention to the Inventor of Magnavox, Ralph Baer. 

Pong had a lot of similar features to the Magnavox Odyssey. This is why Magnavox sued.

5. Pong’s First Model Broke Down Quickly

Atari had so much confidence in their machine that they released it in a local bar but did not count on the machine to stop working so soon. It only lasted a few days, and that was due to an excessive amount of coins filling up the machine too fast. 

Although it took some time to figure out the issue, it was solved instantly upon finding out the machine couldn’t hold so many quarters. The machine was back in business in little time and making loads of money for Atari. 

6. Pong Was Pricey

Besides its huge popularity, Pong was expensive to play. Atari sold the Pong units for 3 times more than the base cost. To play Pong, you had to put in a quarter every time, which made it an expensive game. Other games like Pinball cost three times less.  

However, this didn’t prevent players from playing Pong. The machine would make roughly $40 a day, giving Atari a huge turnover daily. Other coin-operated gaming machines were making four times less per day. 

7. Atari Didn’t Want To Build Pong

After Pong was developed, Atari didn’t want to remain in the coin-operating gaming machine industry. They were more interested in licensing their game to make more money. They wanted a big conglomerate in manufacturing to produce the game.

Atari negotiated with Midway and Bally Manufacturing, respectively, and presented them with the Pong game. Bushnell decided against the licensing after the machine made so much money it broke down. Pong remained with Atari. 

8. Pong Was Often Cloned

Many companies like Chicago Dynamics, Bally Midway, and Allide Leisure made rip-offs of Pong since it was clear the game was massively popular and made Atari loads of cash. They never could get it quite right as Pong remained the firm favorite. 

9. Pong Was A Social Game

Because Pong could be played as a single or multiplayer game, it was very popular among friends. In a multiplayer setting, a player could play with only one hand, and this made Pong a social game. The players could play and have a drink or something to eat while enjoying the social time with friends. 

Players would play side to side, and many people became closer to one another playing pong. Many weddings took place because of players falling in love. 

10. Pong Influenced Pop-Culture

The most popular game of its time created the arcade golden age. It didn’t stop influencing the gaming world, as it naturally progressed into becoming the home gaming favorite. Atari released its home consoles, and Pong was a firm favorite for decades. 

The Home Pong game also suffered from rival gaming companies trying to clone it, but they could never really succeed.  

11. Pong Changed The World

It helped video games establish themselves as a lucrative industry. Pong is often seen as the first video game worldwide.

12. Pong As A Collector’s Item

Owning an Atari pong game that is still in very good condition can be worth a small fortune. 

What Exactly Is Pong (Game)?

Pong is one of the earliest released arcade games. Released in 1972 as a table tennis-themed arcade game. Pong was inspired by the sports ping-pong and became very popular. It became popular because the graphics responded to the user’s real-life reactions, making it easier and more fun to play. 

The game contains two lines on each side of the screen and a dashed straight line down the center of the screen that is served as a net and a square ball since the technology couldn’t make it have a round appearance. 

The lines on the side of the screen represent the player’s paddles which they would use to hit the ball at the opponent. 

Even though it was a simple game, Pong was extremely popular as an arcade game and an Atari home console system. The game’s goal was to get 11 points first by getting the ball past the opponent’s paddle. 

The game was thought of as advanced and ground-breaking since the ball reacted fast. Depending on the angle and force, the ball hit the paddle.

Pong was considered advanced because you could choose between playing against a computer or a friend. 

What’s The Purpose and Objective Of Pong (Game)

The game’s objective is for the individual player to hit the ball to their opponent’s side and get the ball to go past their paddle and gain a point. The ball is hit back and forth with the player’s paddle until someone gets the point. The game’s purpose is to win 11 points before the opponent does.

Last Word 

Pong only cost a few thousand dollars to develop from 1972 to 1975 when the home base model of Atari was released and would cost the consumer around $100 for a set. It is hard to determine if the developers knew how much they would revolutionize the home gaming/entertainment industry as we know it today.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.