I thought I’d show off a different sort of ad this time around. Back in the eighties, EA was one of the home entertainment juggernauts that ruled the silicon kingdom and it wasn’t only because of one franchise. They had a large number of titles out on the market catering to almost every genre imaginable. Hard to believe, but absolutely true.
In ’86, they ran this particular ad below that offered a killer deal on their classic titles – buy one game, and get another of these free. And this was a great selection to pick from covering things like basketball to building your own pinball table.
EA was also big on “construction set” titles at the time. If you wanted to compose music, there was the Music Construction Set. Pinball? The Pinball Construction Set. You want to create a deadly track for racers? Get your Deathrace on with the Racing Destruction Set. Decades before “The Movies”, animated .gifs, or Flash, EA gave everyone a golden sprite-based ticket with Movie Maker.
Other classics were also there such as M.U.L.E. and Archon. If you wanted to flex the conquistador in your bones, go forth and pillage the New World in Seven Cities of Gold. After trading trinkets with the natives, go one on one with Dr. J & Larry Bird. When all of the fun was over, balance your finances with the Financial Cookbook. EA was an octopus made of floppy disks in those days.
It’s hard to believe how much has changed over the years as they’ve narrowed their focus on a few key franchises. Looking back at an ad like this during the heyday of PC gaming brings a small tear to my inner hard floppy drive.
In many ways, an ad like this was representative of the freewheeling development atmosphere of the time – garage devs weren’t unheard of, running a business from your bedroom and mailing out disks wasn’t something looked down on, and software branched out far and wide to realize as many possibilities.
Today, that spirit still lives on with indies while larger companies such as EA have settled on multimillion dollar budgets and specific titles than a shotgun explosion hitting as many genres as possible.
And buy one, get one free? I’d like to see EA do something like that again instead of leaving it to Gamestop’s used game bins.