If you were a child of the late 1970s or early 1980s, the chances are that your number one desire was to own a games console. The one to have was the Atari 2600, notwithstanding that dreadful E.T. game.
Of course, there were other consoles during that era. One of these also-ran products came from Coleco, a company that had started in the leather business but by the mid 1970s had diversified into handheld single-game consoles. Their ColecoVision console of 1982 sold well initially, but suffered badly in the video game crash of 1983. By 1985 it was gone, and though Coleco went on to have further success, by the end of the decade they too had faded away.
The Coleco story was not over though, because in 2005 the brand was relaunched by a successor company. Initially it appeared on an all-in-one retro console, and then on an abortive attempt to crowdfund a new console, the Coleco Chameleon. This campaign came to a halt after the Chameleon prototypes were shown to be not quite what they seemed by eagle-eyed onlookers.
The latest twist comes from the console fan site AtariAge, on which it is claimed that Coleco is issuing DMCA takedown notices to ColecoVision fan pages and developers of fan games for the platform. It is unclear whether the excuse is a concern that there might be some adult content for the console in the wild or that there has been some form of dispute with an individual developer, but it is difficult to discern the logic behind widening the net to an entire community.
Let us put it this way. There are early 1980s consoles and computers that you will not have heard of, because they do not have an active online community. That you have heard of the ColecoVision is not because it was a wildly succesful device in its day, because it was not. It was one of the players, but it never achieved the cultural significance of the Atari or the Japanese machines that came after it. Instead you have heard of the ColecoVision here and now in 2017 because it has a band of enthusiasts who have kept it alive. A brand is nothing without its community of loyal fans, we here at Hackaday know this very well because it is you, our readers, who keep us going. Your online fans are the footsoldiers of your brand; they give you free marketing to a huge value, just because they like you. Why on earth mess with that?
For a brand owner to pursue the community who have kept it alive during decades of dormancy in this manner can hardly be described as an astute move, indeed we would have to wonder whether somewhere a Coleco executive has just said “Hold my beer”, or “Hey you guys, watch this!”, before picking up a shotgun and reserving his place in the foot gunshot ward of his local hospital. With that level of marketing genius behind it we await their next console with interest, we’re sure it will achieve fame, of a sort.
Via Hacker News.
ColecoVision header image: Evan-Amos [Public domain].