Legends of the C64 - David Crane

Activision were one of the greatest software houses during the 80’s home computer boom. They developed games for all the major 8-bit home computer formats. An advantage they had was employing the game programmer and designer David Crane – an innovative, clever guy, who was responsible for some of the most popular computer games of all time – including the tremendously successful Pitfall series and Ghostbusters.

David initially developed games for the Atari 2600 VCS games console - the hardware of this machine was rather restricted and required a lot of effort from the programmer to get the very best out of it. This was probably the primary reason that attracted David to the machine, it provided a challenge that had to be met.

However, with the decline of the game consoles due to the popularity of a new wave of home computers, like the Atari 800 XL and Commodore 64, it became obvious that it was time to move on, and David eventually developed games for these home computers and in particular the Commodore 64.

Activision became increasingly confident due to David’s success, which led to more exposure in the computer magazines, including some effective marketing of their games.

One of their famous and for some controversial adverts, was the so-called ‘Activision Swap’, which appeared in a number of magazines during 1984. This advert portrayed two young kids, with one kid saying ‘I’ll swap four of my tapes for your Activision’, and with the other kid replying ‘No Way!’. The advert was perhaps a little arrogant and patronising, but it was making an interesting point. Activision games were focused heavily on game play, not just the audiovisual experience, which gave their games a clear advantage over the competition.

Activision Swap Advert
Activision 'Swap' Advert