Meteors, The Prototype Arcade Game That Changed An Industry

arcadehero December 19, 2012 6
Meteors, The Prototype Arcade Game That Changed An Industry

(Thanks to DasBacon on Facebook for pointing me to this story, Eric Holniker for providing details)

We’ve spoken plenty about prototype games this year since so many notable games turned 30, and Pong turned 40. There are plenty of prototypes that never made it to market to directly affect anything but often a concept or idea from such a game can have a lasting effect.

meteors

Meteors as seen on Eric Holniker’s Facebook page

One prototype that had a great effect on the industry but had been forgotten by time until its recent discovery was called Meteors. It was not designed by a major company but rather a small group called Amusement World. As is explained in more detail in the video below, the game was similar to Asteroids and so Atari sued the creator, the late Stephen Holniker over copyright infringement. After a long fought battle, Mr. Holniker won, which opened the gates so game companies could not copyright a whole genre of games. This effect has lead to the creation of innumerable game titles, something that would have been quite limited had Atari won in this instance. Off the top of my head Columns probably would not exist if the lawsuit had gone the other way and the first-person shooter side of the industry would be entirely different.

The game at the center of the case however was not mass produced afterwards and it languished in storage for years, until now where Mr. Holniker’s son, Eric has set it up at his co-owned store, called Save Point in Westminster, MD. It’s a combination retro game place, LAN center and arcade, where you can see some of the game selection in the video (including the not-so-common Sonic The Fighters). The Meteors game itself still works after all this time, and its certainly a neat piece of video game history to still exist.


6 Comments »

  1. BDD December 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    The game is identical to Venture Line’s Space Force/Meteoroids, except that VL’s game uses a vertically-mounted monitor, and has a 1980 copyright. I’m wondering if his dad licensed the design and code to Venture Line, and asked this same question in the comment of the video.

  2. editor December 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this – son able to follow his dads work, great to see.

  3. E December 21, 2012 at 9:02 am - Reply

    No, Meteoroids has a 1981 copyright. It’s possible instead that this game was sold to Venture Line. Otherwise, wouldn’t Atari have sued Venture Line?

    http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=8682

  4. Keith Smith December 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Meteoroids may have a 1981 copyright but Space Force was copyrighted in October of 1980.

    It looks like Meteors debuted publicly on March 13, 1981 at the AOE show in New Orleans, which is where Atari saw it.

    http://allincolorforaquarter.blogspot.com/2012/12/meteors.html

  5. J. Maestas July 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    I have a Meteors arcade game for sale!! If anyone is interested in buying it, please send an email to: treasuretraders@comcast.net

    Thanks!!

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