What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

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ivarf
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What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

Post by ivarf » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:35 pm

The Amstrad CPC got a lot of ports from the Spectrum. Some good, some bad, some awful and some were even great. If the machine had got the same support from developers that the C64 and Spectrum got, the amount of good and great games would have been much higher. The Amstrad CPC is capable of games like Pinball Dreams and Vespertino by BG games. Look them up if you haven't seen them. I wonder what could have happened if Amstrad hadn't bought Sinclair in 1986. If production Spectrums had stopped for good this early, I think software production for both the Spectrum and Amstrad would have been drastically reduced. On the other hand, the number of games were the Amstrad CPC was the lead platform would have increased. Maybe we would have seen a Amstrad 16-bit games machine competing with Amiga and Atari ST too. But sales for the Amstrad made Spectrum and Amstrad CPC was so high, Amstrad didn't see the need for that machine. It's PC line was the best selling PC line in Europe for a couple of years too. I would have loved to see another 16 bit games in Europe from Amstrad. It didn't happen partly because they let Spectrum live on

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Re: What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

Post by Matt_B » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:07 pm

I'd think that if Amstrad hadn't bought out Sinclair, someone else would have because its share of the market was just too big. The main reason they were failing was because of other products that had racked up large development costs without selling much. The C5, QL and the TV80 are obvious examples but there were a whole host of others that never even got to market. Sales of the Spectrum were still pretty good though. They just needed to reduce their production costs and restore confidence after a period of uncertainty. Amstrad were just one of many companies that could have done that.

As such, it's hard to see the CPC as ever doing much better than third place in the UK market. Maybe if Sinclair had vanished in a puff of smoke in mid 1986 there'd have been a low-price model of the CPC without a monitor instead of the Spectrum +2 and, backed by all the developers who'd built up their Z80 skills, it'd have instead been a market leader for the second half of the decade. However, you can't ignore that Commodore would also have picked up a lot of that slack too, so we'd still probably be looking at second place.

Other than making gaming PCs, it's hard to see them having much impact on the 16-bit gaming market. They did that eventually anyway, although after the disaster of the PC2000 series they were never going to be particularly relevant again. On the whole, they always gave the impression of a company that didn't really get gaming, and were much more enthusiastic about selling to the business market.

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Re: What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

Post by kiwimike » Wed Jul 31, 2019 5:49 am

It's interesting, these 'what if' scenarios. I always wondered what might have been had Amstrad joined the party a little earlier. It was great value in the days TVs and monitors were expensive, a little earlier and things could have turned out way different...by the time it came out many already had their hardware of choice sorted, so had Amstrad been one of the choices when first picking, you never know :)

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Re: What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

Post by Antiriad2097 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:21 am

Amstrad was always too little, too late, an expensive wannabe. It should have been much better given how late it came out. There was no third choice by then, it was either Speccy or C64, and if the Speccy died off it would have just driven everyone to the C64.
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Re: What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

Post by ivarf » Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:55 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:07 pm
Other than making gaming PCs, it's hard to see them having much impact on the 16-bit gaming market. They did that eventually anyway, although after the disaster of the PC2000 series they were never going to be particularly relevant again. On the whole, they always gave the impression of a company that didn't really get gaming, and were much more enthusiastic about selling to the business market.
What companies were making computers for the gaming market? To me, only American companies like Commodore with the C64 and Atari with its 8-bit computers. What else except dedicated consoles? I can't say that Amstrad has produced anything 16 bit, games-related. I am not taking the ver low specked Spectrum PC as an serious attempt or for that matter the Mega Drive PC

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Re: What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

Post by psj3809 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:23 pm

If the Amstrad came out earlier then yeah it might have been the best of the bunch by far. But just came out too late and was always a distant third to the C64/Speccy.

At the end of the day many of us are just loyal as we got a computer because our circle of friends normally had that computer so we knew we could swap games etc. If i went round my best mates house in '84 and he showed me an Amstrad with a ton of decent games i would have followed.

Also 'what if' game companies didnt have super tight deadlines to get games out or they used some of the best developers out there. So many games were rushed out before Xmas and were dire or were just bad bad games (Fair few Ocean ones). I look at Commando, if the same devs did Rambo or Who Dares Wins II (Actually like that game!) they would have been superb.

If the guy who did Flying Shark did 1942 then that would have been far far better. Same for is it Bob Pape who did the R-Type conversion, get him on Nemesis and that would have been brilliant.

Said it before, back then a £150 present for Xmas as an 8 year old or so in the 80's was HUGE. I'm sure some parents thought this could be a huge waste of money and it was a risk. The Speccy did a great job going in so cheap so the masses bought it. The C64 is a great machine but back then all my mates had Speccys so i followed suit. Next Xmas when I got my Speccy and armed with a ton of C90's i was one happy lad ;)

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Re: What if Amstrad hadn't bought the Spectrum name

Post by Matt_B » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:24 am

ivarf wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:55 pm
What companies were making computers for the gaming market? To me, only American companies like Commodore with the C64 and Atari with its 8-bit computers. What else except dedicated consoles? I can't say that Amstrad has produced anything 16 bit, games-related. I am not taking the ver low specked Spectrum PC as an serious attempt or for that matter the Mega Drive PC
I don't think anyone was making computers specifically for the games market during the 1980s; it's just something that happened organically with bedroom coders pretty much bootstrapping an industry out of nothing while, at the same time, the console industry in the US was collapsing and leaving a vacuum to be filled.

So, yes, the Sinclair PC200 and the Amstrad Mega PC don't exactly look like serious attempts in comparison to what, say, Nintendo were doing around the same time. However, with Amstrad's approach to gaming just being to put the hardware out there and see if anyone made anything for it, they're not that different to what they were doing earlier on. You need look no further than the GX4000 to see what they thought launching a games console entailed in 1990.

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