You kindly published a letter of
mine at the beginning of the year asking for software for the new
computer in the childrens ward of the hospital where I work.
The response has been splendid
and we have received many useful items from all parts of the country
and even from Italy! I have personally replied to all those who
included their address but several items were sent anonymously and
I wondered if you would publish a small note of thanks on behalf
of the children of ward C2 to all those who have been so generous.
Best wishes and many thanks.
WHY SO EXPENSIVE?
I notice that BOUNTY BOB STRIKES
BACK is currently available on a 40k ROM costing £49.95. This is
absolutely ridiculous as the game is available on cassette for the
Commodore 64 at only £9.95.
Why is it that Atari owners are
always being asked to pay these ridiculous prices? There is no reason
why this game should not be available on cassette as anybody who
is willing to pay £50 for a game has surely upgraded their machine
to 48k? The new Ataris look set to take off in a big way but will
only do so if they have a solid range of cheap cassette software
to equal the Commodore and Spectrum. What is the point of buying
a reasonably priced computer if the software is too expensive? Granted
much Atari software is coming down in price but there is still a
tendency for many games to be on disk only. The average Commodore
and Spectrum owner runs a cassette based system and, if the XE range
is to lure these potential customers away from their existing systems
then the software companies must stop this disk only bias. Why on
earth should games like Ghostbusters, Mr Robot, Flak and Loderunner
etc. be available on cassette for the Commodore but not the Atari?
And why do games such as Boulderdash, Bristles and Flip 'N' Flop
cost twice as much for the Atari than the Commodore?
I sincerely hope that BOUNTY BOB
does not sell. If any owner buys it he must have more money than
sense as you can buy a new 800XL for barely twice the price of this
* Most people tend to blame the
retailers for such high prices but the blame really lies with those
companies such as U. S. Gold who have licensing agreements with
the U.S. software companies. In the case of BOUNTY BOB those retailers
who sold the ROM (imported from the U.S.) did so partly as a service
to those who had waited a long time for its release when there was
no indication of an Atari release from U. S. Gold. Granted they
make more profit from a £50 item but most retailers would prefer
to sell lower priced software in volume than take chances on stocking
high priced items.
So who is to blame? The answer
is complex but the only companies that can change the situation
are those who negotiate the U.K. licensing rights to U.S. software.
Unfortunately their argument for higher prices for Atari, or non-availability,
is that the products do not sell in enough quantity to justify the
expense in producing and promoting them. Part of this is history
but the blame also lies with owners and Atari themselves. Any owner
who has a pirated copy of a program, for whatever reason, is to
blame. Atari is to blame for still failing to advertise their products
or re-think their marketing.
How about a radical step? What
about Atari setting up or backing a company to negotiate the U.K.
rights to software that the other companies are not interested in?
Sell them on cassette to retailers at good margins and get them
in the shops alongside their computers. It would probably cost no
more than a major hardware advertising campaign and would certainly
lure other computer owners away from their systems. Probably easier
said than done but worth investigating?
Probably the only thing you
and I can do is to write to U.S. GOLD and BEYOND Software and other
companies every time they advertise software and ask them for the
Atari version. If enough people write then they will be released
and at the right price. But will enough people write? Most will
feel that they shouldn't have to and maybe they are right.
As FIRST STEPS is currently running
the A-Z of BASIC I wondered if I could use the letters page to thank
all those who voted for the column in the last Readers Poll. Your
support is much appreciated. I will reply to all readers who write
with queries provided they enclose a stamped addressed envelope
but I now have several letters from people who did not enclose one.
If anyone has not had a reply from me could I ask them to please
write again ensuring that they enclose a stamped addressed envelope.
BELFAST, BT10 0DB
* Mark has spent a great deal
of his own time in helping readers with their problems. If you write
to anyone for advice and expect a personal reply you should enclose
a stamped addressed envelope. Is it really fair to ask someone to
spend an hour of their time giving free advice if you can't be bothered
to spend 17p on the return postage?