Pac-Man is created by Toru Iwatani for the japanese firm Namco. The game is launched in the Japanese arcades in the autumn of 1979, under the title Puck Man. The name is derived from the Japanese word ”pakupaku” which refers to the action of opening and closing the mouth. It’s hugely successful; it is then marketed in the US and in the rest of the world in 1980. Pac-Man’s non-violent nature is the origin of its success among children. The change from Puck Man to Pac-Man is to avoid pranksters changing the letter P into an F; you can imagine the rest … Pac-Man is subsequently adapted on many computers consoles such as the Atari 2600, ColecoVision on the NES, the Apple II, Commodore 64, etc.
Pac-Man is, without a doubt, the icon of video games. He is round shaped, yellow and has a mouth. He must eat the dots, the fruit shaped power pellets, and the key, all of this in a maze haunted by four ghosts. Four special dots make the ghosts vulnerable for a short amount of time when Pac-Man can eat them. When vulnerable, the ghosts become blue and display an expression of fear. The game was considered to have no end, but in reality it has 255 levels because the 256th is impossible to complete due to a bug that fills the right side of the screen with symbols. This bug is due to the fact that the levels are coded on one byte.
Following the success of the cinema movie ET the Extra-Terrestrial in June 1982, Atari began discussions with Steven Spielberg and Universal Pictures for the film rights to adapt the video game. Towards the end of July of the same year, Atari announced that it acquired the exclusive rights. Although the details of the transaction were not disclosed, the rumor that Atari had paid between 20 and 25 million.
Spielberg highly recommend Howard Scott Warshaw for the design and programming. His reputation with Spielberg vien him about his work done on Raiders of the Lost Ark (the game). Due to the considerable time negotiating, the game loses a crazy temp development. Howard will have six weeks to put forward the project before 1 September 1982 deadline to be able to distribute the product during the Christmas shopping period. For comparison, the game Raiders of the Lost Ark has required six to seven months.
Instead of creating a Pack-Man-like, Warshaw rather go in originality. He wants to base his game around a story hoping retranscire the emotions he felt when watching the film. Unfortunately he has to limit his ideas because of too short development time. In the end, Warshaw designed the game with a reasonable complexity of development with respect to time given to it to realize it.
Sales start of the game with a bang but collapsed just as quickly and rapidly regain balance. Finally, ET the Extra-terrestrese still sell pretty well, the game is the same class as the eighth best selling Atari. But Atari had overstated its success, only 1.5 million produced 4 million cartridges are sold. Yet if Atari has manufactured many of their adaptation of Pac-Man cartridges, this is not the case for this game. However, they misjudged the commercial potential of their product. In late 1983, Atari night buried in inventories of goods in a dump of New Mexico, it is rumored that the unsold copies of ET were part of the batch. Always rumored Atari would do pad the place to dissuade the curious to come dig up copies.