Here it is so far, sorry for the delay. I haven't thought about these
things for several years so it has taken three or four hours of time to
collect my thoughts regarding your questions. As I answered these
questions, a lot of memories returned, many favorable, many frustrating.
I think the mix of games AVE did were of good value. Some much better
than others. We had good pricing and good support from the retailers up
and until the compatibility became a real problem.
When was AVE formed?,
Around February 1990.
How many employees did AVE have?
It varied. Macronix had 60 employees but we contracted out manufacturing. American Video
(AVE) used Macronix for shipping, purchasing, accounting, etc. AVE had 3 dedicated people,
Myself, Phil Mikkelson, and Fred Hoot.
What exactly was American Game Carts Inc (AGCI)? a subsidiary of AVE?
ACGI was a wholly owned subsidiary of Share Data of Arizona. ACGI was formed in 1988 or 1989
by Share Data. Share Data was the company that first created the "Budget" line of software
based on the TV game shows "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune". I was with Share Data before
ACGI and produced "Chiller". Share Data had approximately 60 employees.
Wouldn't it have been easier for AVE just to get an official license from Nintendo? I mean,
it would've caused a lot less trouble right?
Macronix was a "ROM" (Read only Memory) manufacturer, and Nintendo didn't purchase any
ROM's from Macronix. 60% to 70% of all ROMs went to video games and Nintendo would not
approve any manufacturer of ROM's other than Japanese manufacurers. To try to get some of
the Video Game business, Macronix tried to get uncommitted to Nintendo, video game companies
to purchase their ROM's along with the "NintendoCompatible" (NINA) chip. The problem of
upsetting Nintendo was outweighed by the better profits they (the uncommitted game companies)
would get by purchasing Macronix ROMs and (NINA's). Unfortunately, Macronix was unable to
convince any Game companies to use their technology and thus American Video Entertainment.
AVE couldn't have had original NES development kits, did you reverse-engineer the NES and
make one yourself?
We didn't program any of the games internally. Our developers did their own reverse
engineering. We never made a development kit.
What exatly happened to AVE? Why did they dissapear?
With Nintendo constantly changing of the base unit's internal workings. We could not come
up with new compatibility chips fast enough. We would be 100% compatible, and Nintendo would
change a few thousand units and ship them to the US. We could not blame Toys R Us for being
uncomfortable selling a cartridge that may or may not work. The changes Nintendo made
violated the Anti-trust laws of the United States. We hired Joseph Alioto (the famous and
best Anti-Trust lawyer in the United States) and sued Nintendo for anti-trust. Unfortunately
due to the judicial appointments made to the Federal Courts by Ronald Reagan and the changing
business "climate" it went from 95% to 45% we would win. This happened during the three
years we litigated the lawsuit. Without sufficient revenue from the Nintendo based products
we could not get into the SEGA based units. Dave Ashley would have been our source of
development systems for the SEGA.
Where are the remains of AVE today? Prototype cartridges and such....
I have some of the prototypes to this day. The rest of AVE inventory was sold off as scrap
or to discounters.
Color Dreams' game Menace Beach is on AVE's Maxi15, did AVE buy the rights for the game?
Yes we bought the rights for multi-game cartridges.
Which game was AVE's last release?
The last release was a pool game that was never sold at retail.
What were the relations between Sachen, Hacker International and AVE? Because two releases
were Tiles of Fate and Mermaids of Atlantis, both made by Sachen and both seem like
"censored" versions of 2 hacker titles.
The Sachen games we sold were "Double Strike" and "Pyramid". As I recall the other titles
came from TXC which and made the "censored" versions for Hacker International.
Did you ever plan to make more multicartridges than the Maxi15?
If it had been successful, we had enough games to do a second 15 in one.
Are AVE games freeware today or are they still copyrighted?
Most of the games are owned by the original creators. We usually had world wide rights to
sell them but the game concept and re-use on other platforms was owned by the creator.
Did Nintendo often sue AVE for one reason or another? :)
No. Only once, and only as a result of our suing them first.
Did you ever plan to sell games in Europe?
Yes, we actually sold some games in Europe, but the incompatibility in Europe was worse than
in the US because Europe got machines later in the production run. We had distributors in
Germany, France, UK, Austria, and Holland. The most successful distributor was in Austria.
He sold several cases of products.
Do you know anything about AGCI's unreleased game
Crossbow? (there was an add for it in AVE's game Wally Bear) if so, which
type was it. Why wasn't it released? Did a prototype even exist?
Share Data licensed the entire catalog of EXIDY coin operated games. "Chiller" was chosen
as the first title due to it's uniqueness compared to any other Nintendo game. Crossbow
never really existed in any other form other than screen shots of various backgrounds.