Sunday, August 11, 2013

RePlay Magazine Chart Summary - Part 1

Today's post is another that may only be of interest to me.
RePlay and Play Meter magazines both published monthly and yearly charts listing the highest performing video games (based on earnings).
I plan to include an appendix in my book summarizing all of the data from these charts (as well as the Electronic Games charts) for games from the bronze and golden ages (games released prior to 1986).
I have always been fascinated with this kind of stuff. In college, I used to spend hours poring over Joel Whitburn's books on the Billboard pop charts.

Posting the entire appendix is too much for one post, so I'll start with the introduction to the RePlay section, plus the data for Atari.

I will post the Bally/Midway data next time and if there is interest, I can continue with the rest of the data.

RePlay Magazine Charts
RePlay published its first issue in November of 1975. Over the years, they published a number of charts listing top games (video, pinball, and arcade) by performance (earnings).  Through 1981, RePlay published a list of top earning games as part of its annual operators' survey. In April of 1980, they published their first monthly "Player's Choice" chart listing the top performing games based on operator surveys. They also published summary charts of top games for the years 1982-1986 based on the performance on the Player's Choice charts.

"Annual" Charts:
April 1976 poll
RePlay's first equipment poll appeared in the April, 1976 issue. It listed the top 20 arcade games in use during 1975 and 1976. Ten of the games listed were video games, including the top 3. The others were pinball and electromechanical games. I removed the non-video games to create a video game top 10. The poll also included a number of other games that drew votes but did not perform well enough to make the top 20 - though they would have made a list of the top 25 video games if RePlay had compiled one at the time. (I list these as "AM" for "also mentioned").
1976-1981 Annual Operator Surveys 

Replay published its first annual operator survey in the October, 1976 issue. The survey included a list of the top ten arcade games. Operators were asked to list their "most profitable" games. 7 of the top 10 were video games, including the top 2. They also listed 4 other video games as being "mentioned strongly" (again, these are listed as "AM").
            The second survey appeared in November, 1977. Operators were told "Please tell us the five most profitable games you have operated this year by model and manufacturer name." The top 20 games were listed. 12 were video games. For the first time, the top game wasn't a video game (it was Bally's Evel Knievel pin). Six other video games were listed as receiving "favorable mentions" but were too close to be ranked accurately (again, these are  listed as "AM" below). For each of these charts I have removed the non-video games to create a separate chart for video games
            The November, 1978, 1979, and 1980 surveys were the first to list video games and pinball separately. They listed the top 10 or each. The November, 1981 survey listed only the top three video games. After 1981, the yearly operator surveys no longer listed the top games of the year.

1983 Year-in-Review List
The January, 1984 issue included a year in review article that listed the top 20 video games and top 5 kit games of 1983, based on their performance on the monthly Player's Choice charts.
1982-1986 Top 40 Charts
The March, 1987 issue included a five-year retrospective of the "Player's Choice" charts. It listed the top 40 video games (dedicated and kit games were mixed together) for each year from 1982-1986 based on chart performance. The rankings were based on an overall chart performance and not just peak position (though they didn't specify exactly how they computed them). Donkey Kong, for instance was the #1 game of 1982 despite the fact that it never made it to #1 on any monthly chart.
Player's Choice Charts
Beginning with the April, 1980 issue, Replay began publishing monthly "Player's Choice" charts listing the top earning video games and pinball machines. The first chart included four video game lists: the top 25 games by distribution and performance in both street and arcade locations. Starting with the second chart (June, 1980); they switched to a single chart with the top 20 upright video games. This format lasted until January of 1982 From February, 1982 on the top 25 were listed.
Results were based on "…an earnings-opinion poll of street and game center operators in the United States…".  Operators were mailed a "ballot" sheet "listing games in active operation" and asked to rate them. I do not know if they were able to write in games that were not on the list  Beginning in May of 1983, Replay began publishing separate charts for "upright"  (aka "dedicated" video games) and "software" (conversion kits etc.). The software chart listed the top 10 games (top 20 beginning in 1985). The charts also included an "Index" and "Distribution" percentage. The Index was used to determine the game rankings.
Index: Operators were asked to rate each game on a 1-4 scale (4=excellent earnings, 3=good, 2=fair, 1=poor). Scores were multiplied by 25 and divided by the number of responses to produce an index with a maximum value of 100 (for a game that received all 4s). Beginning with the December, 1981 issue the poll switched from a 4-point to a 10-point scale with 10 indicating "power-house earnings". The index was a simple average of the scores (with a maximum of 10).
 
Distribution: The charts also listed the percentage of respondents who had each game. Games that did not meet a certain threshold were not included in the charts. The threshold percentage was 25% until April of 1983 (except for October, 1982 when it was lowered to 20% for a month). In April of 1983, it was lowered to 20%. In March or April of 1985, it was lowered again to 15%. Note that this only applied to the dedicated games chart. The software/conversion kit chart had no minimum distribution threshold (probably because, initially,  so few kit games were owned by 15% of operators).

Beginning in June, 1980, a separate "New Performers" (later called "Best New Uprights") chart appeared, listing the top (usually 3-5) dedicated games that did not meet the distribution threshold for the main chart..
Cocktail Chart
From February, 1982 to February, 1984, RePlay included a list of the top five (sometimes fewer) cocktail table games. This chart sometimes listed the Index and distribution percentage, but usually did not. On a few occasion,
Since the Cocktail charts were so short and short-lasting, I have not included them in the summary information below. In addition, the same games tended to appear on the charts. Only 14 different titles appeared on the cocktail charts over the years. Two games dominated the charts. Ms. Pac-Man appeared on the charts 21 times and was #1 19 times. Pac-Man appeared 23 times and was #1 4 times. No other game reached the #1 position. Three other games were also very popular: Centipede (21 appearances), Donkey Kong (16 appearances), and Galaga (15 appearances). Indexes and distribution percentages were much lower for cocktail games than they were for upright games or conversion kits. The highest index ever achieved by a cocktail game was 5.27 by Ms. Pac-Man in August, 1982. The highest distribution was 92% by Ms. Pac-Man in May of 1983. Other than Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, the highest index was 4.29 (Frogger) and the highest distribution was 61% (Centipede - though bear in mind that index and distribution were often omitted).
Note that no cocktail chart was published in the March, 1983 issue and I am missing the cocktail chart for the June, 1982 issue.
 
Chart Summary

            The following section summarizes chart performance data for all games released prior to January, 1986. It was compiled from the annual charts listed above plus the monthly Player's Choice charts from April 1980 to March 1989 (the last issue I have from the 1980s).

NOTE that Replay did not publish a chart in the following issues: May 1980, September 1980, November, 1980, and September, 1981.

I am missing the following issues:
1988: January, February, March, June, October, November
1989: January, April-December
Note that by March of 1989, few (if any) games from prior to 1986 were still appearing on the charts. In fact, no game from before 1986 appeared on the March, 1989 charts and only 1 (Paperboy, which was #19 on the software charts) appeared on the February, 1989 charts. Nonetheless, it is possible that some of these games may have appeared on charts after March of 1989.

I am missing the index and distribution data for June, 1982 and March, 1985 (though I have the rankings).

A "+" indicates that the game was still on the charts in 1988 and 1989 and may have been included in the missing issues above or issues from after March, 1989.

Records:
Most Times Charted (monthly charts only):
Note that if a game charted on both the upright and software charts for a given month, I only count it once.


1.    Monaco GP (Sega/Gremlin) - 71
2.    Galaga (Midway/Namco) -  61
3.    Pole Position (Atari/Namco) - 56+
4.    Pole Position II [SW] (Atari/Namco) - 55+
5.    Turbo (Sega/Gremlin) - 51
6.    Ms. Pac-Man (Midway) - 43
7.    Spy Hunter (Midway) - 41
8.    Centipede (Atari) - 39
9.    Pac-Man (Midway/Namco) - 34
10.  Paperboy (Atari) - 32+
Birdie King II (Monroe/Coin-It) - 32


Longest Chart Span:

1.    Monaco GP (Sega/Gremlin) - 84 months (April, 1980 - April, 1987)
2.    Pole Position II (Atari/Namco) - 62 months+ (December, 1983 - February, 1989+)
3.    Galaga (Midway/Namco) - 62 months (January, 1982 - March, 1987)
4.    Pole Position (Atari/Namco) - 61 months+ (March, 1983 - April, 1988+)
5.    Turbo (Sega/Gremlin) - 56 months (April, 1982 - December, 1986)
6.    Ms. Pac-Man (Midway) - 43 months (March, 1982 - November, 1985)
7.    Centipede (Atari) - 43 months (August, 1981 - March, 1985)
8.    Paperboy (Atari) - 40 months+ (October, 1985 - February, 1989+)
9.    Spy Hunter (Midway) - 40 months (March, 1984 - July, 1987)
10.  Pac-Man (Midway) - 37 months (January, 1981 - March, 1984)
11.  Hang On (Sega) - 36 months+ (December, 1985 - December, 1988+)

NOTE - if we included appearances on the annual charts, the following games would make the list:
In October, 1976 Death Race appeared in the "also mentioned" section of the charts rather than the main charts.

1.    Sea Wolf (Midway) - 46 months (October, 1976 - August, 1980)
2.    Death Race (Exidy) - 45 months (October, 1976 - July, 1980)
3.    Sprint II (Atari) - 41 months (November, 1977 - April, 1981)

Highest Peak Index
4/100 point system
1.    Asteroids (Atari) - 100
2.    Defender -(Williams)  99.34
3.    Space Invaders  (Midway/Taito) - 98.71
4.    Monaco GP (Sega/Gremlin) - 98.61
5.    Pac-Man (Midway/Namco) - 98.39

10 point system
1.    Gauntlet (Atari) - 9.88
2.    Punch Out (Nintendo) - 9.86
3.    Pole Position (Atari) - 9.76
4.    Ms. Pac-Man (Midway) - 9.67
5.    Pac-Man (Midway/Namco) - 9.63
Dragon's Lair (Cinematronics) - 9.63


Note - the highest peak rating for a conversion kit was 9.4 for Thayer's Quest (RDI)

Highest Peak Distribution %

Asteroids (Atari) - 100%
Centipede (Atari) - 100%
Donkey Kong (Nintendo) - 100%
Galaxian (Midway/Namco) - 100%
Pac-Man (Midway/Namco) - 100%
Space Invaders (Midway/Taito) - 100%

Note - Ms. Pac-Man had a peak distribution percentage of 98%. The highest peak distribution percentage for a conversion kit was 92% for Mr. Do! (Universal)

Most Charted Games (Company) - including games licensed to other companies
Incomplete
1.    Atari/Kee - 51
2.    Bally/Midway/Sente - 49
Note - includes Bally/Sega (1 game) and Bally/Sente (5 games)

3.    Sega/Gremlin - 26
4.    Nintendo - 16
5.    Taito/Taito America - 15
6.    Namco - 14, Konami - 14
8.    Exidy - 13
9.    Data East - 12
10.  Williams - 11
11.  Cinematronics - 10
12.  Centuri - 9, Stern - 9


            The following section includes summary information for every game that was released prior to January, 1986. It includes data from the Player's Choice upright and software charts as well as the "annual" charts. Games are listed by manufacturer in alphabetical order. Licensed games are listed under the company that released them in the U.S. (i.e. Gyruss is under Centuri) and noted under company that they were licensed from.
 For each game, the following data is listed in the monthly charts section:

1.    Name - if a game is licensed from another company on the list, that company will be noted (i.e. "lic Namco")

2.    First Appearance : Last Appearance (Span)  – The month and year the game first and last appeared on the charts (as of March, 1989), along with the number of months between first and last appearance in parenthesis.
NOTE that given the missing issues from 1988 and 1989 listed above, some games that ended their run in these years may have had slightly longer runs.


3.    Times Charted – The number of times a game appeared on the charts as of March, 1989. This often gives a more accurate gauge of a game’s popularity than the peak position alone.
NOTE that given the missing issues from 1988 and 1989 listed above, some games that charted in these years may have had charted a few more times.


4.    Peak Position – The games highest position on the charts (preceded by a # sign)
Note: for games listed #1 or #2 the number of times they appeared at that position is listed in parenthesis.


5.    Average (Peak) Index - The average and peak values for the game's performance index (see above). For games that spanned the 4/100 and 10 point systems, I include figures from whichever method included the peak index.

6.    Average (Peak) Distribution Percentage - The average and peak values for the game's distribution percentage (The percent of operators responding to the equipment poll who had the game).

[SW] indicates "software" chart

Games that appeared only on the "New Games" charts and not the upright or software charts are also listed, along with their peak position on the "New Games" chart, the month they achieved the peak, and their peak index and distribution percentage.

Note that for annual charts, the 1983 chart that appeared in the January, 1984 issue is listed as "1983" while the 1983 chart that appeared in the March, 1987 issue is listed as "1983b".

Atari/Kee Games charted: 51
#1 games: Asteroids, Black Widow [SW], Pole Position, Pole Position II [SW], Tank
Most Appearances: Pole Position (56+), Pole Position II (55+), Centipede (39)
Longest Span: Pole Position II (62+ months), Pole Position (61+ months)
Highest Peak Index: Asteroids (100), Gauntlet (9.88)
Highest Peak Distribution %: Asteroids (100%), Centipede (100%)

Annual Charts
Asteroids: 1980 (#1), 1981 (#3), 1982 (#19)
Asteroids Deluxe: 1982 (#29)
Atari Football: 1979 (#2)
Black Widow: 1983b (#30)
Breakout: 10/76 (#5), 1977 (#3), 1978 (#5)
Centipede: 1982 (#4), 1983 (#12), 1983b (#9), 1984 (#35)
Crystal Castles: 1983 (#20), 1983b (#29), 1984 (#23)
Dig Dug (lic. Namco): 1982 (#15)
Drag Race: 1977 (#4)
Fire Truck/Smokey Joe: 1978 (#9)
Gauntlet
: 1986 (#2)

Gran Trak (10 and 20): 3/76 (#5)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: 1985 (#39), 1986 (#19)
Indy 4: 10/76 (#6)
Indy 800: 3/76 (#4), 10/76 (#4)
Kangaroo (lic. Sun Electronics): 1982 (#20)
LeMans: 1977 (AM), 1978 (#10)
Marble Madness: 1985 (#29)
Millipede: 1983 (#13), 1983b (#8), 1984 (#25)
Missile Command: 1980 (#4), 1982 (#38)
Night Driver: 1977 (#7)
Paperboy: 1986 (#12)
Pole Position (lic. Namco): 1983 (#2), 1983b (#1), 1984 (#2), 1985 (#4), 1986 (#14)
Pole Position II (lic. Namco): 1984 (#1), 1985 (#3), 1986 (#6)
Space Duel: 1982 (#21)
Space Race: 3/76 (AM)                                                       
Sprint I: 1978 (#3)
Sprint II: 1977 (#2), 1978 (#2), 1979 (#3)
Star Wars: 1983 (#3), 1983b (#19), 1984 (#11)
Starship I: 1977 (#5), 1978 (#7)
Steeplechase: 5/76 (AM)
Super Breakout: 1979 (#8)
Super Bug: 1977 (AM), 1978 (#6)
Tank: 3/76 (#1)
Tempest: 1982 (#11)
Twin Racer: 3/76 (#6)
Video Pinball: 1979 (#10)
Xevious (lic. Namco): 1983b (#27)
 
Monthly Charts


Asteroids
04/80-08/82 (28)
24
1(9)
97 (100)
97% (100%)
Asteroids Deluxe
05/81-05/82 (12)
11
5
82 (95.11)
76% (88%)
Atari Basketball
04/80
1
15
Atari Football
04/80-07/80 (3)
3
9
68 (78.57)
83% (84%)
Atari Football (4p)
04/80-12/80 (8)
6
6
68 (92.18)
37% (41%)
Battlezone
12/80-10/81 (10)
10
2(2)
80 (96.97)
76% (88%)
Black Widow [SW]
05/83-10/83 (5)
3
1(1)
6.5 (8)
24% (35%)
Centipede
08/81-03/85 (43)
39
3
92 (96.62)
94% (100%)
Crystal Castles [SW]
09/84-02/85 (5)
3
8
7 (7.4)
24% (32%)
Crystal Castles
10/83-05/85 (19)
16
6
6.6 (7.33)
46% (57%)
Dig Dug (lic Namco)
06/82-03/83 (9)
10
7
7.5 (8.44)
72% (83%)
Empire Strikes Back
06/86
1
18
7.3 ()
% (39%)
Fire Truck
04/80
1
22
56
22%
Firefox
07/84-01/85 (6)
4
9
6.4 (7.17)
23% (25%)
Food Fight
10/83
1
24
6.2
24%
Gauntlet
12/85-12/87 (24)
24
1(6)
8.2 (9.88)
67% (96%)
Gauntlet (2P)
12/86-08/87 (8)
9
8
7.1 (7.62)
20% (41%)
Gravitar
10/82-11/82 (1)
2
22
6.1 (6.11)
33% (37%)
Indiana Jones [SW]
11/85-02/87 (15)
16
3
7.5 (8.69)
44% (55%)
Kangaroo (lic Sun)
08/82-12/82 (4)
5
8
7.5 (8.52)
56% (64%)
LeMans
04/80-08/80 (4)
4
13
60 (65.27)
53% (61%)
Lunar Lander
04/80-07/80 (3)
3
4
59 (59.72)
57% (58%)
Major Havoc [SW]
07/84
1
5
6.9
21%
Major Havoc
04/85-05/85 (1)
2
24
5.7 (5.92)
23% (24%)
Marble Madness [SW]
10/85
1
18
6.9
39%
Marble Madness
04/85-09/85 (5)
6
5
7.5 (8.05)
31% (41%)
Millipede
03/83-05/85 (26)
25
3
6.9 (8)
52% (67%)
Missile Command
10/80-02/82 (16)
10
3
86 (94.12)
80% (91%)
Night Driver
04/80-01/81 (9)
6
10
69 (77.38)
48% (54%)
Paperboy [SW]
10/85-02/89 (40)
32
1(1)
7.4 (8.79)
41% (58%)
Paperboy
07/85-09/85 (2)
3
3
8.5 (8.91)
29% (41%)
Peter Packrat [SW]
11/85
1
20
6.6
17%
Pole Position (l Namco)
03/83-04/88 (61)
56
1(7)
8 (9.76)
81% (90%)
Pole Position II [SW]
12/83-02/89 (62)
55
1(7)
7.6 (9)
61% (79%)
Return of the Jedi
04/85-10/87 (30)
5
16
6 (6.33)
18% (25%)
Road Runner [SW]
08/86-09/86 (1)
2
10
7 (7.33)
15% (21%)
Sky Raider
04/80
1
24
54
0
Space Duel
04/82-08/82 (4)
5
12
7.1 (8.3)
53% (62%)
Sprint II
04/80-04/81 (12)
9
5
73 (86.71)
77% (80%)
Star Wars
09/83-07/85 (22)
23
2(1)
7.1 (9.53)
69% (82%)
Super Breakout
04/80-08/80 (4)
4
12
65 (69.03)
50% (53%)
Super Bug
04/80-10/80 (6)
5
11
62 (68.33)
46% (54%)
Tempest
12/81-11/82 (11)
12
3
7.9 (9.17)
89% (96%)
TX-1 (lic Namco)
06/85-07/85 (1)
2
1(1)
9.1 (9.33)
17% (17%)
Warlords
07/81
1
18
72
25%
Xevious (lic Namco)
04/83-09/84 (17)
14
8
6.6 (7.95)
38% (48%)

 Games appearing only on "New Games" chart: Arabian (7/83, #5, 7.13, 9%), Fast Freddie (11/82, #6, 5.22, 15%), I, Robot (11/84, #5, 5.43, 13%)

 

 

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