1976 had new titles such as Road Race, Night Driver, Heavyweight Champ, Sea Wolf and Breakout. The year's highest-grossing arcade games were Namco's F-1 in Japan and Midway's Sea Wolf in the United States.
Highest-grossing arcade gamesEdit
In Japan, Game Machine magazine published the first annual arcade game earnings chart for 1976 in their February 1977 issue, listing both arcade video games and electro-mechanical games (EM games) on the same arcade chart. Namco's EM racing game F-1 was the highest-grossing overall arcade game of the year, followed by Taito's video game Ball Park (originally released as Tornado Baseball by Midway Manufacturing in North America). The following titles were the highest-grossing arcade games of 1976, according to the first annual Game Machine chart.
|Arcade electro-mechanical games (EM games)||Arcade video games|
|1||F-1||64||1||Ball Park (Tornado Baseball)||34||Sports|
|2||Mogura Taiji (Whac-A-Mole)||18||2||Speed Race DX||26||Racing|
|3||Group Skill Diga||12||3||Heavyweight Champ||20||Boxing|
|4||Sky Hawk||11||4||Breakout||14||Block kuzushi|
|5||Mini Laser Clay||6||5||Sea Wolf||10||Shooter|
|7||400 Miles||4||7||Kamikaze (Zero Fighter Kamikaze)||4||Shooter|
|Flipper (Pinball)[a]||4||8||Sparkling Corner||3||Racing|
|9||Unknown||1||Speed Race Twin||3|
|—||—||—||Rock n' Bark||2||Shooter|
|Western Gun (Gun Fight)||2|
In the United States, RePlay magazine began publishing annual lists of top-grossing arcade games in 1976, covering both arcade video games and pinball machines. The following titles were the top ten arcade video games of the year, in terms of coin drop earnings. Lifetime arcade cabinet sales are also given in a separate column.
|Rank||Title||Developer||Manufacturer||Genre||Lifetime cabinet sales|
|1||Sea Wolf||Dave Nutting Associates||Midway Manufacturing||Shooter||10,000|
|2||Gun Fight (Western Gun)||Taito||Midway Manufacturing||Shooter||8,600|
|3||Wheels (Speed Race)||Taito||Midway Manufacturing||Racing||7,000|
|4||Indy 800||Atari, Inc.||Atari, Inc.||Racing||6,495|
|5||Breakout||Atari, Inc.||Atari, Inc.||Block breaker||11,000|
|6||Indy 4||Atari, Inc.||Atari, Inc.||Racing||Unknown|
|7||Bi-Plane||Fun Games||Fun Games||Shooter|
|Demolition Derby||Exidy||Chicago Coin|
- October – Warner Communications acquires Atari from Nolan Bushnell for $28 million USD. Bushnell stays on as chairman.
- 3.5 million video games are sold, earning the retail video game industry $242 million in revenue.
- 54,000 video game arcade cabinets and 310,000 home video game cartridges are sold in the United States.
- January – Sega releases Heavyweight Champ, the first video game to feature hand-to-hand fighting. It uses controls that simulate throwing actual punches.
- February – Sega releases Road Race.
- April 1 – Exidy releases Death Race to video arcades. News of the game's existence breaks nationally in newspapers in the first week of July after a quiet nationwide rollout. The game sparks a public outcry over violence in video games, and is banned in many areas.
- April – Taito releases Speed Race Twin, a sequel to Speed Race that allows simultaneous two-player competitive gameplay
- May 13 – Atari releases Breakout, whose prototype was designed by Apple Computer cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, to video arcades.
- August – Sega releases Man T.T., also known as Moto-Cross, an early motorbike racing game, using a pseudo-3D, forward-scrolling, third-person perspective, similar to Road Race. It also introduces haptic feedback, causing the handlebars to vibrate during collisions. Sega-Gremlin re-brands it as Fonz.
- October – Atari releases Night Driver, a first-person perspective racing video game.
- October – Gremlin releases Blockade, the first of what become known as snake games.
- While working at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, Don Woods discovers and expands Will Crowther's Adventure. Later in the year, James Gillogly ports Woods's version of the interactive fiction title from Fortran to the C programming language for Unix-based computers.
- November – Fairchild Camera and Instrument releases the Video Entertainment System (later known as the VES or Channel F), the first video game console to use a microprocessor and cartridges.
- Coleco releases the Telstar, a console clone of Pong based on General Instrument's AY-3-8500 microchip.
- フリッパー, Furippā
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Sea Wolf, which was another creation of Dave Nutting, did solid business, selling more than 10,000 machines. (A later color version sold an additional 4000 units.)
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