top of page

The Intellivision Amico Debacle: My Cautionary Tale of Failure and Loss

The video game industry is no stranger to high-stakes gambles, with consoles battling for market share and developers vying for consumer attention. Among the many stories of success and innovation, there are also tales of failure, mismanagement, and loss. One such story is that of the Intellivision Amico, a console whose ambitious promises ultimately led to its demise, with the company's heads going into hiding, and bankruptcy looming on the horizon. In this article, I'll examine the factors that contributed to the Amico's downfall, the financial impact of its failure, my personal lessons learned, and how it compares to the Atari VCS, a console that managed to release against all odds.

What Went Wrong with the Intellivision Amico? The Intellivision Amico promised a return to simpler times in gaming, with a focus on family-friendly experiences and a nostalgic touch. However, the console was plagued by a series of missteps and miscalculations that ultimately led to its undoing.

  1. Unrealistic Expectations and Poor Planning: The Amico was announced with an ambitious set of goals, aiming to revive the Intellivision brand and recapture the essence of classic gaming. Unfortunately, the company failed to adapt its vision to the realities of the modern gaming landscape, resulting in a product that was out of touch with consumer needs.

  2. Delays and Technical Issues: The Amico suffered from numerous delays throughout its development, further eroding consumer confidence. These setbacks were caused in part by technical issues, as the console struggled to deliver on its promised performance and features.

  3. Mismanagement and Financial Woes: The company's management team failed to navigate the challenges of console development and production, leading to cost overruns and mounting debts. This created a precarious financial situation that would ultimately prove insurmountable.

The Financial Impact: Money Raised and Lost The Intellivision Amico raised millions of dollars through crowdfunding campaigns and private investments, with supporters eagerly anticipating the return of the Intellivision brand. However, the console's failure resulted in significant financial losses for both the company and its backers. It is estimated that over $10-17 million was raised and subsequently lost in the Amico debacle, leaving a trail of disappointed investors and disillusioned fans in its wake. As the reality of the Amico's failure became apparent, the company's executives went into hiding, avoiding public scrutiny and the fallout from the console's collapse. With bankruptcy proceedings imminent, it is likely that the once-promising Intellivision brand will vanish into obscurity, leaving only a cautionary tale of ambition and failure behind.

A personally hard (and expensive) lesson learned

My personal relationship with Tommy Tallarico, the driving force behind the Intellivision Amico and my investment of $10,000, proved to be an extremely difficult and eye-opening experience. In retrospect, I realize that befriending someone like Tommy can be perilous, as his extreme narcissism had the potential to cause significant harm. At the time, I was too close to him to see the red flags. I wanted everything he said to be true. I trusted him blindly and learning this painful lesson about the dangers of associating with such individuals was a necessary step in my growth.

Phil Adam is another figure in the gaming industry with a checkered history, often appearing in shady organizations with dubious track records. Both Tommy and Phil serve as cautionary examples of the importance of thoroughly researching the people in charge of projects and companies before investing trust, time, or resources in their endeavors.

Atari VCS: A Console That Released Against the Odds

In contrast to the ill-fated Intellivision Amico, the Atari VCS managed to release, overcoming numerous obstacles and challenges during its development. While the Atari VCS faced its share of skepticism and setbacks, the company ultimately delivered a product that catered to a niche market of retro gamers and collectors.

The VCS serves as a reminder that even in the highly competitive world of video game consoles, it is still possible for underdogs to succeed with perseverance and a clear understanding of their target audience.

In the ever-evolving video game industry, it is crucial to be vigilant and discerning when it comes to the individuals at the helm of projects and businesses. Understanding the backgrounds, motivations, and reputations of key players can help stakeholders make better decisions and avoid the pitfalls that come with aligning oneself with potentially harmful personalities. Ultimately, a well-informed approach to industry partnerships and friendships can help safeguard both personal and professional interests in this dynamic and competitive landscape.

The story of the Intellivision Amico is a cautionary tale of what can happen when ambition, poor planning, and mismanagement combine to derail a once-promising project. The console's failure resulted in millions of dollars lost and the company's leadership going into hiding, with bankruptcy looming.

Lessons to Learn from the Intellivision Amico Debacle The Amico's collapse offers several important lessons for companies looking to enter the gaming market or pursue ambitious projects:

  1. Market Research and Realistic Goals: Understanding the target audience and their preferences is crucial for any product's success. The Amico failed to adapt to the modern gaming landscape and meet the expectations of its intended users. Developers should conduct thorough market research and set achievable goals to avoid repeating this mistake.

  2. Transparency and Communication: Maintaining open lines of communication with backers and customers is essential, especially when facing setbacks or delays. The Amico's repeated delays and lack of transparency eroded consumer trust, contributing to its downfall. Companies should prioritize clear communication to keep supporters engaged and informed.

  3. Effective Project Management: Proper oversight and planning are key to any project's success. The Amico's mismanagement and cost overruns led to financial instability and eventual bankruptcy. To avoid a similar fate, companies should invest in experienced (and trustworthy) project managers and prioritize efficient resource allocation.

  4. Embracing Change and Innovation: While the Amico aimed to recapture the essence of classic gaming, it failed to innovate in ways that would appeal to modern gamers at an affordable price. Companies should balance nostalgia with innovation, ensuring that their products offer unique experiences that cater to the evolving tastes of their audience.

As the video game industry continues to expand and evolve, aspiring console developers and ambitious companies should learn from the Amico's mistakes to better navigate the challenges and opportunities of this competitive market.

Meanwhile, the Atari VCS serves as an example of how perseverance and a focused vision can lead to success, even when the odds are stacked against them. Yes, it's on clearance and a catastrophic failure in it's own right... but the ill-fated Atari VCS did in fact release, something the Intellivision Amico is, after numerous delays, still struggling with.


168 views2 comments


Kimberly B.
Kimberly B.
Apr 10, 2023

An ugly and disappointing thing, the Intellivision Amico. Even more so by how it affected you. Hugs and respect, brother. ✊🏻❤

Smash JT
Smash JT
Apr 10, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Kim. Win some, lose some… and carry on :-)

bottom of page