Sega wasn't the only company interested in producing a modem for use with a game console back in the early 16-bit era. Vintage Computing has dug up an old advertisement for the never-released Baton Teleplay game console modem, a little gizmo that would have allowed specific games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, and Sega Genesis to connect across telephone lines and play together in harmony. Lost Levels has the story.
With all of the technological development it needed, the only real pitfall Baton had to face, other than financial difficulties, was that of obtaining an official license from Nintendo and/or Sega. Licensing was, and still is, practically mandatory for a video game developer on console and handheld gaming systems. Most major retailers refused to carry “unlicensed” video games, such as those developed by Color Dreams and American Video Entertainment for the NES, due to unwavering pressure from Nintendo of America. Knowing that working without a license was practically suicide, Keith approached the industry giants with an impressive demonstration of a fully-functioning modem and early prototypes of Baton’s three compatible games.
Game console modems seemed like such mysterious technology back in the old days. While the coming of the Internet eventually quashed the need for such antiquated technology, the story behind the Teleplay modem is an interesting tale of worried investors and licensing headaches. I can't help but wonder how gaming history could have unfolded had the Teleplay modem made it to stores and built up a small following.