When Atari finally announced the official launch of the Jaguar, the price tag was $200 and was bundled with a Cybermorph cartridge and one controller. However, when it actually hit store shelves the price had climbed to $250. Even with a higher price tag, sales were brisk. IBM was manufacturing the system for Atari, and things were looking up. Atari was set to market the Jaguar with a $3 million advertising budget, a telephone support line, and promised support from over 20 third party developers. However, retailers and the media were still skeptical that Atari could deliver quality software and keep all of its promises.
When the machine actually hit the streets, the reaction was mixed. Some gamers were excited by the increased power, while some felt that the system fell short of its promises. Some people claimed that the the Jaguar wasn't actually a true 64-bit system, that it was simply two 32-bit processors working in parallel. However, Atari was pressing forward with their advertising campaign touting its 64-bit power, and an impressive number of third-party titles had been announced in development. Unfortunately for these developers, the Jaguar proved very difficult to program for and Atari did not have sufficient development tools. Many Jaguar games were consequently delayed, and others were rushed out the door and were less than impressive. Ultimately, many announced developers simply did not develop any Jaguar titles.
The Jaguar's first game was the system pack-in, Cybermorph. Although an impressive polygonal game for its time, Cybermorph still received its share of criticism for design flaws and a weak color palette. The second title, Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy, was criticized by the media and even accused of being a glorified demo. This was followed by Raiden and Dino Dudes, which were also poorly received and gamers remarked that they looked like 16-bit games. Atari's first hit came in the form of Jeff Minter's Tempest 2000, an update to the classic game that was almost universally applauded and won several awards. This was followed by Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Alien vs. Predator, the latter being one of the best selling Jaguar games ever. Then Atari won several out-of-court settlements with Nintendo and Sega over patent infringements, totaling around $70 million dollars. Things were looking better, but the damage may have been done.
Christmas of 1994 was very important to Atari, but unfortunately it was a weak holiday season for videogames in general. Lackluster titles such as Checkered Flag, Kasumi Ninja, and Club Drive didn't help. The Sega Saturn was lurking on the horizon, and gamers seemed content to spend money on their Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo systems instead of buying a Jaguar. In late 1995, the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation were released in the U.S., and fans quickly forgot about Atari's machine. Even though it claimed to be superior in processing power (64-bit vs. 32-bit), that now seemed either inaccurate or irrelevant given the demonstrations by Sony and Sega's new consoles. Atari wasn't giving up however, and they announced the release of their CD-ROM attachment, Pro Controller, and some marquee titles like Primal Rage and NBA Jam Tournament Edition.
After the Christmas 1995 shopping season, it was apparent that Atari would not be able to compete. Sony's Playstation was the clear winner, and Atari admitted it had sold only $3 million worth of Jaguar merchandise in the last quarter of 1995. Although Atari stated it would continue to support the Jaguar, they began laying off staff and moved to smaller accommodations. Then Atari announced that they would be merging with hardware manufacturer JTS and discontinuing all support of the Jaguar. In early 1996, they released the last Jaguar title, Fight For Life, and almost all remaining Atari employees were laid off.
Late in the life span of the company, Atari released this long-promised CD-ROM unit. The unit hit shelves in September 1995 and retailed for $149.95. The device sat atop the Jaguar console, snapping very firmly into the cartridge slot, and had a funnel-like shape. The drive had its own cartridge slot to allow cartridge games to be played without removing the CD drive. There was a separate "Memory Track" cartridge for storing saved game position and high scores.
However, it should be noted that there is a high rate of failure with this console with many users reporting that it will not read discs. Therefore, actual working consoles of the Jaguar CD console are extremely hard to find.
What's it worth? Take a look at this Atari Jaguar price guide: sold listings for a value indication.