The last of GameSpy's articles which take a look at the 25 Smartest Moments in Gaming has been posted. This final part takes you through numbers 5 - 1:
That was the inspiration for the creation of one of the most reviled and vastly unappreciated gaming peripherals ever created. R.O.B., or Robotic Operating Buddy. R.O.B. was gray, one foot tall, spun on a little axis, and didn't do much else. He was ostensibly designed to work with two truly awful games: Gyromite and Stack-Up. That, however, wasn't R.O.B.'s true purpose. R.O.B. (along with a light gun that also came packaged with the system) was a product designed for one thing and one thing only -- to allow Nintendo's salespeople to approach big retailers like Toys R Us and say "Oh, no this isn't a video game. It's a toy." They even built a whole marketing campaign around it that drastically de-emphasized the role of the TV in the product and played up the robot and light gun.
It worked. Not entirely, of course. Buyers aren't stupid, even when they're being remarkably shortsighted. The strategy of marketing the NES as a toy (along with favorable consignment terms), convinced enough retailers in the New York City area in the summer of 1985 to stock the product for a valid test market. Everyone assumed that would be the end of it. New York City was the area that had been hardest hit by the crash, it had been the dumping ground for millions of discounted Atari 2600 cartridges that were still cluttering up bargain stores and .99 cent bins. If the NES could sell here, there was a slight chance it might work elsewhere. The smart money had Nintendo of America out of business by January.