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The Origin of the Game of ACQUIRE - Part IV

Article Index

1963 ACQUIRE Promotional Ad
1963 ACQUIRE Promotional Ad

1963 was a whirlwind for Sid Sackson.  He began the year as a little known game inventor and ended the year with one of his game ideas being sold in major stores in eight large cities in the U.S.  But was the final product of ACQUIRE really going to be Sid Sackson’s game?

There is a part of humanity that sees more than others.  We tend to call them “artists.” The problem with artists is they are usually starving while they are trying to sell their art.  This is where the corporate world takes control.  Artists want to be known for their creations; corporations have the money to make this dream a reality.  The downfall is that the corporations then own the rights and creativity from the artist and usually leave them with little or nothing.  The Beatles do not control the usage rights to their music; neither does Taylor Swift, and Sid Sackson could do little as 3M changed his idea to fit their vision for profit.

1963 ACQUIRE Promotional Ad
1963 ACQUIRE Promotional Ad

To recap, Sid had an idea for a game called VACATION.  3M had an idea for a game called “ACQUIRE.  3M’s idea must not have been too good.  Sid’s idea was brilliant.  So, corporate America decided to take Sid’s creativity and fit it into their mold.  Sid had an idea that the game would play out on a board that depicted different continents and the tiles would reflect different cities around the world.  3M had other games they were looking at for the Bookshelf Series and they wanted to fit tiles from those games into Sid’s idea, so they altered Sid’s idea to be able to use those same tiles.

Sid had the idea to distribute stock at the beginning of the game to cause mystery throughout the game as to who is in control, and also at the same time, increase the mystery and strategy by staggering the number of stocks in each company.  3M had obviously already made the decision, when they put out the test market games in December of 1963, that they were going to shy away from Sid’s idea of distributing stock at the beginning of the game.  Evidence of this was when they printed all the stocks on the same color paper instead of white and yellow as Sid had designed.

Sid wrote in his diary on January 18, 1964, “(Received) statement from 3M on ACQUIRE.  Disappointing.”

Sid's Diary Entry January 21, 1964
Sid's Diary Entry January 21, 1964

It is interesting to ponder what Sid was thinking at this moment.  The test market games had only been on sale for the month of December and they sold $1,029.80, or in today’s money, approximately $8,300.  Sid’s 5% commission was $51.49, or in today's money, approximately $420.  Not bad for some extra income in a month.  Yet it may have been all the hype for the game, and the fact that it was in such major stores, that Sid had higher expectations.

On January 21, 1964 Sid wrote in his diary, “To I/S Bill Caruson from 3M there.  Talked about ACQUIRE.  Final decision will be made sometime in February.  Bill Caruson says that ACQUIRE sold the least of all their games but got the most favorable comment from the questionnaires.”

3M had already taken a lot of liberties with Sid’s idea, and more than he even knew at that time, yet they still proceeded to tell him that they weren’t sold on his idea.  Caruson tells him this even though the 3M promotional picture that was used in December of 1963 to promote the game of ACQUIRE already depicted a different box and board than the one that was being sold in the test market games.  3M was already progressing on the game of ACQUIRE, but they wouldn’t tell Sid.