After the Atari 5200's lukewarm reception, Atari went back to the drawing board and tried again. The Atari 7800 was intended to take the best features of both the Atari 2600 and 5200 and also compete against both the ColecoVision and Intellivision.
Because most people found the Atari 5200 controller confusing and difficult to use, the Atari 7800 was designed to feature a much simpler controller, which consists of a digital joystick and action buttons on both sides. Some of this simplicity also revolves around the fact that the Atari 7800 could also play Atari 2600 games, which generally used just a basic joystick and one button. It might have been confusing for players if the 7800 controller had all sorts of buttons that had no effect when playing Atari 2600 games.
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