Wikipedia on that dark, dark year:
The video game crash of 1983 was the year-long crash of the US video game industry and the bankruptcy of a number of companies producing home computers and video game consoles in North America in late 1983 and early 1984. It brought an end to what is considered the second generation of American console video gaming.
The crash was followed by a gap of two years, during which there was no significant development for American video game consoles. That gap ended with the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) (along with its landmark title Super Mario Bros.) which was first introduced in Japan in 1983 (as Famicom) and then in the United States in 1985, and which would become extremely popular by 1987.
This period is sometimes referred to as the video game crash of 1984, because that was the year the full effects of the crash became obvious to consumers. Hundreds of games were in development for 1983 release, most of which ended up in bargain bins. But few games were developed in 1983 for release the following year, resulting in a drought of new video games in 1984.