Like any major new industry, when it is brand new, it is filled with potential. There really weren’t many games kicking around so ideas for fresh new games were a dime a dozen.
Atari was quite smart by investing and hiring people who had great ideas. It was an attractive and exciting company to work for at the time. They also wanted to stay on top of the industry and create the best titles because quite frankly that was their business model. Poor game titles would create a bad reputation in the industry quickly, which they obviously did not want.
The most important thing Atari did was offer their employees creative freedom. They would often team up a hardware engineer with a software engineer and they would just start mashing ideas together.
They would take these ideas to the boss for approval and if approved they would do their best to make it fun and great.