Atari is a brand with an incredible history, so much so that it's the subject of plenty of debate and discussion over its role in bringing gaming to the mainstream, its contribution to the so-called 'crash' of the early '80s and its struggles since. Despite multiple hardware releases into the '90s the company failed to regain its dominance in that area, while in more recent times software struggles saw some complicated take-overs and eventually bankruptcy in 2013.
The company is now back under one banner — rather than multiple subsidiaries — and with a minimal staff led by CEO Fred Chesnais. It's promising a comeback, issuing a "corporate comeback strategy" press release outlining the company's plans, some of which sound rather ambitious and peculiar; an excerpt is below.
“Atari is more than a game publishing company; it’s an iconic brand that has established a passionate and timeless culture,” said Fred Chesnais, Chief Executive Officer, Atari, Inc. “Known across multiple generations around the world, Atari will continue to embrace all audiences. What the company has accomplished over the years is no small feat, but there is more to come. We’re looking forward to delivering on our new strategy and engaging with our audience in new ways across multiple channels as the next era of Atari unfolds. We are leading a rebuilding exercise in a highly volatile industry, so at the same time we are also aware of the challenges that lay ahead.”
As an interactive entertainment production company, Atari is extending its classic gaming brands to various platforms including mobile (iOS and Android), PC, online and other digital mediums. Beyond re-launching its nostalgic gaming titles, the company will aim at capitalizing on other rapidly growing markets and reaching out to new audiences – including LGBT, social casinos, real-money gambling, and YouTube with exclusive video content. Atari will also continue its hardware licensing line of business, particularly for gamified hardware and wearable devices, with the goal of operating the most promising ventures at a later stage.
Within its new approach, Atari has made significant strides in 2014 alone. In the gaming arena, Atari has re-introduced the beloved franchise RollerCoaster Tycoon® with RollerCoaster Tycoon® 4 Mobile™ (currently in the Top 25 of the App Store in the United States and in the Top 10 in many countries) which will be followed by an Android version and a multiplayer game for PC in winter 2014. The company also launched Haunted House® on mobile devices, and released a new multiplayer online battle arena and crafting game, Minimum. The company has plans to deliver other popular classics, such as Asteroids®, on mobile and digital platforms in coming months. In the online casino industry, Atari recently announced a real-money gambling partnership with Pariplay and social casino (virtual currency) partnership with FlowPlay. Atari will make additional announcements across the LGBT, YouTube/TV and hardware licensing industries in the coming quarters.
Some of these statements raise eyebrows, such as extensive plans in the gambling sector and "wearable devices", while RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile wasn't particularly well received, with our colleagues at Eurogamer awarding it 1/10.
With a staff reportedly under a dozen in number, the company has quite a challenge on its hands in attempts to return to former glories. Are you optimistic about Atari's future, or worried it'll all go a bit wrong? Let us know.