8bitrocket.com’s Project: Save Atari Week Starts!!!
Anyone who follows the game industry closely knows a few facts about the name Atari:
- Atari, as an actual company was shot in the stomach in 1984 by Warner Exec Steve Ross and then died a slow and painful death over the next 20 or so years. Atari was split into two companies at the time, Atari Games, the coin-division, and Atari Corp., the consumer division.
- Atari Games, the coin-op division of Atari joined-up with Midway Games and still made coin-ops until 2003. Now Midway concentrates mostly on console games.
- Atari Corp, the consumer products part of Atari limped through several new platforms (ST, Lynx, Jaguar) and finally flat-lined in 1996.
- Hasbro bought the Atari properties in 1998 and launched a series of luke-warm “re-imaginings” of old Atari games. After some initial success , they sold off the business to Infogrames in 2001.
- In 2002 Infogrames spun-off a subsidiary named Atari to fend off the backlash against all things “French” in the USA after the September 11th attacks and France’s attitude toward the USA military response. The gaming community have been scratching their collective head over the idea ever since.
- For the past 6 years, aside from a few notable retro collections and the Flashback 1 and 2 consoles, Atari has done little with it’s past and instead has focused on premium budget games, few of which have been huge hits. In that time they have consistently lost money and are now on the verge of total collapse.
- Last week Infogrames announced they would be incorporating the Atari subsidiary back into Infogrames as a whole.
- Many of Atari’s classic properties and brands remain, to this day, unused by Atari-Infogrames
While we here at 8bitrocket.com were initially excited to see that Infogrames was unearthing the Atari name at the beginning of this decade, (I have an Atari watch from E3 2002 to prove it) we have been a bit “under whelmed” by Atari-Infogrames efforts to utilize the Atari properties that they own. From what we have been able to gather, Atari -Infogrames owns the rights to almost all Atari Inc. properties developed prior to the 1984 split. That means they have been sitting on:
- Scores coin-operated game properties that have never been emulated or released else where.
- Dozens of Atari 8-bit computer games some of which were instrumental in the creation of the computer game industry.
- Rarely seen 16-bit computer versions of some of their best coin-ops and licenses, plus some classic 3rd party 16-bit games.
- Unique Atari 5200 game properties and advanced versions of Atari 2600 VCS games.
- Some of the best versions of classic Atari coin-ops released for the 7800 plus unique titles developed specifically for the platform.
- Many Unique and interesting Lynx and Jaguar games that should have continued on as cross-platform game franchises.
This week we are exploring some ideas that we believe could help Atarinfogrames pull itself out of their current diffculties, while at the time time treating Atari’s illustrious past with the reverence befitting befits the world’s first video game company. We are calling this effort: 8bitrocket.com’s Project: Save Atari