What Could An Atari Revival Look Like?

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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What Could An Atari Revival Look Like?

Atari is, oddly enough, one of those major names that gets a lot of attention thanks to its long and storied legacy but also because of its modern era issues. We don't think of Atari much as a developer these days, but it's actually still in action, and now, the company is reportedly shifting tack. Now, the company isn't so much looking to develop its own games so much as it's looking for others to develop its own intellectual property, and even do some updating in the process.

While at 2014's round of the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) Prime event, Atari's CEO, Fred Chesnais, started talking about an Atari revival using an unexpected concept: “Asteroids.” But this time, Chesnais saw something a little different than spinning a small triangular ship around opening fire on big hunks of space rock. Chesnais described a game that was more like “Day Z” in space, in which the player finds him- or herself marooned on an asteroid, required to survive on said asteroid.

Admittedly, that has about as much to do with the actual “Asteroids” release as a fish has to do with seaweed—both are found in water, after all, but both are completely different life forms—but it's still an interesting idea. Atari titles have impressive name recognition. Most every gamer over the age of, oh, 25 or so has at least some familiarity with “Centipede” or “Missile Command.” Using these titles as a way to draw attention to entirely new titles, now...that's a new and exciting idea that's hard to pass up. While Chesnais' idea may not be the best way to go, there's a way to recast such titles in a fashion that makes a little more sense to the modern gamer. Consider putting “Asteroid” into an engine like, say, “No Man's Sky” or even the old “Wing Commander” series. A first-person flight sim kind of game around an asteroid field, in which the player must break down ore-bearing asteroids and put the produce of said asteroids to work in building new and better equipment. Not a bad idea by itself, but it can go on from there. Bring in some competing mining firms, or maybe a conspiracy or two—the same firm owns all four firms and you discover that there are healthy life-insurance policies, sometimes called “dead peon insurance”, on the various companies' miners—and you might well have the makings of a big new series.

Crazy? Maybe. Outlandish? Possibly. Fun? Now that's the biggest possibility of all. Atari has a lot of intellectual property on its side, and that's not the kind of thing you want to readily overlook. But by like token, it's also not something that you want to just discard out of hand. This could be, after all, a significant new source of exciting new properties, with a lot of imagination and hard work. Only time will tell, after all, just how it all turns out, and we could well be looking at the start of a significant new movement when it comes to video games, a development we're all eager to see, particularly with a new generation of consoles now available.

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