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Remember such old-school games as Pong and Asteroids? They're among the most important games of all time having basically kicked off the gaming industry. Atari made those--along with some of the first commercially successful home consoles. Atari had been a mainstay in the gaming industry since its beginning and a major player for a number years--but the company buckled under hard times in 2013, stopped being profitable, and became a sinking ship. Now, the formerly bankrupt publisher/developer has a plan to get right back out of the red. That plan has basically nothing to do with games. Oh, and it makes little to no sense whatsoever.
In May of this year, Atari CEO Frederic Chesnais claimed that Atari is "more than a software brand, it's a hardware brand." But don't get your hopes(?) up that Atari will be getting back into the console business. Nope, the company will be looking into "gamified hardware and wearable devices." What kind of hardware would that entail, exactly? Chesnais explained "...like, a watch, a gamified watch." Ah, OK--so like, the technology we had in 1989. He continued, "It's not what we are going to do, but think about [something like] that. Like a new type of watch is something we 'could do.' A watch, branded, where you don't have an 'ordinary' watch."...Right. The exec continued with an idea that incorporates solar chips and jackets to create clothing that is capable of charging cell phones. Alright, I won't lie: I'd probably buy one of those.
With that..unique direction in mind, Atari now has just under 3 years to pull itself out of the bankruptcy hole and pay back over $5.5 million in debt. So, what's this big plan that's going to save Atari from sinking into the abyss, turn everything around, and get back to being profitable? Well, the latest official statement from the publisher offers a few avenues for executing the strategy, and the target markets are all over the place. First, those classic games I mentioned earlier will be relaunched on platforms such as iOS, Android, and "online" (whatever "online" means). Which doesn't sound so bad. I mean, I wouldn't mind shooting Asteroids on my phone while I wait for the bus (while charging my phone in my spiffy, Atari-brand solar jacket). But then the strategy takes a hard left...into a brick wall.
The company then says it's planning to capitalize on "other rapidly growing markets--including LGBT, social casinos, real-money gambling, and YouTube with exclusive video content." Sort of a bizarre statement there, if you ask me--especially if the company is talking about going after those markets all at the same time (but probably not). Sure, casino games might be an option that a desperate and failing gaming company might try to take, but what's odd are the other parts of that statement. Why would Atari single out the LGBT demographic? Is the LGBT market gambling much more than anyone else? Will the solar-panel clothing only appeal to that target group? It seems like the term is just being used as a buzzword because "that's what people are talking about these days," and also, oh yeah, YouTube.
At this point, it doesn't seem like Atari really does have a plan to save itself from going under. Actually, the statement released by the company essentially confirms that it has no idea what Atari is anymore. Given Atari's storied history, it would've been exciting to see the company buckle down and devise a new strategy to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and make some awesome games. But judging by the company's latest statement, that sure as hell isn't happening anytime soon.
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