Atari Looking to Make a Return as “a Hardware Brand”

Atari may be exploring new options to expand its operations as “a hardware brand.”

That, at least, is what Atari CEO Frederic Chesnais said speaking a in a recent interview. In a discussion about the company’s future following last year’s bankruptcy, Chesnais expressed a desire to expand beyond the company’s operations which are currently limited to “10 people working under the studio-production model” wherein it licenses its IPs out to “third party studios who make very good games” and companies that produce merchandise based on its franchises.

“I didn’t buy the company to make T-shirts and stuff like that,” he said.

That in mind, Chesnais described a potential future in which Atari re-enters the realm of hardware production, though not necessarily of the traditional console kind.

“I’m not talking about a new console … but, like, a watch. A gamified watch. It’s not what we are going to do, but think about [something like] that,” said Chesnais. “Like a new type of watch is something we ‘could do.’ A watch, branded, where you don’t have an ‘ordinary watch.’”

Beyond that example, Chesnais also discussed plans to produce “a replica of the initial 2600” as well as concepts such as a jacket with built in solar panels that could be used to help power a connected smartphone. It’s his hope that products such as these could help Atari grow into a “lifestyle brand” that appeals to fans and gamers on a different level than a console could. Whether or not this drive for expansion will lead the company to new success is something we’ll, of course, need to wait to see.

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2 Comments on Atari Looking to Make a Return as “a Hardware Brand”

psycros

On May 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Atari returning to hardware? Its almost like ET trying to float up out of a landfill. I loved Atari. 2600, 5200, the 8-bit computers…that was my childhood. But there’s no real value left in the brand..not as it is today. The best thing a rebooted Atari could do is produce a fairly rugged, mass market Android gaming tablet. Position it against other portables as well as mid range tablets and laptops. Put a cool neo-retro frontend on the stock OS and include several really nice alternative skins to suit most tastes. Even better, have the frontend able to create virtual buttons and d-pads on the edges of the screen, providing thumb-reachable controls for a better touchscreen gaming experience (maybe even letterboxing games if necessary). Ideally there would also be branded wireless controllers, headphones, covers, carry cases, etc. available at launch. The tablet would include emulators for every Atari console and computer ever released (maybe even the one that ran DOS). At launch, have the best versions of the 50 best-selling Atari exclusives and fully licensed third party titles easy to buy, download and install, and sell them for NO MORE than $2 each. If that pays off then put most of the the returns into getting more top selling classics into the store and building some new games based on legendary franchises such as Missile Command, Asteroids, Tempest, etc. Outsourcing would probably make more sense than building a studio, at least in the beginning. Aim for the “power casual” crowd that buys indie games from XBL and the PSN. Keep releasing DLCs and new versions to maintain the cashflow until the new Atari can become more ambitious. Incidentally there’s nothing to stop the company from releasing a more adult-oriented version of its hardware with higher specs and accessories like a stylus, branded wireless k/b (maybe with a trackpad like the Surface..heck, go nuts and put the buttons *above* the pad where they belong!). Several years before Macs became the darlings of the creative crowd there were the Atari ST computers. A budget-minded ST series tablet might be a great item for the productivity and graphic arts users, particularly if there were affordable docking stations, battery covers and similar add-ons available.

Covarr

On May 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Okay guys, I’ve got a great idea. How about “something that says Atari on it”. I swear this plan is well thought out and fool-proof, and in no way is just a restatement of the basic concept of what branding is.