Updated: Sep 9
Atari Purchases AtariAge
This past Thursday marked a historic change in the realm of retro gaming. Atari, the iconic gaming company, revealed its plans to acquire AtariAge, a beloved online hub for Atari aficionados with a history spanning over 20 years.
AtariAge, celebrated for their high-quality cartridge sales of homebrews for Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, and other vintage systems, is seeing a new dawn under the Atari umbrella.
Albert Yarusso, the brains behind AtariAge, expressed his enthusiasm on the platform's forums. In his post on the forums on AtariAge, he stated:
"Atari is now taking its retro-related IP seriously and is creating a wide array of hardware and software based on that IP, while also creating new, original content."
In conjunction with its retro revival efforts, Atari recently introduced the Atari 2600+ console, compatible with original Atari 2600 cartridges. With the acquisition of AtariAge, known for its excellence in publishing new Atari cartridges, the move seems both strategic and nostalgic.
However, a peek into history shows a complex tapestry. The modern "Atari" is not the original maestro behind classics like Pong and Asteroids, nor is it the entity that gifted us the Atari Jaguar in the 1990s. Today's Atari is, in fact, a successor of a game publisher named Infogrames which now owns a majority of Atari's initial IP, trademarks, logo, and name.
AtariAge, which made its debut in 1998 as the "Atari 2600 Nexus" and later rebranded in 2001, holds a revered position in the retro gaming community. Its forums serve as a bustling gathering spot for retro gaming enthusiasts, including those loyal to non-Atari systems.
Speaking on the acquisition, Atari's CEO, Wade Rosen, remarked to Gamesindustry.biz:
"For 25 years the AtariAge community has documented Atari games and provided a valuable forum for a large and passionate community of retro game fans, collectors, and homebrew developers. By bringing AtariAge into the Atari family, we can ensure this important resource gets the support it needs to continue to fulfill its mission for years to come."
While Yarusso is optimistic about the merge, pointing to Atari's recent Atari 2600+ console launch as evidence of the company's dedication to its retro heritage, he acknowledges that the decision was not taken lightly. He assured the AtariAge community that the essence of AtariAge will remain unchanged under Atari's oversight, emphasizing the confidentiality of private interactions and a commitment to free speech.
Here's my summary of Yarusso's long-ass post:
AtariAge Community Announcement Summary
AtariAge Acquisition: AtariAge has been acquired by Atari, and the author has joined Atari as a full-time employee.
Reasoning: The decision was made because the current version of Atari aligns with the original company's vision. Atari is reviving its classic IPs while also producing new content.
Atari's New Endeavors: Atari has released the 2600+, a console for old cartridges, with more innovations expected.
Author's Role: The author will continue to manage AtariAge, focusing on the forums and AtariAge Store, and is planning future improvements with Atari's support.
AtariAge's Evolution: Since 2001, AtariAge has expanded, especially its store, which now publishes hundreds of games.
Homebrew Developers: There are opportunities for homebrew games to reach a broader audience and potentially be released under the Atari label. Some are even making their way to the Atari VCS platform.
Site Improvements: A new e-commerce platform for the store is coming, and the games database will be updated.
Partnership Background: Talks with Atari began last year, aiming to find a way to maintain AtariAge's essence while helping the author manage his workload.
Short-Term Impacts: There will be no immediate changes to AtariAge. The author will continue managing the website and store.
Upcoming Events: AtariAge will have a larger booth at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, showcasing the Atari 2600+ and other games.
Acknowledgment: The author extends gratitude to homebrew developers and forum moderators for their contributions over the years.
This announcement highlights AtariAge's acquisition by Atari, and the promising future opportunities and improvements this merger will bring to the community.
However, the sentiment isn't unanimously positive. Some AtariAge members lament the loss of the platform's independent spirit, fearing corporate influences. Controversies have already arisen regarding the removal of ROMs from the rarity guide and the mysterious disappearance of certain reproduction titles from AtariAge's offerings in recent times.
On a hopeful note, Yarusso indicated that the partnership might benefit AtariAge's homebrew game creators, providing them opportunities to feature their games on Atari's VCS platform or even gain physical publication by Atari. As he put it:
"With the new 2600+ console, Atari is certainly interested in compelling, original content to augment that platform."
For those eager to learn more about this landmark acquisition, Yarusso will be directly addressing inquiries in a special Q&A thread on the AtariAge forums.