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Deep-dive Q&A: How Atari's new bosses plan to bring the company back from the brink

Hayden Dingman | Sept. 12, 2014
Atari is still a name that everyone--even those outside of the games industry--seems to know.

But as a publisher, we can stay relevant and engage with the community for one year, two years, three years.

Do you consider your gambling initiative a way to fund riskier games on the narrative side or are they entirely separate?

FC: We're in the business of making games. We have to stay on the same path. We have to make sure we stay solvent.

But I'd say money comes second. The first thing is "Can we create a game or product that will attract a lot of users?" Why casino? I feel like it was a natural step for us, instead of going in other directions. I think there's a small bridge or step to go from games to gambling. After that I think we can maybe attract our audience from games to gambling a little bit.

It's not purely a financial investment because otherwise I would put the money of the company somewhere else or I'd take more risks. It's a question of taking advantage of the brand and pushing it towards where the people who know the brand are.

TS: And keep in mind there was an original 2600 game, Atari Casino. And as an adjunct to that, the original Pong machine was for a very different audience. We're now very much a family-focused and inclusive company across the board, but these games were in nightclubs and bars and people were fighting to stack their quarters to get them in. It's appealing to a little bit older demographic, and there's a certain love of the brand in some of those demographics that's very active in the casino space as well.

FC: And especially on the PC you have games and gambling, but you'll have a new category soon which we call hybrid skill-based games. That's where people spend their time and we'll be there.

A few months back you discussed getting into hardware. You mentioned the Flashback earlier, but at the time you also talked about smart watches, et cetera. Is that still a plan?

FC: Yeah, it was an example we gave at the time. The key message we gave at the time was that we're an entertainment brand. Clearly we are relevant in games, but we had the Atari 2600 at the beginning, so we are also a hardware brand. So it would be relevant for us to go into the hardware business.

That being said, you have two different questions. How, and for what type of product?

So how: we're going with a licensing business model, and the Flashback is the first one. In the very short term there's no plan to go direct with this type of business because it's very complex, it's very difficult, it's really capital-intensive.


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