The Next Generation Of Atari

Atari is back. Again. After the crash of Nolan Bushnell’s empire in the early ’80s, several ventures attempted to resurrect the iconic brand. Atari Interactive is the latest, emerging from chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, and is now ready to make a splash in the mobile market with a renewed focus in established verticals.

COO Todd Shallbetter explained that Atari reemerged from the bankruptcy with a sole focus on digital content. The company is now debt free, scaled and relatively lean with only 11 employees in New York City and three in Paris.

Atari is looking to the mobile ecosystem for success. It also plans on extensively leaning on the classic Atari trademarks in licensing deals. As Shallbetter tells me that could include wearable gadgets (perhaps a rebirth of gaming watches?). The company is also looking to exclusive video deals, although it’s careful to note that Atari is not looking to challenge Twitch or create a new Machinima.

Atari sees a big opportunity in hardware — think gaming-related peripheries, not arcade cabinets. Shallbetter notes that the company is early into this venture, but there are already several companies that want to incorporate the brand.

Just this year, Atari has released several modern interperations of classic games, including Haunted House, Alone in the Dark and RollerCoaster Tycoon. But that’s not enough.

For the older gaming crowd, the Atari brand certainly invokes a nostalgic warm and fuzzy. Atari pioneered the gaming world but the Bushnell of “easy to learn and difficult to master” is no longer novel. Nearly every successful mobile game now utilizes this mechanic. If Atari’s rebirth is to be successful, it will need to carefully blend the classics with unique elements. Successfully emerging from bankruptcy with its decades of trademarks intact has put the company in a great position, and it seems primed to capitalize on this fresh start.