Saturday, January 23, 2010
Atari Dropped the Ball on Wii
Where the heck is Atari? The current owners of the Atari name and vast legacy have absolutely no clue what to do with it all. There have been a few "classics" compilations here or there, but they've all been poor retreads. The original classics - arcade, console, handheld, computer - have never been touched. For what reason did Infogrames buy Atari's assets, anyway?
It's obvious to me that Infogrames has the perfect home for Atari: the Nintendo Wii. Isn't that obvious to you? It should be. The Virtual Console is free money in the bank, and this is doubly so for Atari. Between the children of the '80s who are now parents, and their Millenial kids, there is a vast market for Atari. Indeed, the brand could be hotter than ever, if anyone tried to find out.
I want to see the Atari 2600 and 7800 on Virtual Console. I want the Atari 800XL computer on Virtual Console. I especially want the computer, since it could break the doors wide open for third-party publishers like Electronic Arts. We already have the Commodore 64 on VC, so there's no excuse.
Finally, the price. I want these games available as cheaply as possible: 50 to 100 Wii Points. That means a dollar or less per game, which, frankly, is where most of these classic games should be sold. You want customers to buy a batch of your games, not just the few brand-name hits. The reason we choose the familiar name over the unknown name - Super Mario over a third-party title - is all about money. We don't have much money to spend on video games. So lower the prices and keep them as low as possible.
You know you'd rush to download Warlords the second it was available. You would then download a half dozen more Atari games, just on impulse. You can't just pick up one Atari 2600 game if it's less than a buck and takes up no memory. You'll have to grab Adventure, then Circus Atari, then Air-Sea Battle, then Space Invaders and Asteroids and Missile Command. You might even pay to download Pac-Man, that wretched blocky mess. It's only a buck, who cares? The kids might like it.
And Infogrames collects free money. Is any of this clicking? Am I getting through to you, Mister Beale?