Atari executive outlines remaining 2004 plans

Atari vice president Wim Stocks discusses the publisher's 2004 plans, including Pirates! for the Xbox, Demon Stone, and the next Matrix game.

At a recent press event, Atari executive vice president Wim Stocks gave a brief presentation to the press outlining the company's strategy for the remainder of 2004 on into the holidays. This included confirmation of the recent announcement of Sid Meier's Pirates! for the Xbox game console, as well as a discussion of the rest of the company's portfolio.

Stocks conceded that Atari "may not have a Halo 2 or a [Grand Theft Auto] San Andreas this holiday season," which is why the company is instead trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible with "hybrid products"--games that focus not only on the mass market, but also on the core enthusiast market.

The vice president cited the upcoming PlayStation 2 hack-and-slash game Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone as a prime example of this strategy. While the fantasy-themed action game will be easy to pick up and play and will have high production values (including voice-over from actors like Michael Clarke Duncan and Patrick Stewart), it's also heavily steeped in traditional Dungeons & Dragons lore. That is, the game should be appealing both to beginners and to expert players and fans of fantasy fiction, especially since prominent author R.A. "Bob" Salvatore wrote its story. In fact, one of Salvatore's most famous characters, Drizzt Do'Urden, makes a cameo appearance in the game.

Stocks also made reference to the company's licensed properties, such as Mark Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, which is being produced in collaboration with the successful fashion designer and graffiti artist. (The game was not shown at the press event.) According to Stocks, Ecko felt that Atari was "uniquely positioned" to bring such a game to the market and also made a brief reference to Atari's next game based on the Matrix motion pictures. However, the vice president stated plainly that it was too early to talk about the next game in the series, or about other, future games, but he did hint that the coming year would bring "some products that will draw heavily on Atari's legacy."

For more information on Atari's 2004 lineup, check GameSpot's full coverage of the Atari press event.

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