Atari Inc. CEO talks E3 no-show, Star Trek Online due pre-April 2010

Q&A: Jim Wilson explains publisher's rationale for not publicly showing wares during June event; Cryptic's long-awaited sci-fi MMORPG will be out within the next 12 months.

Atari has a number of games slated to arrive in the next few months. On June 16, the resurgent publisher will release Terminal Reality's Ghostbusters: The Video Game, with internally owned Cryptic Studios set to launch its superhero-themed massively multiplayer online game Champions Online on July 14. Further out, Atari expects to launch Cryptic's other MMOG, Star Trek Online, during its current fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.

Slimer will, fortunately, not be attending any E3 parties.

Despite that notable slate, the publisher revealed this week that it would not be exhibiting its products on the show floor of the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, which takes place June 1-4 in Los Angeles. Instead, Atari intends to use the time to conduct meetings related to publishing and development plans.

To find out more about Atari's decision, GameSpot contacted Atari Inc. CEO Jim Wilson. (Atari Inc. is the US arm of France-based Atari, headed by CEO David Gardner.) "We made the decision not to exhibit months ago," Wilson told GameSpot as part of an e-mail interview, responding to initial online reports that the publisher had pulled out of previous commitments to display its products at the show. "We believe that E3 benefits the entire industry; however, we decided not to exhibit this year."

According to Wilson, the decision to take this approach was primarily due to Atari's own events, both upcoming and recently past.

"Atari US has had great success with Atari Live and title-specific events, such as our April Ghostbusters event in New York," he said. "Given our success with this strategy, and our focus on execution of upcoming releases, not exhibiting made sense. So you can plan to see more press events from us this year focused on Champions and Star Trek Online and other titles. Additionally, we recently completed another retailer road show to focus on our upcoming title launches."

Wilson also noted that Atari's decision not to exhibit at E3 was not a commentary on the current state of its soon-to-be-released games. "Most of the titles shown at E3 are those that release in the fall and holiday time frame," he said. "We have had tremendous buzz and great press surrounding Ghostbusters and Champions Online."

"The fact of the matter is that we have been very visible with Ghostbusters and the video game press, and retailers have definitely been excited with what they have seen in the game," Wilson continued. "In addition, with the game launching days after E3, our main focus is consumers, and that is where we are putting our efforts. As for Champions Online, we have been conducting press and retail meetings for some time and are planning a Champions event this summer."

The Atari executive also addressed Star Trek Online, which is expected to launch during his aforementioned holiday time frame. "Star Trek is on track to being a big launch in this fiscal year, especially given the franchise's success and response to the new film. We are thrilled to work on it and delighted with the new audience that is building with the movie. We plan to formally unveil the title in the very near future."

Wilson also commented on E3's new format, which has been upscaled to near-2006 levels after smaller events in 2007 and 2008 drew scathing criticism from the publishing community.

"We know the industry is really energized and looking forward to the new format," he said. "I think many felt underserved by the downscaled show. There seems to be a great deal of excitement that the entire games industry will now be in attendance and re-engaged. We look forward to being a part of it."

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Discussion

50 comments
TJamesA
TJamesA

dg you may be on to something...

dg3215
dg3215

I think star trek online is going to be 2010's epic failure

SSBFan12
SSBFan12

I might pass on these games.

asian_pride69
asian_pride69

Looks like a fun Ghostbusters game. Loved the movies as well :D

PSFreak1
PSFreak1

cant wait wooooooohoooooooo

Bernek24
Bernek24

Champions online was delayed, check the official site at http://champions-online.com/ Better for them to delay it and polish it up, then put out another mediocre MMORPG. I will be playing this one.

gmax
gmax

I keep thinking Atari was gone years ago...

Strife88
Strife88

Not interested in anything here. Atari used to make such good games too.

shinian
shinian

Cyber Ninjas with Lightswords? Bring it on.

dth_dlr
dth_dlr

there absence isn't that much of a big deal. however, it would have been nice to see some ghostbuster footage at E3. oh well, not long to wait for it release anyway, so no big loss.

pakhair
pakhair

Asian type of games are coming to the WEST God knows they will suceed or not

topsemag55
topsemag55

I'm not surprised at all with this announcement. Atari showed what they thought about consumers when they placed that DRM on Riddick: Dark Athena. Gamespot should be interviewing them about heavy-handed DRM tactics.

hhap52
hhap52

doesn't really take my interest

Hayabashi
Hayabashi

Kinda sad. I wanted some new information on Star Trek online. With the release of the movie recently I think it is a dumb move to not show up at E3 this year to promote the game.

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

I am not interested in these games, regardless of their absence at the E3 2009.

Junior_AIN
Junior_AIN

I saw something about ghostbusters and I'm not interested. And Star Trek, just no.

_AbBaNdOn
_AbBaNdOn

VERY disappointing. Seriously you don't have sequels to fund or games that never made it out of japan to bring over?? I think Champions Online will be freaking awesome, Star Trek who knows, and ghost busters will be lame. But how in the heck do you plan to make a ton of money off MMO's? Those things are more about steady income than big payoffs.

Just to set the facts straight MMO's are worth every freaking penny of their subscription rates. Its the ultimate in gaming.

Kelemhuma
Kelemhuma

I am very excited about Star Trek. Blizzard disappointed me. With news of new franchise MMO. I was hoping for World of Starcraft. Good Sci Fi has been missing from MMOS. I really like the idea of Star Trek Universe. Got a good team working on it. Could be totally Awesome. We will see I guess. I hope they deliver.

bunbun343
bunbun343

@ terryjameboy Is THAT what you people believe? That games that don't require you to keep paying don't even have the ability to be fun? You do realize that game developers possess the power to put the full game in the first release don't you?

steveroger
steveroger

I'm not getting it because it has a monthly fee. I can't afford that. Typically these MMOs are built merely to take up your time grinding to get you to pay for yet another month. Usually, skill is not rewarded, but time spent. Some people don't mind shelling out 15 bucks a month for the privilege ot play a game. I do. I haven't found an MMO actually worth the time and money.

slainta
slainta

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Killer6b9
Killer6b9

Terryjameboy I just don't support monthly games I would be more willing to pay monthly if the game was free then you paid a monthly fee but I refuse to pay $60 for a small fraction of a game and then have to pay a fee to continue to play it. So it seems that you hate me.......I need to go get a tissue, better yet grow up

terryjameboy
terryjameboy

i hate when people say..oh this game looks good..do we have to pay monthly? or im not gettin it because it has a monthly fee.... if the game doesnt have a monthly fee its going to be very limited and not as fun...HELLO!!?!!?

Killer6b9
Killer6b9

This lineup is either going to make or break Atari......it is sad to see a company that has been around so long put these titles as possibly the last they make. Personally I do not like Star Trek so I won't even bother to look at this game, and I will at least look at Champions as long as I only have to buy the game I will not pay monthly for any game so I don't even play WOW.

klugenbeel
klugenbeel

I would like to see Atari make a come back, so there is a lot being banked on for those 3 titles. Could careless about Champions, but i want to get my hot hands on Ghostbusters and Star Trek Online.

Gruug
Gruug

If Champions Online does well then Star Trek Online will no doubt do very well. I haven't heard a lot of "hype" about Ghostbuster from many people so I will predict that it will not do nearly as well. The downside, many people (like me) won't purchase both Champions Online and Star Trek Online as the prospect of paying to "pay to play" games is a bit much. So, releasing both might be splitting their revenue.

wwonka666
wwonka666

In so many words, they don't have much of a plan after Ghostbusters and Champions Online come out and if those fail, they may not be in business.

townsenda1
townsenda1

I can't wait for the Ghostbusters game. And Champions online sounds good too. I just hope they take there time with it so that the game is as good as it could and should be.

nurse_tsunami
nurse_tsunami

I hope they take their time with Star Trek Online and don't rush it to market half-finished to try and make a quick buck. It could be quite an excellent game given the proper attention and development.

runstalker
runstalker

Ah yes, Champions Online beta weekend kicks off tomorrow. Time to design a new character...

cid_007
cid_007

Atari: Once legendary, now just a legend.

Tr5978
Tr5978

In my mind, the only reason a game developer or publisher would miss E3 is because their games aren't ready to show. Which isn't good news for those expecting them to be released anytime soon.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Thats no fun, why skip E3

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

I think it is a big mistake for not going to E3. They get increased marketing and exposer for their products with less cost.

Azwethinkweiz89
Azwethinkweiz89

With Bill Roper on board for Champions Online I have faith that it'll be an unique gaming experience.

Warchief_Zuljin
Warchief_Zuljin

Please release Star Trek Online on schedule. We're due for a decent sci-fi MMO.

ratm247
ratm247

i agree, they probably cant afford it. i also agree that ghostbusters and star trek dont need any more publicity than merely announcing a release date to sell a ton of copies.

Paynee
Paynee

What I actually read: "Were so huge we can't fit our giant heads through the E3 doors"

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

Atari probably can't spare the money for E3.