Atari wants to get back into hardware, but not with a console

Atari's CEO doesn't see the company being limited to just software for much longer.

Atari might be a fraction of what it was 30 years ago, but its new CEO has aspirations for an expansion back into the hardware business--although he doesn't plan to do so with a new game console.

"It's more than a software brand... it's a hardware brand," Frederic Chesnais said of Atari in an interview with GamesBeat. "I don't want to say it's a hardware brand first and foremost, but it is also a hardware brand. So we are carefully looking at... you know... we have a replica of the initial Atari 2600, but that is also something that we want to carefully announce in the course of the next few years, which is that with new licensing with the right partners we build the brand not only in the software space but also in the hardware space."

Atari was the behemoth of the games industry before the crash of 1983, when it developed a number of hit games and game consoles including the Atari 2600. Chesnais isn't seeking to regain its position as the premier console manufacturer; instead, he has his eyes set on possibilities that extend beyond gaming.

"I'm not talking about a new console... but, like, a watch. A gamified watch. It's not what we are going to do, but think about [something like] that," he said. This isn't to say Atari is necessarily planning to release a watch with its name on it, as Chesnais added, "Like a new type of watch is something we 'could do.' A watch, branded, where you don't have an 'ordinary watch.'"

Chesnais thinks Atari would have a chance with something like this because, unlike defunct publisher THQ, which he singled out, Atari is "a generational brand" and "a lifestyle brand."

"To give you another idea of something we could do, you have a jacket. We have a plug-in so you can power your iPhone or Android. You had a solar chip on your shoulder so that you power... so that you never run out of batteries," he explained. "Things like this. Would you buy an Atari watch? Would you buy an Atari Jacket that you could plug and repower your iPhone or whatever device you are using? I think you would... I think you would."

Atari's history has been a long and complicated one, and Chesnais has been around for much of it over the last 13 years. He served in a variety of roles for Atari in the 2000s, including CEO of Atari Interactive. He left in 2007 before returning last year, when he purchased a significant portion of the company and was named CEO and Chairman of the Board.

"I didn't buy the company to make T-shirts and stuff like that," he told GamesBeat. "We are way, way, way beyond that."

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Twitter/Xbox Live/PSN/Nintendo Network: TheSmokingManX

Discussion

133 comments
fbgbdk4
fbgbdk4

This reminded me of a CASIO watch with a monochromatic Enduro clone my brother had in the 80s.

vackillers
vackillers

Atari just as the article points out, has always been both a software and hardware company and I would love to see what they could come up with not their no longer in the debt they used to be in. I wouldn't rule out a console of sorts though, might perhaps be more along the lines of steam box/PC rather than your traditional console though but its not out of the realms of reality that they could, once again, target the living room space they once dominated for so long.


The gadget type technology hardware they were talking about in this article also interests me as well though, phones being powered by your jacket? or even perhaps your tablet? this of course isn't a new line of thinking for such devices as this idea has been thrown around for some time now but could we really see a future where we have massive tall buildings and skyscrapers with Atari logo's beeming down upon us like the scene from Bladerunner? I'll leave that for you guys to ponder on just how real that sci-fi reality could become.

cnx2022
cnx2022

Atari is alive??????????????What the HECK??????????

mostpond
mostpond

that was my favorite game too.

mostpond
mostpond

glacius_ Alien vs predator. that was my favorite too.

omnyoto
omnyoto

Is Chesnais high or am I?


diegocopter
diegocopter

"we have a replica of the initial Atari 2600"


This is a thing? The whole sentence is worded strangely so I'm not sure I'm reading it right. Is there a first party 2600 replica on the market?

Super_C
Super_C

How about... hmmm... a watch.  Wait, no, no, I got it... a JACKET.  Yes, a jacket with like.. plugs in it and stuff.  And you could, like, plug your watch into your jacket.  Wait, no, plug your phone into your jacket... into the shoulder maybe and then, you could, like, talk on your elbow.  Or, what if your tie had, like, a little synthesizer or something.  So you could play music on your chest.  It could get power from the jacket, maybe.  I dunno.  Something like that would be totally awesome.

mikees1
mikees1

On the plus side the jacket and watchNOTawatch will be worth wads of money........when Atari goes bust again. Well if they don't bury them that is;)

homey_d_clown
homey_d_clown

I actually had a bit of hope when I first read the title for this article, and it was all lost when I read it.

How old is this guy?

He talks about technology like my Grandfather.

"A gamified watch"?

tomservo51
tomservo51

LOL, cool, you just have to wear your jacket in full sun. what's next, inflatable dartboard?


o give you another idea of something we could do, you have a jacket. We have a plug-in so you can power your iPhone or Android. You had a solar chip on your shoulder so that you power... so that you never run out of batteries," he explained.

Firosen
Firosen

I remember watching a documentary on G4 like 8 or 9 years ago about how in the 70's, Atari would have MRB's (m4rijuana review boards) to come up with ideas for new games or hardware.  This article made me think of that.

brxricano
brxricano

*remembers the 80's*


LOL, dis gunna be guud :D

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

What's this "solar chip on your shoulder"?  They can't mean the device, b/c hopefully it fits in your pocket, and therefore would not be getting sun.  Do they actually mean you have some thing on your shoulder that will gather solar energy?  I am I just really behind the times?

He said it's like a watch, but not a watch, so is it always showing?

Regardless, I definitely don't need to carry more crappy devices around with me.

kryotech
kryotech

I can't even imagine a gaming watch.......that would be horrible in so many ways, imagine guitar hero on a watch your fingers would fall off....

Rennik_Repotsir
Rennik_Repotsir

So they are leaning towards the fashion side of hardware tech? At least, I hope they know it's the fashion side of hardware tech...

chewbacca72
chewbacca72

don't worry all, Tank Pong will make a comeback on the Next Gen consoles.

DARREN636
DARREN636

I thought infrograms bought the Atari name?

So they are Atari in name only

Nothing and no-one remains from the original mega successful and in turn , mega failing company?

Saladudo
Saladudo

Atari, is it dead... or NAH???

DarkJedi8_basic
DarkJedi8_basic

For someone in the business, he sounds like he has no clue.

Lostat
Lostat

My first console was the Atari 2600 and it was absolutely brilliant fun in it's time.  If they ever do choose to get into the console race (unlikely, but just saying, if they ever did do so) then I'd take a serious look at it buying it (assuming it can go toe-to-toe against the competition).

playstationzone
playstationzone

Dont go back to hardware and looking at this comments has anyone forgot what Atari did back 1980s they destory gameing and eveyone should thanks old Ninendo owner to bring gameing back.

youngzen69
youngzen69

Ah, the 2600 with the wood grain and the classic switches. How sleek and all so late 70's elegant the Atari 2600 was. I think Atari's new CEO has a really great idea about where he wants the company to go as far as hardware is concerned. As long as those things gets build with the highest of quality and precision in mind. What people won't buy is a mass production of cheap crap. 

kristianity77
kristianity77

I got an idea Atari!  Why not make a nice spanking Android handheld similar to the ones made by companies like JXD or GPD or Archos etc.  But actually be the first company to just get it "right".  A proper handheld, with proper controls, opening up the possibility of real android gaming and all that lovely old school emulation on one perfectly functioning device.  You could take my money.

prodigy_69
prodigy_69

aaah my first gaming console right there :) <3

skipper847
skipper847

I loved kaboom and those handsets. lol.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

I'd buy an Atari product - even if it was a console. While I was very young in their heyday - I do have fond memories of the brand.

And gaming never died in 83 - it evolved. I remember everyone buying early PCs like Commodore, Atari 400/800, Tandy, or Apple II. And what did everyone do on them? They had games - lots of them. And there were great games too - EA was born and games like Summer/Winter Games, Little Computer People, Lode Runner, Spy vs Spy, Blueprint, Choplifter!, M.U.L.E., etc etc. New genres were also born like text adventures, turn based RPGs. Technology evolved as well. You can buy games on formats that were much, much cheaper than carts. Cassettes and floppy discs can copy and play multiple games. When Nintendo came around with the NES, they went back in time with cartridge based systems. Some of us avoided them as a result. But did we stop gaming in 83? No. Atari's getting a bad rap on this one.

badwedgie00
badwedgie00

Really? I'd love to see Atari come back with a brand new game console. Nintendo's pretty much already wiped out, and a new competitor is needed. The Atari 9200? It could happen.

juboner
juboner

I dont think anyone wants Atari branded wearables, maybe very very few do.

OldDirtyCR
OldDirtyCR

@diegocopter Finish the sentence.... 

"but that is also something that we want to carefully announce in the course of the next few years"

It's something being worked on that's not ready for consumers yet.

virtuasega
virtuasega

If they put out a quality 2600 and 7800 with good controllers it would sell like crazy. Just add better output options and it would be gold jerry, gold.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

@Super_C These are examples, not actually planned products.  He's telling his RnD team to think of something innovative and not necessarily game related.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

@homey_d_clown   These are examples, not actually planned products.  He's telling his RnD team to think of something innovative and not necessarily game related

OldDirtyCR
OldDirtyCR

@spacecadet25 Just reread the sentence carefully. It's a jacker with BUILT IN solar "chips" laced into the shoulders. It's not a device that attaches to jackets, it's a custom jacket. Obviously the jacket would be wired into a hidden pocket with a usb outlet or something.

fbgbdk4
fbgbdk4

@kryotech Actually, my brother had a CASIO watch with a monochrome clone of Enduro on it.

virtuasega
virtuasega

The oringal atari founders were gone after the early sucess, Nolan sold the company to warner brothers and thats who ran atari into the ground.

virtuasega
virtuasega

Ummm...that's actually what usually sells, mass production of cheap crap.

Lostat
Lostat

@Sevenizz  "Spy vs. Spy" was awesome!  The Atari2600 was my first console, which then followed up with the Amstrad CPC464.  However, my Amstrad joystick was fragile & broke quickly, whereas the Atari2600's joystick was seriously robust & last well right into the 1990s for me!