Atari turning to online, social games

Infogrames president Phil Harrison says gaming subsidiary is moving away from big-budget, single-player games.

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It has been almost three months since Phil Harrison quit his high-profile position as head of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios and took on a new role as president of troubled publisher and Atari-parent Infogrames.

People have been waiting to see the direction in which he is going to be steering the Infogrames ship--and in an interview with Gamasutra, some clues have emerged.

Harrison said that he believes the release of action survival game Alone in the Dark (coming up in June) will mark the beginning of a "new Atari," with an accompanying change in direction.

He said, "I don't see that we're going to be making huge-budget, single-player games in the future. Now, that doesn't mean that we won't have ambition to do really incredible games that have high quality, high execution, and high innovation, but they won't be one-player, narrative-driven, start-middle-end games."

The future lies in social games, Harrison believes. He commented, "'Swan song' is probably not the right word, but I think Atari is part of an industry in some transition from pure[ly] packaged media to an online business model and social communication and community model. If we are part of that transition, perhaps we are going to take a slightly aggressive, leading-edge role in that transition."

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