Atari unveils indie partnership plan

Atari GO will assist outside creators with original games and remakes of publisher's retro arcade lineup; casual and online-focused endeavor will also see vintage games embedded into Web sites.

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Last year, Atari's then-CEO David Gardner revealed plans to have outside developers remake some of the company's retro hits. While Gardner's tenure as CEO ended months later, that particular goal is alive and well at the company, as evidenced by today's announcement of the new Atari GO initiative.

Faeries vs. Darklings is one of the first games produced under the Atari GO initiative.
Faeries vs. Darklings is one of the first games produced under the Atari GO initiative.

Atari GO comprises a number of programs advancing the publisher's interests in the online and mobile gaming worlds, starting with outreach to indie creators. As the name suggests, the independent developer program will see Atari work with outside studios to create original games or new titles based on the company's retro intellectual properties.

Atari online and mobile executive vice president Thom Kozik told GameSpot the arrangements will be worked out individually, with developers able to use the publisher simply for distribution or for more full-featured product support. Developers will also have influence on issues like distribution channels and pricing to suit the specific needs of each title. Whether the rights to original IP reside with the outside developers or with Atari will also be determined on a case-by-case basis.

There are more than a dozen studios working on Atari GO titles at the moment. At first, Kozik said the ratio of reimagined Atari brands to original intellectual property will favor remakes. However, he added that the initiative's output should even out starting next year, and he expects that in time the balance will tilt toward original titles.

Atari is also starting up an affiliate program in which the publisher will offer up browser-based games to other companies' Web sites. Kozik said the program is a response to the proliferation of knock-offs of Atari's arcade library that have been made for sites. By using the affiliate program, game sites will be able to offer authentic titles instead of knock-offs, and Atari will split revenues of in-game ads and microtransactions with the host site.

The Atari GO initiative will support a variety of different game types, as evidenced by its first playable products. Gamers can already see the program bearing fruit in the beta version of the browser-based match-three puzzle game Faeries vs. Darklings and the beta version of Test Drive Unlimited 2.

Would-be Atari GO partners and affiliates can find out more on the official Web site.

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