Eve Online goes to retail with Atari

Acquisition-happy publisher is to distribute the Icelandic MMOG to shops; all expansions to be included.

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It's been a busy year for Atari and parent company Infogrames. In February, high-profile Sony executive Phil Harrison joined Infogrames as president, joining ex-EA exec David Gardner, the company's chief executive officer at the troubled firm. The industry waited to see where the two heavyweights would take Atari, which has struggled financially in recent times. Some clues emerged in May, when Harrison indicated in an interview that he saw the future of the industry lying in social games. "I don't see that we're going to be making huge-budget, single-player games in the future," said Harrison talking about Alone in the Dark.

Ironically, that very game was partly responsible for boosting Infogrames' finances, but the company has moved in multiple directions since Harrison's arrival. Deals were recently announced to publish ex-Sierra Entertainment titles The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena and Ghostbusters, and the company this week announced it is going to publish Razorback's platformer The Chase: Felix Meets Felicity for the DS.

Atari's latest publishing deal, announced today, definitely takes it down the online multiplayer path that Harrison seemed to be favouring. The company is to work with Icelandic developer and publisher CCP to bring the massively multiplayer online game Eve Online, originally released in 2003, to shops. Previously, Eve Online has only been available through digital distribution. The partnership was announced at CCP's annual Fanfest event.

Eve Online, a space-based MMOG with more than 250,000 players, features a player-run economy monitored by a real-life economist. There are nine expansion packs for the game, with EVE Online: Quantum Rise due for release on November 11. All of the expansions, along with the game client and a 60-day subscription, will be available within the boxed version of the game. The summer 2009 expansion, which is reported by Web site Ten Ton Hammer to have a working title of True Exploration, was announced at Fanfest and is reportedly set for release in March, but it has not been confirmed whether the boxed copy will be in shops before or after this expansion pack is available.

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