Atari, The Venerable Gaming Brand, Hints at Mobile Publishing Plans, New IP

After a storied and sometimes tumultuous history, Atari’s pivot into mobile gaming seems to be paying off.

The company’s latest mobile game, Breakout: Boost has racked up more than 2 million downloads since its release in December, and its classic game collection Atari’s Greatest Hits now boasts more than 5 million downloads. Atari’s digital revenue has increased in step with the transition, rising to $13.4 million in the first half of the fiscal year. It now accounts for more than 60 percent of the company’s total revenue.

However, as successful as the transition has been so far, it hasn’t been entirely trouble free for the company, which made headlines last week after it had Vector Tanks — an independently developed game inspired by Atari’s Battlezone — pulled from the app store for copyright infringement.

“Since Atari made the decision last summer to focus specifically on the mobile games business we have gone into the app store and identified a number of games that infringed on our licenses, IP or gameplay,” says Maria Pacheco, Atari’s VP of mobile games when asked about the incident. “But, at the same time we’ve been working with the independent developer community.”

A fairly lean company of less than 60 people, Pacheco explains that Atari doesn’t do its development in-house. Instead, the company relies on independent developers to create games like Breakout: Boost, which was developed for Atari by Utah-based SixHourSoft, a developer that already had a high-quality Breakout-like game on the App Store, prompting Atari to start working with the company to create an officially licensed one.

Atari will be launching at least one new game a month this year, all of which will be based on classic Atari games according to Pacheco. She did not divulge any other details about the games or their developers, instead saying Atari will be making an announcement “in the next few weeks about working with developers who have been passionate about Atari brands.” When asked if the new titles would be brought to market in a similar manner to Breakout: Boost, with Atari acting more like a publisher than a developer, Pacheco again referred us to the upcoming announcement.

Overall, Atari the mobile games company is in a unique position — unlike other companies, it has an extensive back catalogue of classic games with brand recognition to work from, so the real test will begin when the company starts working on new IP, a move that Pacheco tells us is coming.

“We have a great portfolio, but it’s only so big and only certain titles will translate well to the mobile platform and we’re very well aware of that,” she explains. “Our intention is definitely to begin introducing original IP.”