Atari updates Pong Indie Developer Challenge, responds to concerns

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By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Atari has updated its Pong Indie Developer Challenge to improve its payout system to offer developers who enter the contest better rewards.

The contest challenges independent developers to create a new version of Pong for iOS. Winners can earn up to $100,000 in prize money and a publishing deal with Atari. Some developers have criticized the contest, saying its requirement to relinquish ownership of submissions to Atari and payout terms make it a bad deal for independents.

According to Atari, the company has extended the revenue sharing portion of the publishing agreement from one to three years in order to offer larger financial incentives. The three grand prize winners will receive prizes with potential values ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. Half will be awarded up front as a cash prize and the other half will be based on an 80/20 gross revenue split between Atari and the winning apps. The contest’s runners up will receive $5,000 cash prizes and be eligible for the same revenue sharing deal.

Atari has also added a developer showcase to further highlight the contest’s finalists.

When Inside Mobile Apps asked Atari for a statement regarding the change of rules, a company spokesperson provided us with the following statement:

While the Pong Challenge has received much positive feedback, we are aware of the concerns some have raised. Ultimately our intention with this contest is to support and celebrate both the developer community and Pong’s 40th anniversary as well as offer truly valuable rewards – cash prizes and a revenue sharing partnership (recently extended to three years) that will see a developer’s game promoted under the Atari brand. Although a few people have cast this contest as “bad,” we believe it presents a good opportunity for many real indie studios – and the positive feedback and participation we’ve seen thus far proves it.

 

Some concerns have been raised with the terms of ownership of submissions, but we’re not aiming to steal anyone’s ideas. These terms are fairly standard in development agreements and we’re asking submissions to be branded as and based off of a property we own – after all, a developer couldn’t release a submission in the form it was presented to us through the contest as it would legally violate our intellectual property.

The contest, which will be judged by David Whatley, Dave Castelnuovo, Mike Schramm and Atari Corporation founder Nolan Bushnell, is accepting entries until April 15. According to Castelnuovo, the judges are looking for entries that reflect the unique personalities and sensibilities of the developer who created them.