It gave us the first-ever arcade video game (a space invaders-type thing called “Computer Space”), as well as the simple, two-dimensional joys of “Pong“. It created the first-ever home games consul (on which you could only play “Pong”) and it was – once upon a time – the fastest-growing company in America.
And now, one year after it filed for bankruptcy, Atari Inc. is back, and it’s teaming up with social casino company FlowPlay; news that will warm the hearts of gamers of a certain age (ancient) everywhere.
The new deal – with Seattle-based FlowPlay – will see the creation of a multi-platform product called Atari Casino, available to players through their browsers, via Facebook, and as a mobile app. It will have a similar look and feel to FlowPlay’s Vegas World – a MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game) that includes a virtual town filled with casino games, swimming pools and nightclubs – but with the obvious addition of Atari’s classic roster of games. FlowPlay will power the back-end infrastructure and analytics, as well as taking care of customer payment transactions and in-game advertising.
“We see partnering with FlowPlay and entering the social casino market as a natural progression for us,” Atari Inc. CEO Fred Chesnais said this week. “As we move beyond gaming, taking advantage of such a rapidly growing industry that aligns well with our core business is important.”
FlowPlay CEO Derrick Morton – who started the company in Seattle back in 2006 – added that the deal would help his product reach a new audience.
“While our first party social casino business is growing at double digits for the past several months, we know that to really scale we need to have several products in the channel. Working with companies like Atari to build new products using our platform allows us to reach more consumers and ultimately build a bigger business with less risk,” said Morton.
FlowPlay – which also runs a popular non-casino social game called ourWorld – is a company on the rise: it’s raised $7.2 million in investment funding over the past eight years from Intel Capital and ASI, currently employs 45 people, and has been profitable since 2011.
The Golden Age
Atari, by contrast, has continually failed to match its meteoric success of the 1980s – the golden age of arcade video games – after which it soon found itself completely eclipsed by the rise of console game giants like Nintendo, Sega and later, Playstation.
On January 21, 2013, Atari Inc. filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The company then emerged from bankruptcy in December of last year with the intention of moving into the social gambling space – and it could be its smartest move in several decades.
According to CEO Chesnais, Atari became aware of Flowplay’s products at the Casual Connect show in Amsterdam, and realized they’d found a good fit. Due to the nostalgia factor, Atari’s classic games – such as Centipede, Asteroids, Paperboy and Missile Command – remain valuable assets. And with the uptake of mobile devices accelerating more rapidly than anyone could have predicted, and the popularity of social gaming going through the roof, it looks like Atari may have finally found the right platform.
Anyone for Pong?