Something strange has been going on at Atari in recent years: Under CEO Wade Rosen, who's held that position since April 2021, Atari has overseen some good re-imaginings of its old titles, culminating in a 50th anniversary game smooshing together elements of the company's history that was pretty great.
Atari has now announced via press release it's acquired "more than 100 PC and console titles from the 1980s and 1990s." The games seem to be mostly from the back catalogues of three publishers: Accolade, Infogrames and Microprose. Included among them are games from the Bubsy the Bobcat series, Hardball, Demolition Racer, and the 1942: Pacific Air War, F-117A, and F-14 air combat series. Following the acquisition Atari is going to look to re-release certain of these titles, sell merch, and most importantly "create new games based on the IP."
"This is a deep catalog that includes groundbreaking and award-winning titles from Accolade, Infogrames and Microprose," said Atari CEO Wade Rosen. "Many of these titles are a part of Atari history, and fans can look forward to seeing many of these games re-released in physical and digital formats, and in some cases, even ported to modern consoles."
As part of the deal Atari's also acquired the Accolade and GTI brands, the former of which in particular makes me rather nostalgic: Accolade was a big player in games publishing until it went down in 2000. This follows hot on the heels of last month's announcement of the purchase of the (so far excellent) Nightdive Studios, which can fairly be called a retro specialist studio, and the acquisition of the classic Berzerk game.
"There's been a lot of disappointment with Atari for a long time, and me saying that things are going to be different isn't going to change that," said Rosen in a recent interview with Axios. "I just ask that people just continue to watch what we do and just let the actions of the company in the coming years hopefully speak for themselves."
For the first time in decades, the modern form of the company (the original Atari being long-defunct) is actually producing some decent products. It's not all been fantastic: The company's reborn VCS hardware looks the part, but is pretty underpowered for what you're paying. The interest in NFTs and the blockchain remains strong, with the company having a whole division dedicated to these technologies. But as someone who's watched Atari stumble through various zombie phases where it seemed more like a t-shirt company than the gaming giant it once was, for the first time in forever it feels like Atari has something to offer, particularly with retro games.
I'm not sure that what the world needs right now is a Bubsy 3D re-release, mind you, but it looks like Atari's recent focus on re-releasing classic titles in appropriately good condition will continue, and that can only be a good thing. This is a company with an incredible heritage (and one that goes far beyond its 1970s heyday) and, while it's unlikely to be competing at the top again anytime soon, a games industry with a strong Atari will be all the richer for it.