Atari Wants To Work With 'Illegitimate' Sites… After Being One Of The Earlier Supporters Of 'Pre-Settlement' Deals

from the well-that's-a-turn-around dept

Reader Alan points us to an interview with an executive from Atari, where he talks about a new program to work with file sharing sites, even as they make unauthorized copies available:

With the GO affiliate program, you’re intending to work with sites that host illegitimate versions of Atari games – it’s rare to see a company engaging with, rather than fighting, unlicensed distribution.

Truth be told, why in the world would I ever want to go after my fans? These are people who absolutely love our classic old arcade games. I joke about the fact that it seems like every computer science student, after their first year of programming class, goes off and writes a copy of Asteroids or Missile Command or Battlezone. The web is filthy with those.

Now, instead of arming up a cadre of lawyers the smart thing to do is say, “Look, you’re fans of our games, let us give you the legitimate version of the game,” and then bring those affiliates into the fold by saying, “We’ll actually share revenue with you.” They’ve been running that less than optimal, if not [coughs] a little dodgy, version of Asteroids or Missile Command, so why not just run the original one, share in the revenue and still have the same appeal to the fans they want to draw to their site? And we’ve got the library of all our other great games that we can bring to them as well.

Now some of those quotes struck me as interesting, because as you may recall, Atari was actually one of the earliest believers in “arming up a cadre of lawyers” and having them send out pre-settlement notices. It was one of the customers of Davenport Lyons, which was the predecessor of ACS:Law in the practice, and it only backed away, when it realized how much negative publicity it was receiving for threatening people if they didn’t pay up.

So it’s great to see the company looking to be a lot more embracing of ways to work with sites, and recognize that these are fans, not people to be attacked, but we shouldn’t forget that it initially approached the space very differently.

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Companies: atari

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Comments on “Atari Wants To Work With 'Illegitimate' Sites… After Being One Of The Earlier Supporters Of 'Pre-Settlement' Deals”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Good, now take the next step...

And offer more reasons to buy the original product. How about some throw ins? I see Atari-related merchandize all over the place, so how about tying some of that stuff in too? Or some template style development kits to make modifying the game simple for most people. Build the community around the older games by getting people involved. Get some folks who did Atari music remixes involved. Build it into a movement….

Hulser (profile) says:


“Atari Wants To Work With ‘Illegitimate’ Sites… After Being One Of The Earlier Supporters Of ‘Pre-Settlement’ Deals”

Well, the executive didn’t actually call the sites illegitimate, just the copies of Atari games being hosted by the sites. This may seem like a petty distinction, but from the headline, I got the impression that the executive was backhandedly bashing these sites, when in fact his attitude seems to mark a change of attitude at Atari.

out_of_the_blue says:

Atari's goal, of profiting from work long since done remains,

they’ve just changed grifting strategy. Yet another example of “monetizing” a product that doesn’t currently cost anything, so all income is just gravy. And by a generation of bottom-feeders who had *nothing* to do with original product, they’ve just somehow come into a legacy entitlement. — That “model” is what’s illegitimate, not that abstract principles concern anyone wallowing in a stream of free money.

W4RM4N (profile) says:


“Look, you’re fans of our games, let us give you the legitimate version of the game,”

I have a problem with calling people who are downloading torrents of atari games fans. The game is available in many formats for “fans” to purchase. I would think the correct way to term these people is potential fans.

In my opinion, terming them correctly will allow you to better serve your customer.

I am a fan of Zakk Wylde’s (Black Label Society) music, so I buy it. Someone who downloads the torrent is a potential fan, or not a fan at all.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Fans?

Defining fans by whether or not they have purchased something from you is a really big mistake.

Someone that likes your work (game, movie, music, paintings, etc.). Once they purchase something, they also become a CUSTOMER. Much of the Cwf+RtB idea is based on the thinking that it is MUCH easier to turn a fan into a customer than it is to make a customer out of someone who has never heard of you or your work.

W4RM4N (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fans?

I see what you are saying, and I believe you are right. I just have a hard time believing you can be a fan, but knowingly not support what you are a fan of. I’m trying to apply the CwF+RtB to this example.

I guess that my mistake is actually assuming that every fan must pay to support. So, you can still be a fan by not monetarily supporting, but maybe promoting? Maybe there are different types/categories of fans, and you need to know how to connect with each of them to get them to perform their duties. Be it a promotion fan, a paying fan, or other class of fan that has a purpose. Am I close?

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Fans?

My understanding is that in the CwF+RtB model, the fans are only potential for contribution to your [business]. Being a “Fan” is a measure of attitude (appreciation, loyalty, etc) not contribution and it is up to you to find ways to turn more of your fans into contributers (possibly including advocates, promoters, customers, etc).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Fans?

“Someone who downloads the torrent is a potential fan, or not a fan at all.”

What if they download the music, but obsessively go to every gig in their area, buy t-shirts, etc.? They’ve given much more money the artist than someone who only buys the occasional CD, and shows much more support.

As for the games, it’s very possible to be a fan but not able to afford the often extortionate prices of modern videogames.

Be careful with that narrow view.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Fans?

I have a problem with a company believing that I really should pay for Asteroids or Battlezone… AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN, in fact everytime I go to a new system. Even though the code (ROM) stays the same, I should pay up for the privilege of playing it on my phone now? Give me a break. I’ll help the emulator developers instead, thanks.

Besides, with all the quarters I pumped into the arcade machines, I probably paid the developer costs single-handedly.

R. Miles (profile) says:


…but we shouldn’t forget that it initially approached the space very differently.
I disagree and keeping this mentality does more damn harm than good because people just won’t let go.

Everyone makes mistakes. Atari’s learned from theirs. Now they’re trying to relate to fans and receiving harsh criticism for it because there are those who simply won’t let go of the past.

I’d understand it if their attempt still contained the reasons to go the cadre of lawyers route, but I saw no sign of it here.

Did Techdirt see something we didn’t?

While there was a little “kudos” in the write-up, the history lesson was completely unnecessary to bring up.

Anonymous Coward says:

I believe you didn’t quite get what they meant.

This has nothing to do with “pirate” versions of their games. This is not about “embracing fans”. This is simply saying that they are the only ones that should ever be able to make an Asteroids or Battlezone-like game and that any other similar games are “illegitimate” and should be removed. This is simply about spitting in the face of other developers.

Ryan Diederich says:

Atari isnt dead yet...

These old games still have a very powerful market, and the companies havnt yet figured out how to make money off of it. The simple solution: give it to them how they want it.

I was at the Eastern States Exposition yesterday in Springfield, MA. There was a vintage videogame booth selling old atari, NES, and SNES games.

But guess what they had? New consoles, the FC Twin can play both NES and SNES games, and they even had portable handheld versions! Of course, they probably violate copyright, but if the companies had been busier coming up with the idea rather than defending the original idea, they would be making the money.

Anonymous Coward says:

I welcome their shot at openness, but will reserve judgment for a later date.

It is a good thing they are trying to bring other people into the fold that is very nice and they are open to divide that pie it is also nice but the thing is, what happens to those that don’t make money off of it are they going to get into that action too?

I just download the entire Atari 2600 collection(500 titles originally, 10 megabytes in size, yay I’m a pirate although it doesn’t feel like it at all), because I wanted to play river raid and pitfall again after decades, and I found this collector site were one guy collected all those roms. Will those kind of people get a chance for being in the fold too? or only the ones that want to make money?

You see I believe there is space for both, the commercial and non-commercial to live together, the games can be legally freed and every one of them can act as a portal to a sales operation, that middle ground should be ok, now if someone starts selling pre-fabricated arcades as luxury items for collectors and pay their due to Atari I have nothing against that, people will create a market for it if Atari let them. People collecting those games just for the fun of it and because of sentimental reasons are the people creating the conditions for a commercial operation to start there without them Atari would have nothing, those are the people who make 8 bit graphics cool and wear it as a symbol of pride or something it would be a shame to let those people down.

Talking about Missile Command has anybody played Peguin Command 🙂

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