Atari restructuring to focus on premium games, scaling down free-to-play and mobile development

Console, PC, and support for the Atari VCS are on the horizon for the gaming division of the legacy company.

Image via Atari

Atari announced that the company was going through some big changes back in April when it named a new CEO and essentially split the entire company into two distinct companies, the Atari Gaming and Atari Blockchain divisions. Now, that decision is coming to a head on the gaming front, as Atari CEO Wade J. Rosen revealed the decision to refocus on premium game development. 

This move means that Atari, which previously moved away from working on larger games and instead released mobile and free-to-play titles, will now pivot into a new strategy with a focus on developing premium games for both console and PC markets. 

“Our intent with any gaming experience is to provide accessible and joyful moments of meaningful play,” Rosen said to gamesindustry.biz. “That’s the core of Atari and what binds our history with our future. To that end, we feel that premium gaming is better representative of this type of gaming experience and the Atari DNA.”

Rosen noted that this decision came from research into how the current gaming market “is weighing on the free-to-play business model,” which prompted Atari to change its approach to game development moving forward. 

Atari now plans “to build a strong pipeline of premium games on all platforms,” with an initial plan to launch titles by the end of March 2022. The plan is to get the software on the market and also bolster the company’s PC/console-hybrid, the Atari VCS, which was just recently released. 

This change does not mean that the company will completely abandon all aspects of free-to-play or mobile development. Instead, Atari will continue to weigh its options on a case-by-case basis, optimizing its approach to those markets and focusing on supporting successful titles with sustainable playerbases. 

Rosen did tell gamesindustry.biz that some specific titles like Roller Coaster Tycoon Stories, Crystal Castles, Castles & Catapults, Ninja Golf, and Atari Combat: Tank Fury will “either be shut down or sold off.” Additionally, Atari will be exiting its Atari Casino business in Africa and scale down its TV show production attempts. 

According to the gamesindustry.biz report, Atari plans to take on just under $6 million in losses with this pivot.