Atari is making a major comeback and is even profitable again thanks to RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. In 2013, Atari’s current CEO Frederic Chesnais bought the bankrupt company, even though it was $34M in debt and generating less than $1M in annual revenue. Chesnais switched Atari’s focus away from hardware and instead to mobile gaming. The strategy worked. By 2018, Atari was debt free with $24M in the bank.
The Rise Of Atari
If you’re unfamiliar with Atari, they were the dominant gaming company. Atari was untouchable during the 1970s and 1980s in both arcades and home gaming systems. Some of the classic Atari game titles you might be familiar with include Atari Breakout, Pong, Centipede, and even the dreaded E.T. The Video Game. The company also groomed several of the tech industry’s future leaders. For example, Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak both got their start at Atari.
NERD NOTE: Production of E.T. The Video Game was rushed due to the film’s massive popularity. Game makers only had 5 weeks to create the game before the 1982 Christmas season. The result was disastrous. Fans hated the game and critics relentlessly panned it. In a desperate effort to dispose of the unsold inventory, Atari secretly buried 700,000+ game cartridges in an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill.
The Fall Of Atari
But the 1990s were not a good decade for Atari. Nintendo, Sega, and Sony all launched massively popular home gaming systems. With all of these great gaming options at home, kids no longer needed arcades and they slowly started closing across the country. In a few short years, Atari’s dominance at both arcades and home gaming was devastated. During the 2000s, Atari was little more than a silly joystick toy that you could attach to your TV and play old arcade games.
One of the smarter moves Atari (operating under the name Infogrames at the time) made in the early 2000s was acquiring the game studio Hasbro Interactive. The acquisition came with several notable gaming titles including the popular PC game, RollerCoaster Tycoon. Atari’s new CEO, Frederic Chesnais, took advantage of the company’s game library and shifted their focus. Instead of gaming consoles or the PC market, he targeted the smaller screen. Chesnais had his team focus all of their efforts on creating a great mobile version of RollerCoaster Tycoon called RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. The mobile strategy has been very successful for Atari and now has the company looking for other areas of growth.
Is Atari Getting Back Into The Hardware Business?
After seeing the success of Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition ($59), Atari announced it would release a new gaming console in 2019. And Atari isn’t the only classic gaming system looking to get back in the game. Intellivision, Atari’s key competitor in the 1980s, is also considering their options.
Where To Download RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch
RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch is a free download and available for both iOS and Android.