I have an important announcement to make to the AtariAge community, and I’ll cut right to the chase: AtariAge has agreed to be acquired by Atari, and I have come on as a full-time employee at Atari. This won’t be a surprise to some of you, given the speculation I’ve seen over the past month.
The first thing I’d like to say is that this is not a decision I made lightly! If you asked me 20 years ago if I would have considered working for Atari (much less selling AtariAge to Atari), I would have said no. But fast forward to the present, and this is the first version of Atari I’ve seen since the 1980s that is taking many positive steps to restore the magic that we all associated with the original company, the Atari that left so many of us with enduring memories of experiencing the Atari 2600 for the first time, learning how to program on an Atari 800, or pumping quarters into the amazing arcade games produced by Atari in the heyday of arcades.
Atari is now taking its retro-related IP seriously and is creating a wide array of hardware and software based on that IP, while also creating new, original content. It is very exciting to see Atari release the 2600+, a new 2600 you can feed actual cartridges, and without giving anything specific away, this is just the beginning of what we’re going to see from Atari going forward. Atari, for the first time in years, is targeting and embracing enthusiasts like ourselves, while also making products that appeal to those who grew up with Atari and have a fond nostalgia of the brand, but aren’t steeped in retro gaming as we are.
I am very excited to be working for Atari, and with Atari’s resources I will be able to make significant improvements to AtariAge over time. This also opens up many new opportunities for homebrew developers, where original games created by the amazingly talented community at AtariAge will have a much broader audience.
My role at Atari will be multifaceted, but my primary tasks, especially early on, will be to operate AtariAge as I have been doing for the past two decades. This includes managing the forums and the AtariAge Store. Longer term, I will have more time to significantly update the games database, something I’ve wanted to do for some time, but simply have not had the bandwidth for. And I will be moving the store early in the new year to a new ecommerce platform, something I’ve wanted to accomplish for a while now.
Since AtariAge’s modest beginnings in April, 2001, AtariAge has grown significantly. The early version of the site only contained the games database and forum, with the store coming later with a handful of titles. Fast forward to 2023, and I’ve published hundreds of games for a variety of consoles, and that shows no signs of slowing down.
There is an incredible community of talented developers, consisting of programmers, pixel artists, musicians, sound engineers, artists and designers all weaving their magic to create amazing games with stunning packaging. It is remarkable the talent that is involved in creating these new games, as well as new hardware, and I am honored that so many have allowed me to publish their games in physical form in the AtariAge Store over the years. And the store has allowed AtariAge to exist without placing advertising on the site, and we intend to maintain that ad-free policy going forward.
While I have greatly enjoyed running AtariAge and the amazing community that has evolved throughout this journey over the past two decades, it’s taken an increasingly large amount of my time to manage. I had come to a point where I needed to make some sort of change, and I began scheming on ideas that would help reduce the amount of time it takes me to build and ship games. And I really have not been happy that the games database has languished over the years, as that was always an enjoyable area of the site for me to work on.
Early last year, Atari approached me about the possibility of working more closely together. Talks were slow at first, but they accelerated at the beginning of this year, and after months of going back and forth, we finally worked out a deal that benefits both parties.
What does this mean? Short-term, nothing is going to change. I will continue running the entire AtariAge website, including the forums and the store. Nothing is going to be neutered in the forums, and Atari will not have access to personal conversations, private forums and clubs, and so forth. No content is going to be removed from the forum, and those posting content will be liable for anything they post (which was already the case).
I will also be running the store, building games, shipping games, and publishing new games for the store. In fact, I am currently working on releasing over 20 new games on a variety of platforms for the upcoming Portland Retro Gaming Expo. Over time, and with Atari’s help, I will be able to more efficiently produce and ship these games, without sacrificing quality (which is very important to me). This will free up more of my time to make improvements to other areas of AtariAge, as well as embark on new and exciting projects.
Working with Atari was one of several possible solutions to bring some sanity back to my life. Other possibilities included shutting the site down and walking away, taking the store down and leaving the forum and games database, or some combination of the above. Or I could have just sold the site to some entity, whether it be Atari or another company or individual, without further involvement from me. However, it was very important to me to find a solution that allowed me to keep the forums and store running with my involvement. Working with Atari was the best way to do so while working towards the goal of reducing the hours I am working every week, while opening up new and interesting ways for Atari and AtariAge to work together that weren’t available previously.
AtariAge will still have a large, 45′ x 30′ booth at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo this year, which is 50% larger than any booth we’ve had in the past. And I expect this to continue each year going forward, with the possibility of attending additional events during the year rather than just PRGE each year. One fun thing we’re going to do this year with this extra space is have several Atari 2600+ consoles on display, complete with a large assortment of games to play on them, including homebrew games.
As I mentioned above, this does open up some new avenues for homebrew authors. For instance, Atari is interested in bringing more content to their VCS platform, and a few homebrew authors have already been working with Atari to sell their games on the VCS (such as with Amoeba Jump and Tower of Rubble). And such arrangements don’t affect the AtariAge Store. I still plan on offering digital downloads in the store once I get the store moved to new software, which will be a primary focus of mine once I get through several other major tasks (such as surviving this year’s PRGE).
There’s also the possibility of original homebrew games being released in physical form under the Atari label if they do well in the AtariAge Store. With the new 2600+ console, Atari is certainly interested in compelling, original content to augment that platform, and of course the XP line will continue along as well. And I anticipate many other interesting possibilities over time as well. I feel this will greatly benefit the homebrew community, homebrew authors, and everyone who loves seeing new games for the Atari 2600 and other classic systems.
I want to thank all the homebrew developers who have allowed me to publish their games in the AtariAge Store over the years. You are a very important reason why AtariAge still exists and has thrived, and why AtariAge remains a free and ad-free website. It’s very rewarding to help authors realize their games in physical form with beautiful packaging, and your creations have helped keep the Atari 2600 and many other classic consoles and computers fresh in our minds. I look forward to working with all of you to further expand the library of amazing games for our favorite classic consoles and computers.
I also want to express my extreme gratitude to the moderators who have helped maintain some semblance of sanity over the forums all this time, especially the global moderators who have purview over the entire forum. I greatly appreciate the time you have put into the forum, as it’s impossible for me to see everything that is posted. Without you, the AtariAge forums would likely not still exist! Here’s to another 20 years of discussing a wide variety of retrogaming topics on AtariAge!