Atari CEO Frédéric Chesnais on blockchain, crowdfunding, and video game trends
Jul 15, 2019 · 11:52 AMAmanda Lauren
This audio was generated using Microsoft’s artificial intelligence.
Everything old is new again. From rebooting television shows and now old school video games, this truth especially applies to Atari. The company has lots of plans for 2019 which include continuing to integrate blockchain technology into their products, launching games, and resurrecting some old favorites for a new era.
The company planned a full slate of releases in 2019. Already out is Citytopia, a city-building simulation game based on the Roller Coaster Tycoon touch-screen handheld engine.
As are Foodgod’s Food Truck Frenzy, which is a collaboration between Atari and social media influencer Foodgod, aka Jonathan Cheban; and Ninja Golf, which is based on the original Atari 7800 game of the same name.
Also on the slate is a fourth game, Days of Doom, a post-apocalyptic, survival role-playing game.
I recently sat down with for a Q&A with Atari’s CEO Frédéric Chesnais to discuss plans for the future, new projects, and how blockchain technology is literally changing the game.
Do you think the resurgence of Atari is in some ways connected to the trend of nostalgia?
I would not call it nostalgia. I would say that our games do provide fun in a few minutes, with proven and addictive gameplay features. So, at a time of “multi-tasking”, e.g. talking on the phone while posting on social media and keeping an eye on some news alert, this is no surprise that our Atari games and our brand are more and more popular.
In 2018, Atari launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for the Atari video computer system. Why did you choose this specific platform for the product?
Today’s Atari is very much about community. Our fans are what keep our brand alive and we very much want to recapture the energy and excitement that the original Atari 2600 brought (and still brings) to millions of living rooms, but we had no idea just how much a completely new Atari connected device would be embraced. The Atari VCS Indiegogo campaign’s success validated the idea and allows our team to be connected with a highly engaged community of backers made up of both existing and new Atari fans.
An incredible amount of detail was paid to the aesthetics of the VCS console. Why was this so important?
For Atari, the 2600 design is iconic – just like the VW Beetle and Mini Cooper is to those brands. It’s part of the brand’s DNA and immediately recognizable, so just like when those car brands brought forth modernized versions of their products, Atari made sure that our all-new product would immediately evoke the nostalgia and emotions that already have huge equity with consumers.
How has blockchain technology influenced the gaming industry overall?
Blockchain technology has influenced the gaming industry positively in various ways such as minimizing fraudulent activities by using the crypto-economy, making payment processing cost-effective by offering a decentralized method for it and providing extra security for data stored with blockchain encryption.
How is blockchain being used specifically for Atari’s games?
We recently partnered with Animoca Brands to produce and publish blockchain-based versions of our games RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch and Goon Squad. The new titles will feature the integration of non-fungible tokens. The NFTs (non-fungible tokens) use the blockchain to ensure that an item is unique and cannot be copied and will work well with collectible items. For a game like RollerCoaster Tycoon using blockchain, you can own the coasters you create in-game and trade it with other players.
In February 2018, the brand announced their own cryptocurrency, the Atari Token. What is the status of that product?
Blockchain is here to stay, and will definitely influence many industries in the future. So we keep working in the space. We are cautious, taking a step-by-step approach, and the introduction of blockchain and features in our games with Animoca is one example of that. We will learn from these experiences to frame our future objectives. More broadly, we will keep working on our own platform, and we have always said it was a long-term goal.
The Pong Coffee, Arcade and Cocktail tables, which are based on the arcade game, are some of the brand's most interesting and fun offerings. What has been the response?
The response has been incredible! We are always thinking of new and innovative products that can elevate the Atari brand and when our licensees came to us about developing Atari branded coffee, arcade and cocktail tables we knew it would be a great fit for the brand and something our fans and newcomers alike would enjoy.
Amanda Lauren is an independent creator and not a representative of Bing or Microsoft.