Monday, September 12, 2011

How Atari Can Really Take Advantage Of The Digital Age

While the company has seen its share of ups and downs (and a few sideways moves) over the past few decades, there's something about Atari that makes me hope they'll be around in some form for as long as people are around to play video games. Primarily a publisher for a good deal of the past decade, since 2004 they've been tapping into their history to produce a few different plug & play console variants in the Atari Flashback line. These units feature not only many classic games, but unreleased as well as homebrew tittles have managed to make it into the mainstream thanks to the small but dedicated team contracted to put the Flashback project together. As good as these systems are, I think Atari can bring things to the next level in a really cool way.

An idea hit me over the weekend while I was working on and article for another website about vintage games. My crazy thought is for Atari to produce a Flashback 3 that features not only classic 2600 games, but also packs in titles from later years as well. Imagine being able to play a selection of built-in 5200, 7800, Lynx and Jaguar titles along with some of the modern games the company has published such as Blade Kitten PLUS some of the HD updates of its classic lineup? I'd be there on day one. Of course, the added bonuses would be the console would connect to the internet and allow for optional paid downloads of other Atari titles, allow the use of different USB console controllers. Of course, the cool "hidden" features found in the previous Flashback models (optional cartridge support with some tinkering and hidden games) would also make the new model even more desirable.

I'd also imagine a online enabled console might even allow for an Atari Channel where classic to current games from the company can be viewed with free demos made available. Granted, this idea isn't exactly brilliantly original. But it nicely combines digital delivery with a physical product that has a ton of content built in, meaning even if you're not connected, you have a huge library of titles to play. That and you're preserving a nice chunk of game history that would otherwise be lost to the ages. Sure, the chances of this actually being done are slim, but hey - I just thought I'd toss yet another free idea out there and see what happens...

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