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Atari Goes Social with GO; Partners with Pirates

In an interview with Edge Magazine posted Friday, Atari's executive vice president of online and mobile Tom Kozik said that the company doesn't plan to legally attack websites hosting illegal copies of its Atari Games Online (GO) titles. Instead, the company wants to integrate these sites into its affiliate program, offering chunks of the revenue pie instead of legal woes.

Atari GO, officially announced on Thursday, is the company's attempt to play "catch-up" with the social gaming scene. The new online platform will support the development of new online casual and social games. Atari said that more than a dozen studios are actively developing new casual games and social titles for the new service.

Given that, why would Atari team up with those stealing from its new social platform? "Truth be told, why in the world would I ever want to go after my fans?" he said in the interview. "These are people who absolutely love our classic old arcade games. I joke about the fact that it seems like every computer science student, after their first year of programming class, goes off and writes a copy of Asteroids or Missile Command or Battlezone. The web is filthy with those."

He goes on. "Now, instead of arming up a cadre of lawyers the smart thing to do is say, "Look, you're fans of our games, let us give you the legitimate version of the game," and then bring those affiliates into the fold by saying, "We'll actually share revenue with you." They've been running that less than optimal, if not [coughs] a little dodgy, version of Asteroids or Missile Command, so why not just run the original one, share in the revenue and still have the same appeal to the fans they want to draw to their site? And we've got the library of all our other great games that we can bring to them as well."

Kozik added that Atari benefits from sites hosting unauthorized versions because they already helped establish a fan base. This will benefit Atari in the long run as it battles for popularity against current established social networks.

"They're already out there in those same numbers, playing on those sites, but they're not connected socially--they're not getting the advantage from any of the other games in the market from us," he said. "So it's an opportunity for us to really hit the same numbers, but instead of trying to draw everybody to one social network or one portal, I can take the games to the edge, to where people are already at."

To read the full interview, head here.

  • COLGeek
    Good move, if it works. All about the money.
  • aracheb
    wow atari is setting a new standard..
    well this is what happens when you are force to kneel down and you have a meeting with reality and you humble yourself down. You actually get out of the Darwin trash can and start using your brain again.
  • HOLY COW!!!!!! Finally a smart gaming company!
  • liveonc
    Sad that I just don't believe that goodness sells as well as aggressive marketing & below the belt self-sabotage spread of crappedware on P2P. Everybody needs at least a very busy team of cheap Indian/Chinese SPAM/vira yes-men. Either vira discouragement of pirate-free, Pro/Anti SPAM bloggers, & site hacking squads. In order to get a little bit of Online Justice.
  • zerapio
    Wow, this is brilliant. Here's someone thinking outside the box.
  • Cy-Kill
    This is a good move, however, I see it pissing off the other gaming companies at first, until they decide to or not to do the same thing.
  • hellwig
    People have for years been saying that companies could help themselves if they gave the customers what they want, rather than tell them what they get. In response, those companies have been telling us to go ourselves. I recall a story not too long ago about a company suing the operator of their largest fan-site for one of their games because he had a paypal link or some kind of ads to help pay hosting costs (aside: companies and government seem to think owning, operating, and maintaining a website is done for free).

    It's refreshing to see a company take the opposite approach and work with those people. How many companies just let a product die, then go after the fans who try to keep it alive? Obviously Atari sees that there's still money to be made from these old titles, and is working to help reward the individuals that kept them alive in the minds of the customers.

    More companies should take this approach. Look at the Nintendo marketplace. I know I've purchased a few NES games to play on my Wii, even though I could easily download an emulator and a ROM.
  • fenixkane
    It's like I've been saying for years. Don't fight the pirates (it's a loosing battle), find a way to benefit from them.
  • liveonc
    fenixkaneIt's like I've been saying for years. Don't fight the pirates (it's a loosing battle), find a way to benefit from them.
    That's right! Hire them, or throw them in jail until they sign up! ;-)
  • killerclick
    Pirates should be fought at every step. Push through tougher penalties including jail time for downloaders and after a few years piracy will be eradicated in developed markets.