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Pong Indie Developer Challenge offers up to $100,000

Wednesday, 29th February 2012 00:11 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Yesterday’s Atari tease has ponied up: Indie developers have a chance to make the next official Pong game.

To celebrate the seminal, bare-bones tennis game’s 40th anniversary, Atari is asking developers to put together an iOS version of Pong.

The winning entry will score “up to” $100,000 in prize money, depending on sales, with lesser prizes for two runner ups, plus winning games will be published under the Atari brand.

Designer Nolan Bushnell will be among a panel of judges picking three winners based on four main aspects – fun, originality, visual appeal and marketability.

Reception to the contest has been mixed: Some hopefuls view it as a chance to land a professional credit, but in an editorial on Gamasutra, the rules of the competition have been called into question.

“If this were a typical publishing contract, there’s no way I would recommend any developer to sign these terms, no matter how desperate or cash strapped they are,” IGDA Board of Directors Brian Robbins wrote.

“Lesser competitions will assume ownership of the final product for just the finalists and/or winners. This one however, is very clear that Atari has full control and ownership over everything you submit to the contest regardless of whether or not you make it through any of the rounds in the competition.

“Atari will be getting 20 developers to spend a couple months building out playable versions of their games, at each developer’s own expense. Atari will then own full rights to all 20 submissions, and only half of the developers will receive any sort of monetary compensation in return.

“The final game would need to gross $5 Million in the first year, in order for the Grand Prize winner to receive their full $100,000 prize. The ‘winners’ only receive royalties for the first 12 months the final game is on sale. Further, the royalties are capped for the top 3 winners. So if the game does actually become a hugely successful hit, the upside for the developers is limited to the $25-$50k they ‘won’ already. Every dollar that Atari spends promoting the final app gets deducted off of the gross revenues, before the developers see their share. In effect, the developers are being forced to pay for the basic function that a publisher performs (marketing).”

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