Atari’s boss wants to move back into hardware, but don’t get too excited

By Dave Cook, Monday, 19 May 2014 12:01 GMT

Atari’s CEO Frederic Chesnais has stressed that he didn’t buy the company simply to peddle t-shirts and other merch with that iconic logo on it. He’s stressed that he sees Atari as a hardware brand instead.


It follows my interview with Atari founder Nolan Busnell, who told me that the firm has been abused by a succession of shareholders more interested in making money off the Atari logo than making games. Strong words indeed.

Now, in an interview with Venture Beat, Chesnais said that when he took over the firm after it filed for bankruptcy, that there was “no ‘real’ Atari,” and asked, “Frankly, the best [known] Atari games were all released 30 years ago, right?”

With that in mind, Chesnais is steering the ten-strong Atari towards deals with third-parties as a way of revitalising the company’s strong stable of classics, but don’t expect a glut of cheap merchandising efforts and quick-fix products. He stressed, “I didn’t buy the company to make T-shirts and stuff like that. We are way, way, way beyond that.”

It’s more than a software brand … it’s a hardware brand,” he teased, then went on, “I don’t want to say it’s a hardware brand first and foremost, but it is also a hardware brand.

“So we are carefully looking at … you know … we have a replica of the initial Atari 2600, but that is also something that we want to carefully announce in the course of the next few years, which is that with new licensing with the right partners we build the brand not only in the software space but also in the hardware space.”

“I’m not talking about a new console … but, like, a watch,” he added. “A gamified watch. It’s not what we are going to do, but think about [something like] that.” Chesnais explains this imaginary concept, “Like a new type of watch is something we ‘could do.’ A watch, branded, where you don’t have an ‘ordinary watch.’”

In closing, he said, “Yes. It’s [Atari] a generational brand. Yes. It’s a lifestyle brand. You could never do that with a brand like THQ. I mean, back in the heydays, THQ was never a lifestyle brand.”

What would you like to see come out of the new Atari? Let us know below.


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