Atari is the kind of brand name that most over-40s should be well aware of. However, those born in the 90s may need a few pointers. Set up in 1972, Atari was an early pioneer in the arcade and video gaming industry, releasing iconic games such as Asteroids, Pong, and Missile Command. It also did a pretty good line in home consoles, most notably the 2600, of which more than 30 million units were sold.
Cutting the C***P
The early 1980s was Atari’s most successful period - a time when playing video games was all about, you know, playing video games. Instead of being subjected to the interminable cut scenes that now befoul the industry, players could focus on pure gaming instead of perceived social issues. Anyone got a time machine handy?
Sadly for Atari, it was eventually usurped by the likes of Nintendo and SEGA who took video gaming to a completely different level. But the company has made something of a comeback in recent years. In an effort to stay relevant in this utterly baffling world of ours, it released a new console known as the VCS while also unveiling a decentralized crypto-currency, the Atari Token. And on Monday, the launch of a new virtual crypto-currency casino was announced.
The new casino is to be developed in partnership with virtual gaming specialists, Decentral Games – the team responsible for Ethereum-based metaverse, Decentraland. Within this environment, users are able to buy and sell real estate while trying out apps and playing games. Happy days!! Made from pixels instead of bricks and mortar, Atari’s virtual den of iniquity is to occupy pretend space in said environment, namely the casino quarter of Vegas City.
As with the VCS console, Atari is looking to exploit its old-school legacy to the full – and who can blame them? Nostalgia-centric marketing spells big bucks these days, especially for those operating in gambling verticals. Unsurprisingly, the people at Decentral Games were rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation on Monday. The company press release read:
“By combining our expertise in building crypto casinos with Atari’s decades of experience in developing video games, we are excited for our community to immerse themselves in an innovative and new gaming experience. “
“Look forward to Atari-themed games, where nostalgia-inducing games are brought back with a twist. There will be games of luck, and games combining skill and luck. There will also be an ‘Atari special’ game where you can win by skill instead of pure luck.”
Atari are also set to benefit of course. According to a joint statement made by both companies, the virtual venture is set to attract bets in excess of $550 million in the first two years. Heady claims indeed.
In theory, blockchain technology offers plenty of benefits. For one thing, depositing and withdrawing funds using digital assets is anonymous and potentially more secure. There are also no fees, given that financial institutions and banks play no part in any transactions. So it’s not really surprising that the prospect of crypto-based casinos has got lots of people (usually those with blue hair) foaming at the mouth. But the lack of any sort of regulatory framework means that players aren’t as well protected as they could be when playing at standard online casinos.
It should also be pointed out that the Atari/ Decentral project isn’t the first of its kind. Numerous crypto casinos have launched in recent years before disappearing without trace. These include Bet King and Unikoin. OK, so these operators didn’t offer their wares in a virtual environment, nor were they powered by block-chain technologies. However, their operation models were similar. As mentioned in an article by Tech Radar, their sad demise seems to indicate an industry in decline.
In spite of the extravagant multi-million dollar projections set out in the Atari/Decentral joint statement, Atari CEO Frederic Chesnais offered a more circumspect appraisal of the new pact. Said Chesnais:
‘Through collaborating with Decentral Games, we can move the Atari gaming experience onto the blockchain’.
Grey v Green
There we are then. Perhaps Chesnais harbours doubts about the long-term sustainability of this rather odd partnership? And there’s no doubt that Atari and Decentral make for unusual bedfellows, particularly with regards to the potential user base which is going to be made up of grouchy 40 year-old retro gamers and self-entitled millennial crypto-compulsives.
We can’t wait to see how this pans out.