Atari is launching a cryptocurrency and nobody really knows why
Instead of cracking on with its still, unreleased Ataribox console, Atari has decided it’s time to break into the cryptocurrency market – because of course it has.
Atari’s new cryptocurrency – ahem – coined the Atari Token, has come along at an interesting point in Atari’s lifecycle. It may well appear to be yet another bizarre side-project for the company – such as its $130 multiplayer baseball cap game – but it appears there’s some vague method to the madness.
Under its new leadership, Atari has managed to go from being on the brink of bankruptcy to rolling in cash. It’s not entirely clear how it’s done that, but under its new ownership, it’s seeking a stake in a blockchain-based digital entertainment platform. Under the agreement of its acquisition, the Atari Token has been created and it looks as if Atari plans to use it as part of its online casino-gaming partnership with Pairplay Ltd. so players can use cryptocurrencies to gamble online.
In some regards, you can look at the Atari Token as a premium in-game currency that’s largely useless outside of the single title or ecosystem you bought it in. I can’t see individual Atari Tokens going for upwards of $10,000 a pop like Bitcoin was doing at one point before it came crashing down.
Real details around Atari Token and Atari’s plans for it are rather scant. Atari SA’s holding company issued a press release on the matter, but it doesn’t really explain a whole lot of the rationale behind entering the crowded cryptocurrency space.
If anything, it sounds more like a fad-grab than a logical move, with Atari Game Partners’ CEO Fred Chesnais sounding like he’s regurgitating some marketing spiel instead of offering thoughtful reasoning.
“Blockchain technology is poised to take a very important place in our environment and to transform, if not revolutionise, the current economic ecosystem, especially in the areas of the video game industry and online transactions,” he states in the press release. “Given our technological strengths with the development studios and the global reputation of the Atari brand, we have the opportunity to position ourselves attractively in this sector. Our objective is to take strategic positions with a limited cash risk, in order to optimise the assets and the Atari brand.”
An example of Atari’s previous bad business decisions.
It’s not too surprising that Atari hasn’t really thought out the actual flesh of this business decision though. Since coming back from the brink, the Atari of now is but a former shell of the Atari of yore. Instead of actually creating anything new of note, it earns more money by simply slapping its logo on some nonsense and sitting on the licensing money.
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The Ataribox is certainly an intriguing product, but almost nothing is still known about it. Pitched as a retro gaming machine with some new indie titles rolled in, and possibly a streaming service to boot, people pledged money towards it on an Indigogo campaign, but nothing has materialised. Pre-orders were supposed to go live, offering a launch date and the opportunity to sink between $250 and $300 into buying an Ataribox for launch. However, those plans were delayed at the last minute and we’ve not heard anything since.
Because of the company’s track record lately, forgive me for being about as optimistic of Atari Tokens’ chance of transforming cryptocurrency as I am of Atari’s baseball cap transforming headwear.