Atari sees retro-focused companies the same way Pac-Man sees power pellets.
In recent years, Atari has been figuring out what it means to be Atari. They’ve wanted to be the cool older brother to the games industry, but, after their initial success in the 1970s and 80s, have generally stumbled. I can honestly say, at this point, that they’ve found their footing in the modern era.
So, nowadays, they’ve embraced that contemporary era with open arms, while keeping alive the spirit of “retro”. Earlier this year, they acquired Nightdive Studios. Now, they’ve picked up retro-collection-developer Digital Eclipse.
I’m often wary of more established publishers buying small studios. But, Atari is such a mainstay of the industry known for the old-school vibe that it feels more like a match made in heaven.
The deal will amount to an initial consideration of $6.5 million. Then, it can earn up to another $13.5 million over ten years in earn-outs. That puts the deal at around $20 million in total.
(Editor's Note: The original article cited GameIndustry.biz for the purchase amount. The article has been revised for the original source, which was the original press release.)
Digital Eclipse is a studio name much older than many people realize and has been steeped in retro since day one. They originally started back in 1992, working on and porting, ironically, classic Atari 2600 games. Over the years, they’ve been shuffled around, rebranded as Backbone Entertainment, and eventually came back under their original name.
The modern iteration of Digital Eclipse is known for bringing classic games into the modern era as compilations. Do you like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Mega Man? Street Fighter? They’ve done collection titles for them all, among a ton more.
Last year, they went back to their roots with Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, another compilation that includes, you guessed it, classic Atari VCS games. This time around, they treated it more like a documentary, as opposed to just a list of games, and both critics and fans widely received it.
This year, they opted for a slightly different approach. Last month, we wrote about Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, also developed by Digital Eclipse, which is out in Early Access.
Earlier today, Digital Eclipse dropped a full FAQ on their blog about the acquisition, how it will be “business as usual,” and what it means for both their funding and current projects. You can check it out on their official website.