Atari SA acquires AtariAge

Apparently the folks that currently own the Atari SA hot-potato of "intellectual property" and trademarks have acquired AtariAge. On the face of it this is an incredibly positive merger. Al has been a long-standing member of the Atari community and runs an excellent forum for discussion about all things Atari. He's also been instrumental in providing a place for Atari Homebrew Authors to get physical Atari Cartridges made for their software.


I've also been around the block a few times. I've seen companies suddenly get very interested in old IP because they feel there's a market for it. Atari themselves have a long history (post Jack Tramiel) of not wanting others playing in their sandbox. The community of AtariAge was able to withstand many of these challenges simply because it's the largest number of folks that still have nostalgia and feelings for the Atari systems. Piss off the AtariAge folks and you essentially burn the Atari brand to the ground.

And therein lies the question I have for the "new-and-improved" Atari SA: how are you planning to be stewards of this community. They've already hired Al as a full-time employee (Good!) and appear to be leveraging the efforts of the community toward making new hardware and software (also good!). But good stewards of the community will prioritize the community over their own financial interests. At what point will Atari SA start sending out cease-and-desist orders to software preservation efforts? At what point will it become more difficult to be a member of the community because you didn't happen to have a large-enough checkbook to buy the Atari SA rights when they were available. And what happens when the Atari SA portfolio gets passed on to someone else who believes only their brand can be stewards of the community, not the community itself.

I feel that it's Atari SA's responsibility to enact non-revocable licenses for the old Atari IP and allow the community to continue operating as it has. These licenses could effectively codify the tacit agreements that have existed between Atari SA and the community. It would create a much more equitable partnership an already flourishing community to do more for not only the legacy of the old Atari but also the current owners.

I'm hopeful for the future but also skeptical. I'm getting the same uneasy feelings that I get when it's time to pack up my nostalgia and move on. Treat me as an equal and we can do great things together. Treat me as a customer and my priorities shift dramatically.

Hoping for the best in all of this.