Skip to main content

Atari’s latest acquisition is a game preservation power play

The Atari logo appears in gold.
Atari

Atari continues to grow its stake in the game remaster market with the acquisition of Digital Eclipse, the developer behind 2022’s fantastic Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration collection.

Digital Eclipse has existed since the early 1990s but has made a name for itself over the last decade or so in creating fantastic remastered collections like Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection. More recently, it has honed a documentary-style presentation for titles like Atari 50 and The Making of Karateka, providing thorough looks at the history of important companies and games. Atari seems interested in growing its library of IP and stake in retro re-releases, so it’s understandable why Atari would purchase Digital Eclipse following its acquisition of the System Shock remake’s Nightdive Studios earlier in the year.

It’s a $20 million acquisition, with Atari paying $6.5 million when the deal closes soon and another $13.5 million over the next decade if Digital Eclipse meets performance targets. As for what this means when it comes to Digital Eclipse functioning day-to-day, an FAQ on the developer’s website goes into more detail.

Digital Eclipse confirms that while this acquisition will give it greater access to the library of franchises that Atari owns, it is not locked into only working on Atari properties. The Gold Master Series that The Making of Karateka is a part of will continue as well, with Digital Eclipse teasing that the next entry is almost done in a recent newsletter. Ultimately, Digital Eclipse seems to hope that Atari’s support will mainly give them more resources to continue to refine projects that align with what the studio is already known for, including a Wizardry: Proving Ground of the Mad Overlord remake that’s currently in early access on Steam.

“Our experience collaborating on Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration was revelatory. The trust that Atari showed our team, and our clear mutual love and respect for the content, positioned us to produce something truly remarkable,” Digital Eclipse President Mike Mika said of the acquisition. “I know Atari will continue to champion our approach and that we will be bringing fans exciting new projects for years to come.”

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
If you love game history, you need to try Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration
The Atari logo appears in gold.

Video game collections are becoming more common these days as companies look back on their past. That’s great for game preservation, but collections like Super Mario 3D All-Stars can ultimately feel underwhelming when the end product is little more than a simple port. Atari’s classic lineup of games is no stranger to this treatment; you can play an Atari 2600 game collection on pretty much any platform you desire. Due to the overwhelming amount of Atari collections out there, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration might not seem like a compelling release at first.
That’s why it’s more of a surprise that it sets a new standard for this kind of game collection.
Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration Trailer
In practice, Atari 50 feels like a museum exhibit-turned-video game. It made me feel like I was walking through the Smithsonian’s The Art of Video Games exhibit for the first time, except everything is about Atari's 50-year history. Not only does Atari 50 contain everything from Pong to some of the weirdest titles the Atari Jaguar had to offer, but it embellishes those games with trivia, scans of game-related material from the time, and video interviews with people connected to them. Anyone who loves gaming history owes it to themselves to check out Atari 50.
Eclipsing other collections
Digital Eclipse has been bringing old games to new platforms for years -- it made Atari game collections for the original PlayStation. Over time, it has slowly put more effort into its approach, moving beyond mere emulation. Earlier this year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection included the Turtle’s Lair, which had boxes, manuals, ads, catalogs, comics, TV show clips, and development document. Atari 50 takes that one step further by transforming similar content into exhibit-like Interactive Timelines.
From its title screen, you can immediately access almost all of Atari 50’s 100-plus game lineup. The real draw, though, is choosing one of five Interactive Timelines recounting Atari’s 50-year history. Arcade Origins focuses on the founding of Atari, its earliest success, weird prototypes, and classic arcade games that were released from 1971 to 1984. “Birth of the Console” is about the creation, hits, and triumphs of the Atari 2600, while “High and Lows” discusses the video game crash of 1983 and how the Atari 5200 and 7800 fared during it.
The context art is created in and the legacy it leaves behind are as important as the art itself ...

Meanwhile, “The Dawn of PCs” recounts Atari’s efforts in the PC space from the Atari 400 and 800 in 1979 until the rare Atari Falcon’s release in 1992. Finally, “The 1990s and Beyond” covers everything else, emphasizing the Atari Lynx handheld and 32-bit Atari Jaguar home console. Games will pop up as players navigate these timelines, and you can play them at the press of a button. As is always the case with Digital Eclipse collections, the emulation is smooth, and players can access various visual filters and even the instruction manuals when pausing.
On top of that, almost every game included has some piece of trivia, scanned development document or ad, preserved commercial, or relevant interview to check out. Notable former Atari developers like Pong creator Al Alcorn and programmer Tod Frye frequently appear in these videos, but other prominent industry figures like Double Fine’s Tim Schafer and former Epic Games dev Cliff Bleszinski show up to offer their thoughts. The context art is created in and the legacy it leaves behind are as important as the art itself, so it’s incredible to see Digital Eclipse’s effort to include all this supplemental information.

Read more
For Atari, preservation isn’t just about saving old games
Atari cartridges sit in a pile.

Even though I was a child of the '90s who grew up with a Sega Genesis, my favorite console was my mother’s hand-me-down Atari 2600. It was the one console I kept hooked up to the TV in my bedroom, while my PlayStation was in the living room. Playing a game like Pitfall! was a special experience. It was almost a ritual, as I’d sit on the floor directly in front of my CRT TV, slot in a massive cartridge, and hold the joystick controller like I was giving an acceptance speech for an Oscar.

That experience isn’t easily replicated decades later. I can head to any emulation site and play Pitfall!, but it isn’t the same. It lacks the physicality of holding an old joystick or the mystique of carefully studying the key art of the cartridge before I slot it in. It’s easy to port a game; it’s much harder to preserve what it felt like to play it when it first came out.

Read more
EA just made a genius mobile gaming power play with Glu Mobile acquisition
Kim Kardashian Hollywood

Electronic Arts has been on a buying spree for the last few months – but its latest purchase was an absolutely essential one.

The publisher announced plans Monday to acquire Glu Mobile in a deal worth $2.1 billion. It’s a pairing that might not make sense at first. Why, after all, would the company behind Madden, Mass Effect, and Battlefield want a mobile gaming company best known for fare like Design Home, Diner Dash, and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood?

Read more