Atari Interview: The Company Has No Plans To Enter The Modern Console Market

"You should not expect Atari to enter the modern console market and compete directly with Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft."

Story Highlights

  • Atari has been in the gaming industry for over 5 decades.
  • The company has released iconic products like the Atari 2600 and is a pioneer in arcade games.
  • We spoke with Ethan Stearn, the VP of Games at Atari, over an email Q&A session.

Atari is widely recognized for its early days when it introduced groundbreaking arcade titles and video game consoles, dominating a market with little competition. The brand Atari holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and it continues to build on this legacy by releasing its classic titles on modern consoles, developing new games, and exploring blockchain technology.

While many companies have come and gone over the recent decades, Atari has remained strong through the best and worst of times, becoming a significant pillar of the video game industry. To understand more about its business and how the company has stayed relevant even after many years, we spoke with Ethan Stearn, The VP of Games at Atari, over an email interview.

Atari 2600+
Atari 2600+ Sales Exceeded Team’s Expectations At Launch – Image Credits: Atari
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on Atari?

Ethan: My name is Ethan Stearns, and I am the VP of Games at Atari.

What do you think has been the reason behind the success and relevancy of the Atari brand despite being over five decades old?

Ethan: Atari’s founder, Nolan Bushnell, often credits Atari as the first gaming brand to reach a critical mass of people around the world, and by being first, the brand will have an enduring presence and trigger a nostalgic response. The Atari brand has also always had a “futuristic” element to it, a by-product of a history of innovation and futuristic game content. This unique mix of futuristic and nostalgic is articulated in our brand tagline: Futuristic Since Forever.

People also remember the brand very emotionally, and emotion is tied to memory. Atari was often their first video game experience or perhaps their first exposure to retro gaming, a fun and often shared experience. So, people tend to associate Atari with the joy of discovery.

Over time, Atari has become as much of a pop culture brand as a gaming brand, contributing to its enduring relevance. As we look forward, Atari and its expanding family of brands will continue to focus on retro gaming, re-publishing and re-imagining games, and bringing new retro-oriented hardware to market.

The latest release in Atari's Lunar Lander series, Lunar Lander: Beyond, was finally launched last month. How has the feedback from the fans been?

Ethan: The response has been very positive; people seem to love Lunar Lander Beyond. The game appeals to older gamers who remember playing the original game in arcades, but it is also a thoroughly modern game that appeals to younger gamers who like the challenge of a gravity flier and the deep and mysterious backstory.

Yars Rising
Yars Rising Is Published By Atari And Launching Later This Year – Image Credits: Atari
Talking about the titles, what other games fans can expect from Atari for the rest of the year?

Ethan: Atari has announced that Yars’ Rising, a new title in the Yars franchise by the studio Wayforward, will be released before the end of the year. Our modern take on the Sprint Series of single-screen racing games, NeoSprint, will be released in July.

In addition, Atari’s game development studio Digital Eclipse recently announced Volgarr the Viking II and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Rita’s Rewind, while Nightdive Studios announced The Thing: Remastered and Killing Time: Resurrected. There are even more announcements to come soon.

Considering the recent success of remakes and remasters in the industry, do you intend to release more remakes? Atari CEO Wade Rosen recently mentioned a focus on revisiting older franchises and exploring innovative approaches to revive them. Can you provide any insights into whether the team has already started working on these projects?

Ethan: Almost all of our game and hardware development across Atari, Digital Eclipse, and Nightdive Studios involves existing IP. All three brands have multiple projects underway.

Following the re-release of the iconic Atari 2600+ last year, can you share whether the console launch met the company's expectations?

Ethan: Based on the reception of fans and collectors to our prior releases of collectable 2600 cartridges and engagement with fans on AtariAge, we had some confidence that the 2600+ would perform well prior to launch. The product meets particular needs: it plays the hundreds of cartridges that have been released over the last 45 years, and it connects easily to a modern screen via HDMI. That simple and compelling feature set has resonated with retro fans, and sales have exceeded our expectations.

Modern Consoles
Atari Has No Plans To Enter The Modern Console Market – Image Credits: eXputer
Speaking of the consoles, can we expect Atari to make a comeback in that market?

Ethan: Atari will continue to focus on where we can be the best in the market, and for us, that is in retro-oriented hardware. We have released the 2600+ and will ship some new accessories this summer to better support 7800 titles. We also released THE400Mini, which plays Atari 8-bit computer games. You can expect us to continue to find ways to improve access to games from our existing platforms, including the 2600, 7800, 5200, 8-bit computers, Jaguar, and Lynx. Where it makes sense for us to do that with new hardware, you will see us bring more hardware to market. You should not expect Atari to enter the modern console market and compete directly with Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. We have nothing to announce at this time.

How do you think Atari has contributed to preserving video games, especially with old titles like Pixel Ripped 1978 and Missile Command: Recharged?

Ethan: We are interested in preserving games and approaching them in many different ways. For example, we own and operate MobyGames, a community-based website dedicated to cataloguing and preserving information about every game that has ever been published. We also strive to republish and expand distribution for hundreds of games in our IP catalogue. We will continue re-introducing our classic IP in new games in collections like Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration and re-imagining games like the two you referenced.

Pixel Ripped 1978 and Missile Command: Recharged both explore classic games in ways intended to appeal to both modern gamers and fans of the originals.

The Pixel Ripped series celebrates specific eras of video game history. Pixel Ripped 1978 was an opportunity to explore and celebrate Atari’s past and the golden age of video games within the immersive experience of virtual reality.

Our Recharged series modernizes classic arcade and 2600 games by adding features that modern gamers enjoy and expect while staying true to the original gameplay. We have found that this approach appeals to players who know the original games and new players experiencing them for the first time. The modern features, including colourful vector graphics, particle effects, power-ups, unique challenge levels, and original soundtracks, allow these games to shine on modern hardware while introducing new generations to some of the most formative and influential games ever made.

Atari has been focusing on blockchain technology for over two years. Could you share the company's experience with it so far? And does Atari plan to continue investing in this technology?

Ethan: Atari did move into blockchain very, very early. Over the past few years, we have launched some exciting projects and built a community of Web3 fans around the brand. From our perspective, it is still very, very early in the evolution of this technology. We still see long-term promise in Web3 technology as a tool for connecting people, brands, and experiences, and we will continue to experiment with our community and partners.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers? Something we haven't touched upon yet.

Ethan: We are excited to connect with your readers and Atari fans worldwide. We encourage everyone to sign up for the Atari Club ( and join us on Discord.

YouTube video

Atari was founded in 1972. While the company was more focused on developing arcade games and consoles back then, it has now begun investing in different ventures, like blockchain technology. It has also strived to preserve its iconic titles and has brought them to new and old fans alike. We thank Ethan Stearns for answering our questions and Brett Buren and Jessica Timms for helping us with the interview.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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