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If Atari “Reboots,” Does that Make it a Startup?

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Atari is officially old enough to be cool again. According to the Los Angeles Times, the financially troubled gaming company that had its heyday in the 1970′s is now launching Atari 2.0 for a new generation of gamers and long-term fans. Chief executive Jeff Lapin and president Jim Wilson have relocated their headquarters to Los Angeles, where they are digitizing classic video games like Missile Command and Centipede.

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According to the Times, the company’s financial outlook is precarious at best:

Atari is not yet profitable, although it has almost stopped hemorrhaging money. In the most recent six-month period its operating loss narrowed to $2.7 million from $54.8 million a year earlier, while revenue fell 42% to $61.6 million.

At the same time, the new business model looks about right:

Though some of its games will be pay-to-download, Atari is embracing the increasingly popular free-to-play business model used by companies such as Playdom, which was recently acquired by Walt Disney Co. in a deal worth up to $763 million. Most players of so-called F2P games spend nothing, while a small but avid group pay for virtual items that enhance the experience.

“Over the next six months you’re going to see some of our best brands coming out as casual online games and digital downloads across multiple platforms, and you’ll see a handful of retail releases,” Wilson said.

We haven’t played Centipede since The Reagan Years arcade closed down in Fullerton. Since the hoverboards we were promised in the 80′s never materialized, we’ll settle for playing arcade games in the cloud.

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