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INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: David Paige (Atari VCS Marketing and Development) & Bob DeCrescenzo (Atari 7800 Developer)


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Hey All,

 

This Friday July 28th we'll have David Paige @davpa (Atari VCS Marketing and Development) and Bob DeCrescenzo @PacManPlus (Atari 7800 Developer) LIVE on ZeroPage Homebrew to talk about the current state and future of Atari Homebrew on the Atari VCS!

 

We would love for the community to chime in with any questions or concerns you may have! Please post your questions below for me to ask him!

 

- James

 

Fri Jul 28, 2023 | LIVE @ 12PM PT | 3PM ET | 7PM GMT

WATCH LIVE: https://www.twitch.tv/zeropagehomebrew/
WATCH LATER: https://youtube.com/zeropagehomebrew/

 

WATCH AT 1080p60 FOR BEST QUALITY

 

 

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Hey Dave, I'm an OG Atari homebrew developer with some reputation in the community. I would like to know your plans for engagement with the community. I'm concerned that in this acquisition process you will alienate people like myself who have, so I claim, kept the Atari name alive for the past 20+ years.  The question: what are you going to do to support our community, as opposed to profiting from it?

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Some good questions so far.  I'll throw out a softball - I'd be interested in hearing the story of how Alien Abduction by John Van Ryzin came to find its home on the Atari VCS.  It was a pretty big surprise that an original 2600 game came out for it from the original developer of H.E.R.O.  

 

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My most important question to David Paige would be: 


Why is ATARI so "ignorant" towards all ATARI users outside the United States?
There is a huge fan community in Europe and also other continents, which currently have absolutely no chance to buy the current and upcoming (physical) products legally.
With this you push extremely many people and the ATARI community in front of the head.

Are there any realistic plans to change this in the near future ?

 

Thanks & Cheers,

 

andY

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First, if anyone from Atari is reading this - welcome to AtariAge. We hope you're as passionate as we are about what we consider to be "Atari". Everyone has their own memories and definitions of what that is. For me, it dates back to playing Starship 1 in the lobby of the theater where Star Wars was showing in 1977. Being able to pretend I was flying an X-Wing or shooting the turret guns in the Millennium Falcon on that arcade game was like magic. From there, I played just-about every arcade game Atari made (Battlezone being my all-time favorite), and I finally got my own Atari 2600 in 1981. Since 2005 I've been involved in the homebrew scene, and have worked on over 50 homebrews published through AtariAge. I appreciate you taking the time to read and consider - and hopefully answer - our questions. I realize some questions probably cannot be answered because they may require speculation or revealing indeterminate future plans, but I hope you'll be forthright about why you're unable to answer them.

  1. Related to Andrew's question - will Atari be willing to work with the community for projects they wish to pursue that use Atari IP? For example a book about Atari games that was C&D'd a few years ago, or certain community awards previously shaped like Atari's logo that had to be changed to something else.
    Please remember: we're hobbyists. We don't have buckets of money to throw at licensing fees. But we have passion, knowledge, and ideas, and are glad to work collaboratively towards mutually agreeable goals.
    Remember also: we aren't to be taken advantage of. We shouldn't be expected to just hand over our hard work to Atari for them to profit from without appropriate compensation or acknowledgement.
  2. Related to licensing - AtariAge recently removed over 90 homebrews based on unlicensed properties from their store. Does Atari have any interest or plans to assist homebrew authors in acquiring licenses for homebrew games for Atari systems from other IP holders?
  3. Does Atari have any plans to re-license Battlezone back from Rebellion for its compilations? (Of all the games to lose in a bankruptcy auction...)
  4. Is Atari actively planning to pursue additional classic gaming IP acquisitions or licenses? 
  5. With all of the recent Atari acquisitions, is there a current, up-to-date listing of every IP that Atari now owns?
  6. Quantum is one of my favorite under-appreciated Atari games. Seems this would be a natural for touch-screen smartphones. Not so much a question, but a request. I'd buy it.
  7. Another request - it'd be great to see SuperImpulse Tiny Arcade versions of Atari arcade cabinets. (I've collected their whole series, including the Atari 2600.) Those are fun, affordable conversation pieces/toys/memory triggers.
  8. You'll find a lot of skeptics amongst Atari fans. I'm one of them. Atari has been badly mismanaged repeatedly over the decades, and has in many cases caused irreparable harm to their reputation and damaged relationships with those fans that grew up buying and playing Atari games. What has changed? What makes the current management at Atari better than what came before, and what are Atari's plans moving forward, that should make fans and skeptics alike believe that this iteration of Atari is any different? What is Atari planning to do to actually be taken seriously as a GAME company again, rather than just a licensor of the same few old IPs over and over, or a company making desperate cash-grabs at cryptocurrency, hotels and speakerhats?
  9. How long of a retail life do you expect the Atari "VCS" to have before its hardware is obsolete? Will there be a follow-up? How long does Atari plan to support the back-end of it (online store, tech support, software updates)?
  10. There are plenty of hardware platforms out there that Atari is already publishing software for. Wouldn't Atari be better off focusing on software, and moving away from their own dedicated hardware? Atari made hardware back-in-the-day because they had to in order to sell video games. This is no longer the case.
  11. Will Atari be publishing more games for iOS/AppleTV devices? Atari 50, Atari Mania, and most of the Recharged series remain unavailable on those platforms. (Two billion iOS users and counting...)
  12. Why should someone buy an Atari "VCS"? If you had to tell someone about it who had no knowledge of it, how would you sell it to:
    A classic Atari fan?
    A modern console/PC gamer?
    A casual (eg. smartphone) gamer?
    How would you sell it to someone who is a skeptic? Why should I buy one? My opinion of it is negatively colored by having followed it from its original announcement through a really sketchy development history. I can't walk into a local store and just play it for myself, either.
  13. Will Atari have a presence at PRGE, or other gaming events? If not - why not?
  14. The Atari "VCS" Collector's Edition website says "Offer ends April 9th". Not really a question, but a concern that Atari's own website hasn't been updated in over four months.
  15. Do you own and actively play any original (70's-80's) Atari consoles? If so, which ones? Which games are your favorites?
  16. Do you own, or have you played any homebrews for the original (70's-80's) Atari consoles? If so, which ones? Any favorites?
  17. Do you actively play any classic Atari arcade games? If so, which ones are your favorites?
  18. What are some of your favorite classic non-Atari games? (Other arcade or cartridge manufacturers/publishers.)
  19. What are some of your favorite modern games? (Modern can be anything post-1990. I'm old.)

I realize this is a lot of questions, and I doubt James will have time for everything that gets asked in this thread. But it would be great to have the questions as least passed along, with the hopes of them getting answered here at some point. If Atari is willing to actually listen to our questions, then I'm willing to put in the time to ask them.

 

I'd like to see Atari succeed. I just have yet to be convinced it can actually happen.

 

Thanks for your time.

- Nathan Strum

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13 minutes ago, Nathan Strum said:

I realize this is a lot of questions, and I doubt James will have time for everything that gets asked in this thread. But it would be great to have the questions as least passed along, with the hopes of them getting answered here at some point. If Atari is willing to actually listen to our questions, then I'm willing to put in the time to ask them.

 

I'd like to see Atari succeed. I just have yet to be convinced it can actually happen.

 

Thanks for your time.

- Nathan Strum

 

Thank you so much for these amazing questions Nathan, I would love to hear the answers to all of them as well! I hope I can fit as many of them in as possible in one form or another into the interview. 🙂

 

I can anticipate him not being able to answer legal/trademark/copyright/IP questions but I'll try to pose them in a way that he may be able to shed some light on them.

 

- James

 

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14 hours ago, Andrew Davie said:

Hey Dave, I'm an OG Atari homebrew developer with some reputation in the community. I would like to know your plans for engagement with the community. I'm concerned that in this acquisition process you will alienate people like myself who have, so I claim, kept the Atari name alive for the past 20+ years.  The question: what are you going to do to support our community, as opposed to profiting from it?

Hi Andrew, can you elaborate on what you mean by "acquisition process"? Are you referring to the IP acquisition that Atari is doing?

Edited by Dionoid
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1 hour ago, Dionoid said:

Hi Andrew, can you elaborate on what you mean by "acquisition process"? Are you referring to the IP acquisition that Atari is doing?

 

Atari the modern company appears to be on an acquisition drive for anything it seems to think "valuable" in terms of add-on to their association with retro Atari.  IP is a part of that, yes.

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2 hours ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

I can anticipate him not being able to answer legal/trademark/copyright/IP questions but I'll try to pose them in a way that he may be able to shed some light on them.

If used, I'd prefer the questions that I wrote to be asked verbatim (unless they just flat-out don't make sense, in which case I'm happy to clarify), then he can figure out a way to answer them as needed. How a question is answered (or not) is often as important as the answer itself. If you're re-posing questions to accommodate him based on what you assume he may or may not be able to share, then you're potentially leading his answers.

 

He can always read this thread in advance, if he wants to prepare for the interview.

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2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

If used, I'd prefer the questions that I wrote to be asked verbatim (unless they just flat-out don't make sense, in which case I'm happy to clarify), then he can figure out a way to answer them as needed. How a question is answered (or not) is often as important as the answer itself. If you're re-posing questions to accommodate him based on what you assume he may or may not be able to share, then you're potentially leading his answers.

 


Yes, my question was also carefully worded.

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@ZeroPage Homebrew Of course you are free to decide which questions you ask, but IMO Nathan's and Andrew's critical questions are most interesting so far. David might want to avoid answering some of these, but even just noticing this, will give us some insights.

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Just keep in mind that David Paige isn't part of Atari's management team, so probably won't be able to answer questions related to IP acquisitions or reasoning behind them. But he probably has a view on it :)

David's job is basically to get more games into the Atari VCS store, thus developing the platform. Here is a short introduction of David from half a year ago: https://forums.atariage.com/topic/344546-someone-to-blame-at-atari-and-yell-at/

Edited by Dionoid
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12 minutes ago, Dionoid said:

David's job is basically to get more games into the Atari VCS store, thus developing the platform.  

 

Even then he should be aware of Atari's plans. There is a big difference between just adding games to a platform and removing games from other sources too. 

 

BTW: @AlbertI tried to remove the quoted link, but via mobile phone this seems impossible. Any tips? 

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16 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

 

You'll find a lot of skeptics amongst Atari fans. I'm one of them. Atari has been badly mismanaged repeatedly over the decades, and has in many cases caused irreparable harm to their reputation and damaged relationships with those fans that grew up buying and playing Atari games. What has changed? What makes the current management at Atari better than what came before, and what are Atari's plans moving forward, that should make fans and skeptics alike believe that this iteration of Atari is any different? 

 

I am reminded of my interaction with Atari's legal people some years ago regarding my (ex) domain 'atari2600.org'.
I'm one of those skeptics. Big time.

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1 hour ago, Andrew Davie said:

I am reminded of my interaction with Atari's legal people some years ago regarding my (ex) domain 'atari2600.org'.
I'm one of those skeptics. Big time.

I remember that "Atari" asked me about Thrust to release it with an emulator on some device. At first I said OK and adapted the game according to their needs (I still have the ROM). But then "Atari"'s lawyers demanded the unlimited rights on all platforms. Of coarse I skipped. 

 

There are just too many negative stories about "Atari" from the past to be not a skeptic. 

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8 hours ago, Dionoid said:

Just keep in mind that David Paige isn't part of Atari's management team, so probably won't be able to answer questions related to IP acquisitions or reasoning behind them. But he probably has a view on it :)

David's job is basically to get more games into the Atari VCS store, thus developing the platform. Here is a short introduction of David from half a year ago: https://forums.atariage.com/topic/344546-someone-to-blame-at-atari-and-yell-at/

Even if he's not part of management, he is doing this interview as a representative of Atari. As their conduit to this community, he should be communicating these questions and concerns to the higher-ups at Atari. Whether they respond or not will speak volumes about how much they're genuinely interested in engaging with this community and repairing their image.

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@ZeroPage Homebrew: I´m sorry that I confused you. I see you said in the Interview , you don´t now what I mean 😉

 

With my metaphor : "With this you push extremely many people and the ATARI community in front of the head."

 

I mean: It´s like "get a punch in the face"

 

Cheers,

andY

 
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1 hour ago, andymanone said:

@ZeroPage Homebrew: I´m sorry that I confused you. I see you said in the Interview , you don´t now what I mean 😉

 

With my metaphor : "With this you push extremely many people and the ATARI community in front of the head."

 

I mean: It´s like "get a punch in the face"

What? The interview? :? 

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2 hours ago, andymanone said:

@ZeroPage Homebrew: I´m sorry that I confused you. I see you said in the Interview , you don´t now what I mean 😉

 

With my metaphor : "With this you push extremely many people and the ATARI community in front of the head."


I mean: It´s like "get a punch in the face"


Cheers,

andY

 

No problem Andy, thanks for your question!

 

- James

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I found the interviews pretty interesting. David seems like a nice guy and he also seems well informed (except maybe when he talked about the pricing and that 2600 games might be priced lower than 7800, because of the simpler hardware). 

 

Of course (like David meant too), action speaks louder than words. Personally I will watch closely what "Atari" is doing in the next time. As of now, I am staying skeptic.

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