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Atari partners with Animoca to put ‘RollerCoaster Tycoon’ on the blockchain

Arcade and video game company Atari SA announced today a partnership with Animoca Brands Ltd. to publish blockchain-based versions of classic Atari games.

As part of the partnership, Animoca will receive the rights to develop and publish blockchain-based versions of the Atari mobile game titles “RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch” and “Goon Squad” globally, excluding China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

Blockchains are a distributed ledger technology that provides a trustworthy, cryptographic historical record that can record transactions and provide an accounting for currencies. The same technology is used for popular cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum.

The “RollerCoaster Tycoon” series was chosen because the “RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch” game has over 19 million downloads globally and recently added water parks and restaurants during a successful launch. As a result, the free-to-play game, and its tokens, would become widely used, providing a powerful platform for Atari to experiment with blockchain integration in its games.

Animoca will also assist Atari in exploring product development using blockchains and gaming, although the two companies did not detail exactly what this means.

“This deal marks a special moment for me because I started my career working with Atari and using Atari computers,” said Yat Siu, the co-founder and chairman of Animoca Brands. “The ‘RollerCoaster Tycoon’ franchise is, like many of Atari’s properties, a true evergreen, having been around for two decades. Given the strategic and commercial elements of this incredibly fun simulation, it is a perfect candidate for blockchain adaptation.”

“RollerCoaster Tycoon” is a game franchise that puts players in the position of being the manager of an amusement park. Players construct entertainment venues including eponymous rollercoasters, carousels, water slides and other attractions and then must manage customer expectations – such as food and restrooms – as well as maintain safety and ticket sales.

The blockchain adaptation of these games is expected to integrate nonfungible tokens as a form of monetization. Tokens are common means of monetization in the mobile game app market as part of the free-to-play model, where the game is free to download and play, but perks within the game sell for small amounts of money, often traded for in-game tokens.

This is a common use of blockchain technology across different industries, although it’s not necessary for monetizing since tokens can be produced by any company. The addition of a blockchain can increase trust in the tokens themselves, by providing cryptographic proof of ownership, but that benefit goes to the publisher because players often don’t own the tokens, which are just part of the platform.

According to this year’s annual report from SuperData Research Holdings Inc., free-to-play games generated a staggering $82 billion in revenue, or 89 percent of the total revenue generated, during 2017 across both PC and mobile. From the report, one in three people in the world, or roughly 2.5 billion people, played free-to-play games during 2017 on personal computers or mobile devices.

Gaming publishers and developers seeking to integrate blockchain technology has seen some movement in 2018. In February this year, the Gaming Standards Association announced the creation of standards addressing blockchain use in gaming. Gaming companies also explored tokenization and monetization when game engine company Crytek GmbH and Crycash partnered up and Unity Technologies SF joined GameCredits Inc.

More recently, gaming PC and peripheral maker Razer Inc. released Gamma Innovation Inc.’s blockchain “mining” app that allows gamers to earn tokens for being part of the process.

The first two new Atari games developed by Animoca will be published in the latter half of 2019. The term for the agreement between the two companies extends through to March 31, 2022, leaving time for more Atari games to get the blockchain treatment.

Image: Atari

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