|Photo Credit: AtariHotels.com (via The New York Times)|
Earlier this week, it was announced that the GSD Group will be building eight Atari gaming hotels around the country, the first of which will begin construction in Phoenix this Fall. These are expected to be destination hotels which will host esports events and offer VR gaming experiences to their guests.
As someone who grew up loving Atari, I'm a hopeful skeptic about this project. With the exception of articles about the Atari Hotel project, I could find no information about the GSD Group or any of their previous projects. Also, the majority of products and/or services that have been marketed under the Atari name over the past 30 years have been disappointing (Atari Jaguar), ridiculous (Atari Speakerhat) or, in my opinion, outright fraud (Atari Gameband). The latter was a video game watch that was announced in July 2016. It had a Kickstarter goal of $75,000. The company rocketed past that target and raised $500,000, but the project was cancelled less than two years later. Atari did not deliver a product or a refund to its backers. In recent years, Atari alleged that they were developing a new console called the Atari VCS which was scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2019. They have collected a lot of money from preorders, but the machine has not yet been released. In fact, they've only recently released a photo of an alleged prototype board which seems to offer more questions than answers.
It's also important to remember that the organization that calls itself Atari in 2020 has almost nothing whatsoever to do with the Atari that existed in the late 70's and early 80's. The current Atari exploits the happy memories that gamers (myself included) have for the Atari of our childhood. They piggybacked off of nostalgia, and they've gotten a lot of media attention for various projects in the process, but few of these projects come close to delivering on the big promises made in the press release, if they happen at all.
I hope to be proven wrong. I hope to find a beautiful and successful Atari Hotel a few years from now that gamers from around the world can visit. However, I've been down this road enough times in recent years to withhold the benefit of the doubt. When it comes to an Atari product, I'll believe it when I see it.