Atari is paving the way to reissue its catalog with the dreams of independent developers.
Classic Atari games like Battlezone and Asteroids are what many of us envision when we think of old school gaming. The Atari brand has gone through some rough times since those days, but the company is positioning itself to start taking advantage of Apple’s App Store by reissuing some of those classic games. Atari has already successfully relaunched Asteroids: Gunner and Breakout: Boost and more are apparently on the way. We know this because today independent game developers who created apps bearing any similarity to Atari intellectual property have been forcibly removed of Apple’s App Store. At least, that’s what has happened to Black Powder Media – the developers of Vector Tanks, which bears too close a resemblance to Atari’s Battlezone – and they claim hundreds of apps have been affected.
“Anything that has even a passing resemblance to an Atari classic has been issued a copyright infringement claim,” reads Black Powder Media’s Kickstarter page.
“Thanks to their special relationship with Apple – Atari has successfully scrubbed the app store of their perceived competition. It looks as though Apple complied without so much as a rebuttal or independent evaluation. Tank games, asteroid shooters, and so on have all been pulled,” the post continued.
Atari responded quickly to say that they must defend their IP now or risk losing the right to do so. “For companies like Atari, our intellectual property portfolio is our most valued asset,” said a representative from Atari. “While we have great respect for the indie developer community and greatly appreciate the enthusiasm that they have for our renowned properties, we need to vigorously protect our intellectual property and ensure that it is represented in highly innovative games.”
While it certainly sucks for a small-time developers to get smacked down like this, Atari kind of has to be a jerk. Like the Bethesda vs. Mojang kerfuffle, the way IP law is written means that you have to defend your property or you lose it. Apple could have notified the guys at Black Powder Media instead of just yanking the app, but that’s just how things fly in Cupertino.
Black Powder Media is taking the setback in stride though, focusing their efforts on expanding the Vector Tank game concept as part of a larger game called The Visceral Adventures of Vic Vector – which has got the right amount of alliteration to be a hit.