Few electronically produced images are more synonymous with the late 70s and early 80s than those of two sliding line segments bouncing a small white pixel or rocket ships zapping poorly drawn, 2-D asteroids in the sky. And few American brands evoke this era more than Atari does. The video game maker churned out arcade classics like Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Missile Command.
Now, years after fading from the public eye, the company is looking to make a comeback. According to a statement published on its site, Atari will be releasing a line of Internet of Things-connected devices that will range "from the very simple to the highly sophisticated."
Details are limited on what exactly the products will be, but if you're hoping for a new gaming console, it looks like the answer is a definitive "no." The statement says the "product line will include categories such as home, pets, lifestyle, and safety," and they'll be able to connect to the Internet without requiring Wi-Fi. The new product line will involve a partnership with Sigfox, a French wireless company with its own IoT network.
The statement says development will begin this year and more details will be available in the near future. Atari didn't immediately respond to a request for more information.
After dominating the burgeoning video game industry, the company fell from grace in the early 80s, when the video game bubble burst and the industry shrank from $3.2 billion to $100 million over the course of two years. Atari ended up with so much excess inventory that it literally buried 700,000 consoles and games in a New Mexico landfill.
The company stopped innovating as quickly as it once had, and newcomers Nintendo and Sega came to dominate the home console industry by the early 90s. Atari declared bankruptcy in 2013.
Atari was founded in 1972 by entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell, who also founded kid video game haven Chuck E. Cheese. Later that year, the company launched Pong, the first video game to gain mainstream popularity. The simplistic, line segment and ball-based game became a staple in bars and arcades. Bushnell sold the company to Warner Communications for $28 million in 1976. The company has changed hands several times since. Hasbro bought it in 1998 and then French holding company Infogrames purchased Hasbro in 2001, later renaming the entire subsidiary Atari Inc.
The newest announcement is Atari's latest attempt at a comeback. The company recently got involved with mobile and casino games, but nothing has approached the popularity of the company's earliest releases.
The Internet of Things industry might be a smart bet--there are currently 6.4 billion IoT-connected devices, and that number is expected to rise to 21 billion by 2020. But it's hard to know why this go-round for Atari should be any different, how its products will compete with what's already out there--and, perhaps most importantly, how Pong and Pac-Man will figure in this picture.