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Infogrames Reinvents Classic Atari Brand for Next-Gen Console Action

8 Nov, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

French video game publisher Infogrames is making the most of the Atari brand it acquired as part of its $100 million acquisition of Hasbro Interactive and Games.com last January.

The company has three next-generation console releases for the fourth quarter: MX Rider and Splashdown for PlayStation 2 and TransWorld Surf for Xbox will be the first games to build on the new Atari brand.

“Infogrames is not a well known brand and we have this incredible asset in Atari, which invented the video game industry 20 years ago,” says Sarah Buxton, v.p. of marketing, Infogrames. “We're going to gently roll out the Atari brand this Q4 through grassroots street marketing and build upon it next year through bigger marketing support."

The Atari brand will get TV advertising exposure beginning later this month, when the campaign for the jet ski-action racer Splashdown kicks off. All three Atari launch titles will receive print advertising, which uses the traditional Fuji symbol, minus the Atari name. (The Fuji symbol is supposed to represent Mt. Fuji.)

“We're reinventing the Atari brand through our action games, which target 16- to 24 year-old males,” says Buxton. “Similar to when Nike separated its name from the swoosh, we'll focus on the Fuji symbol in reestablishing the Atari brand with a new generation of gamers.”

Infogrames is expected to use the Atari brand for its core action titles, including next year's Unreal 2 for PC, Unreal Championship for Xbox, Stuntman for PS2, Test Drive, TransWorld Snowboarding and Transworld Skateboarding for PS2 and Xbox, as well as some of its licensed movie properties like The Terminator and Mission: Impossible.

PC and strategy-oriented games like Survivor, Master of Orion III, Monopoly Tycoon and Civilization III will retain the Infogrames brand. The Humongous-branded children's console and PC titles will also keep that name.

What console-based games are placed under the Atari brand will depend on the content. Infogrames hopes to build the Atari brand with its best titles, taking in feedback from its target demographic as it moves ahead, much as MTV built itself up in the early '80s through underground marketing.

“Atari is still the grandfather brand of the industry and we want the brand to stand for the same things it once did — great gaming experience. We just need to update the experiences to today's gamers and make the brand relevant to today's audience. We need to separate this Atari from the brand that these kids' parents played, making it cool again.”

Infogrames will continue to release classic and updates of classic Atari games like Ms. Pac Man on PC, which will be aimed at an older, mainstream audience.

“I see young people today wearing classic Atari t-shirts at video game trade shows and at malls, so there's a definite cult following,” says Anton Bruehl, president of the International Development Group, who served as president of Atari International from 1980 to 1984.

“In its time, the brand used to be second or third to Coke in brand awareness. As long as Infogrames uses the brand with quality games, which is what gamers buy, Atari should do well as a brand, especially since many American consumers don't know Infogrames made games."

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