January 28, 2020

Hotel Atari promises endless Pong for nostalgic travelers

The ’70s-era gaming company Atari is making a splash into the hotel business.

It’s every Gen Xer’s childhood dream come true: Atari just inked a $600k licensing deal with real-estate developer True North Studio and strategy agency GSD Group to build 8 Atari-branded hotels. The first will break ground in Phoenix later this year.

You bet your Asteroids it’ll be tricked out

Amenities will include:

  • VR and AR installations
  • Arcades 
  • Esport venues
  • Movie theaters
  • Coworking spaces
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Gyms 

The company sees the Atari hotel as a primo destination for families as well as business travelers, which… yeah, OK.

But can 8-bit games become more than 2-bit hotel accommodations? 

After 3 decades of lackluster performance, Atari’s most recent half-year earnings showed a 16% year-over-year gross profit gain. Atari’s bottom line could get a boost if the hotels are successful, as it will take a 5% cut of hotel revenues.

But the company has been struggling elsewhere. Its systems could never compete with offerings from Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation, and in 2013 it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

A successful Indiegogo fundraising campaign in 2018 indicated that plenty of nostalgic gamers would be interested in a retro console called the Atari VCS, but the company failed to meet its delivery deadlines. 

The console’s lead architect claimed last year that he hadn’t seen a paycheck in 6+ months.

This game doesn’t always give companies a 1-up

Atari won’t be responsible for hotel operations, but it’s worth noting that similar concepts — the arcade-based theme park DisneyQuest and the Nickelodeon Hotel, for example — didn’t last long.

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