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Atari To Develop Its Own Virtual World

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Second Life has inspired numerous other start-ups looking to take advantage of the hype surrounding the user-generated virtual world phenomenon.

While many companies are looking to make a name for themselves with such aspirations, Atari just wants to reclaim its piece of the video gaming pie.

Just what sort of unmitigated chaos has been wrought in the wake of Second Life’s popularity?

GigaOM counts no less than eleven different start-ups that all reference Linden Lab’s online world as the fundamental concept for their vision.

Atari becomes the twelfth such company with its announced intentions to develop a 3D world consisting mostly of user-created content.

“Let’s just say it will be PC to start with,” says Atari Online Entertainment Senior VP Chris Bergstresser. “I can’t and I won’t speak for Europe but presumably if it is a success in the US then yes, it will be coming to Europe. We would quickly open it up to other territories."

Wagner James Au of GigaOM speculates as to why the phenomenon of user-generated virtual worlds seems to be catching on like wildfire:

What we’re seeing, I think, is game publishers slowly learning to apply the logic of Web 2.0 on their own medium. Creating content is expensive, and with the sole exception of World of Warcraft (8 million users and still growing), involves an increasingly futile struggle to retain subscribers.

Traditional online worlds require a large team of designers and artists constantly adding new content, for fear that players will quickly churn through the existing experiences, get bored, and leave. (Subsequently, most MMOs spike in growth, then quickly plateau and begin declining.) Going the user-created route means new content on a regular basis, produced by subscribers, with the company only spending money to foster and police it.

Atari certainly doesn’t need to make a name for itself in the world of gaming.

Most analysts would admit, however, that the company has been living off the merits of its past successes and has done very little in recent times that could be viewed as innovative.

If Atari can manage to catch this wave and ride it in to shore, then the company could find itself at the forefront of the gaming industry once again. 

Atari To Develop Its Own Virtual World
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