First the news and the link: Ex-Game Maker Atari To Argue To The US PTO That Only It Can Make ‘Haunted House’ Games
While Atari under a completely different management and vision did make Haunted House back in 1981 for the Atari 2600, the current ownership suddenly remembered the property again in 2010 with the release of the quickly forgotten Haunted House for a number of modern platforms; they also released an endless runner for mobile using the name and in 2014 tried and failed again with the release of Haunted House Cryptic Graves in 2014. The trademark for “Haunted House” was filed in 2010 but the term is fairly generic and there are multiple other games that have used the term, including those before the Atari 2600 title. Apparently someone over there thinks that the title is loaded with potential to keep cranking out massive failures.
I find it interesting that trying the mobile route didn’t work for them, just like it hasn’t for many big companies in trying to milk their old IPs. That’s what happens when you solely rely on the name without a vision of what it is that makes the original game charming or what makes modern games fun.
It is infuriating that the name that was once synonymous with ‘video games’ is now setting their reputation in stone as a patent troll. While I could understand their side of it in the Jeff Minter case due to how close TxK was to Tempest 2000, this shows where their real interests are in case it wasn’t clear (in the case of TxK, they could have handled that better). Money and pissing on the ‘little guy’, who actually works to be innovative and make real games.
Hopefully the US PTO doesn’t rule in their favor but regardless the outcome, I am personally boycotting them as long as they exist under the current ownership. I will not give them a single dime, not through games like that new Atari classics release on Steam, any other Flashbacks or through their current merchandise. I urge everyone else that reads this to do the same. They have done nothing to deserve anyone’s money and if one poorly reviewed release after another isn’t enough to sway you, then let their attitude towards games and other developers be it. Bleeding them dry is the only way to “Make Atari Great Again.”