Atari wants to bring the acclaimed RollerCoaster Tycoon series to the Nintendo Switch, but fans of the long-running series are upset at the publisher’s decision to use crowdfunding to do so.
Through crowdfunding website Start Engine, Atari is asking for people to invest in the project in order to bring the game to the uber-popular platform. Start Engine, much like Fig, allows people to invest in a product with the hope of receiving a return on their initial investment. The publisher has already met their minimum goal of $10,000 and have 89 days to reach their stated goal $1.07 million.
However, the announcement of the campaign was met with ire from fans. On both the campaign’s Start Engine page and pitch video on Youtube, fans have expressed multiple issues with Atari’s decision.
One major question is the quality of the game being developed. Atari has charged Nvizzio Creations with development duties for the game. Nvizzio previously worked on the series when Atari hired the studio to repair the much maligned RollerCoaster Tycoon World in 2016. That game was so bad that it wasn’t included in Atari’s pitch video. Even with a team that has a history with the franchise, fans have grown worrisome of Atari’s handling of the franchise after multiple titles failing to meet expectations.
Looming larger than the game itself is the mixed-messaging coming out of Atari regarding its publishing pedigree. The company loves to promote itself as a top-tier publisher, with President Todd Shellbetter claiming that the company has generated $2 billion through licensing classic franchises. Claims like these have led people to question why a company with the proclaimed revenue of Atari is resorting to asking fans to fund a new title.
The most worrisome issue is found in the smallprint on the Start Engine page. The section labeled “Irregular Use of Proceeds” details how investments contributed toward the development of the game could be used for non-developmental costs ranging from “salary paid to one’s self, a friend, or relative” to “any expense labeled ‘Travel and Entertainment’” to “any expense labeled ‘Administration Expenses’ that is not strictly for administrative purposes”. Casting any doubt that a fan’s minimum investment of $250 could be used by Atari in a non-development capacity is a huge issue and is the easiest way to dissuade people from investing in a product.
The campaign sits just under $17,000 right now, with plenty of time left to reach that $1.07 million goal, but it remains to be seen how any level of backlash will impact the cash flow for Atari’s latest attempt to revitalize the beloved theme park sim.