Atari's quest for funding of a new RollerCoaster Tycoon game for the Nintendo Switch is turning into a PR disaster after its promotional video received thousands of dislikes and hundreds of negative comments.
When Atari launched its "equity-based" crowdfunding campaign to collect funds for the development of a new RollerCoaster Tycoon game for the Nintendo Switch we were already skeptical. In fact, we didn't even report about the campaign at all thinking it would turn into a yet another RollerCoaster Tycoon fiasco.
Our skepticism wasn't without reason considering RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and RollerCoaster Tycoon World were nothing like the classic hit games that made the franchise between 1999 and 2004.
Now its becoming clear that Atari's campaign is indeed turning into what one could consider a PR disaster. The campaign's promotional video has already received over 3.000 dislikes and hundreds of negative comments on YouTube.
The promotional video for the crowdfunding campaign features Atari's "Chief Operating Officer" Todd Shallbetter. In it Shallbetter notes that Atari's top 10 franchises have netted the studio more than 2 billion US dollars.
Mentioning this in a crowdfunding campaign is already iffy because the first thing that comes to mind is: "Why need crowdfunding then?". The statement alone caused a lot of negative comments with some labeling the studio's latest endeavour as plain and simple greed.
The video then continues as Shallbetter discusses the history of the franchise, but then does it in such as way that makes it seem as if Atari is primarily responsible for the franchise's success.
The franchise's success can, for the most part, be attributed to the original developer Chris Sawyer, development studio Frontier Developments and publisher Hasbro Interactive. The rights to the franchise were eventually sold to Infogrames which was later renamed to Atari in 2003.
What becomes apparent is that Atari had very little to do with the franchise's success even though the third game in the franchise was still relatively successful in terms of sales, but only because it lifted on the success of the previous two installments.
Shallbetter also notes that Atari "knows what it's doing", even though the studio's latest RollerCoaster Tycoon title RollerCoaster Tycoon World has received so many negative reviews on Steam that the "Mostly Negative" label is visible on its store listing.
Eventually the video shows various blurry scenes of a game that is more akin to the crappy mobile editions of RollerCoaster Tycoon that Atari has released over the years and not at all something that actually seems worth playing.
Near the end of the video several other studio employees talk about how the campaign is an opportunity for fans to "not buy into the larger company but to buy into the brand", which is also a curious statement considering Atari's actions are what caused the brand to be surrounded by an incredibly negative stigma.
Aside from the promotional video, the studio uses screenshots and logos of the original two games on both its crowdfunding campaign website and its YouTube video thumbnails, adding to people's frustrations.
Despite the negative responses, the crowdfunding campaign has still managed to collect $47.000 US from 92 investors in the past three weeks. However, this seems to be far from the expected amount as the website displays a goal of up to $1.07 million US in funding.
It is worth noting that the crowdfunding campaign is slightly different than your typical Kickstarter campaign because this campaign is specifically designed as equity-based crowdfunding. This means that investors will earn a part of the game's profits for a predefined set of months - if the game is a success.
Does the type of crowdfunding make a big difference? Not quite, but in theory it should attract different kinds of people as the minimum investment is $250 US.
Despite this, Atari still targets fans and typical Kickstarter consumers to invest in the game, not investment funds or triple A publishers, which is particularly wrong in this case considering the chance of failure, and thus loss of investment, is incredibly high.