Atari has announced a new contest where indie-developers will compete against each other to make a reimagined version of Pong for release on iOS devices. Entries will be judged by a panel that includes the man who put the “business” into the “video game business”, Mr. Nolan Bushnell. Winners selected by the panel get a cash prize and will see their game released on the App Store with a “full revenue-share publishing agreement”. Sounds pretty sweet, but as with all things, the devil is in the details.
To enter into the contest you must agree to the rules, and this is where the contest starts to lose its luster. The panel will choose the top ten winners who get $50,000 for 1st place, $37,500 for 2nd, $25,000 for 3rd, and $5,000 for each of the remaining seven. All ten finalists will see their games published on the App Store but only the top three will be included in the “full revenue-share” agreement.
That “full” agreement gives the developers 20% of the cut from the store, and is then capped at $50K for the first place winner, $37.5K for 2nd, and $25K for 3rd place. If that limit is reached 20% payments to the developer stop and Atari pulls in the rest. Basically, if you make the most killer version of Pong ever, get first place, see the game go on to make $5m dollars in App Store sales, and you will never see a penny above $50k.
Additionally, all entries to the contest become the property of Atari and the developer has no rights to them whatsoever. So you could have your entry not even be chosen and then see your game pop up on the App Store in a couple of years and get nothing for it. That’s some great contest…
I’m also astounded by the whole idea of remaking Pong in the first place. For all intents and purposes Pong was the video game version of Tennis when it was released 40 years ago. We have had countless Tennis video games released since then, each one in a way is a reimagined version of Pong. In fact, one was just released the other day, Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition, and according to our own Chad Goodmurphy it was a fine reimagining of Pong.