The Atari you knew and loved is long-dead, and perhaps one day you might sleep inside its corpse. The company currently wearing the skin of Atari have licensed the name to people wishing to build Atari Hotels, who recently revealed their big dreams for sleep-in mausoleums in Las Vegas and Phoenix. They are: big. They are: flashy. They are: absurd. They are also far from open, so don’t go packing your copy of Ready Player One in your Atari-branded backpack with your Pong pyjamas and Centipede toothbrush just yet.
“Retro enthusiasts, casual and hardcore gamers, content creators, and esports professionals will consider Atari Hotels as a unique place to call their home away from home,” Atari Hotels said upon unveiling the new designs on Wednesday. God help us.
Atari Hotels will have retro arcades! A nightclub! A speakeasy! Themed restaurants and bars! VR and AR doodads! An Atari Hotels merch store! The designs look straight out of a sci-fi film, and seem quite unlikely:
The first two are planned for Phoenix and Las Vegas, then Austin, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle. Atari Hotels are coming from GSD Group, an “innovation and strategy agency” who’ve signed a licensing agreement with the creature currently wearing the skin of Atari, which is the French company formerly known as Infogrames.
It is wild to me that Atari the brand is evidently still strong when Atari the company are clinging to a thrice-shed skin and a handful of rights while chasing fads like crowdfunding a new console and launching a cryptocurrency. I mean, I don’t want to visit a gaming hotel at all, but I especially don’t want to visit one dedicated to this company. But that’s the difference between brands and companies.
It’s nostalgia, innit. That’s why they’re slipping DeLoreans into their marketing images, too. Tired, hollow nostalgia for a future that never came. But I am impressed the Atari logo is such a strong and enduring symbol, with three lines able to evoke so much of an era and conjure such strong feelings. Three decades on, the logo designed by George Opperman still conjures up roasty-toasty memories in enough people for an Atari Hotel to seem a good idea to anyone. The logo honks of the 80s in a way that hasn’t become naff or ironic. Of course the proposed design looks like the logo. What else could it look like?
Atari today have: a logo; a vague memory of yesteryear; and loads of weird desperate-seeming business plans. By god, I hope never to rest my head upon the pillows of its mausoleum, shower in its tepid nostalgia, or eat its reheated memories at a breakfast buffet.