Zombie company Atari to devour MobyGames


Atari announced on November 24 that they have reached a deal to acquire user-driven videogame database MobyGames for $1.5 million.

MobyGames is a singular resource for those interested in gaming history. Users can upload summaries, screenshots, box art, and developer information for anything from upcoming releases to games from the very dawn of the medium into a database which currently stands at 300,000 unique titles. This information is then assessed by volunteer fact checkers—think Wikipedia moderators. Unlike Wikipedia, this user-driven database is for-profit, which has already led to conflicts of interest between users and its owners.

This is not the first time MobyGames has changed hands to an ailing corporate owner with a questionable future. Gamefly Media, a “Netflix of games” rental service, acquired MobyGames back in 2011. Its 2013 redesign of the site impacted its basic functionality and prompted a community backlash. But then the site traded hands again, with BlueFlame Labs buying MobyGames from Gamefly and adopting a curatorial approach to the site, rolling back Gamefly's changes and letting it run much as it had before the initial acquisition.

MobyGames and SouljaGame, together at last (Image credit: Jerritt Clark / Getty images)

That happy ending may turn out to have only been a temporary stay-of-execution. Time will tell, but 2021 Atari doesn't exactly inspire confidence. The company is big on crypto and NFTs these days, announced a baffling real-life “hotel” project, and has indulged in an embarrassing dalliance with Soulja Boy for some reason. None of this speaks to strong business instincts or a rosy future for MobyGames, should the deal go through.

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