Atari’s Lunar Battle: Arcade Gaming Meets the Freemium Model

Atari are finding themselves in the news and hyped up as a relevant player in the gaming world with far more regularity at the moment than at any point over the last 20 years or so since the Atari Jaguar flopped back in 1993 (when it reportedly sold only 250,000 units). The reason for this is that their newest console is due to be released in 2018.

Having found some success with the release of RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 after resurrecting itself as a largely mobile and online gaming company following bankruptcy in 2013, Atari has moved away from being a console-basedgaming company to come out swinging with the release of a crossover game called Lunar Battle. Crucially, Lunar Battle manages to keep hold of the feel of the arcade games that made Atariso popular when they originally released games like Asteroids and Centipede, as well as the game that helped to inspire Lunar Battle: Star Raiders.

The Balance of the Modern World

When you think of classic arcade games, the joy they contained within them was, of course, the fact that you could put your pennies in and aim for the high score before your credit ran out (much in the same way the character of Max did exactly that in the recent Stranger Things series, which helped remind a younger generation of the arcade booths that were such an important part of life in the 1980s).

Nowadays, Atari is trying to find their place in a world where gaming isn’t about putting credit in, but instead of paying to further your playing fun. The freemium model has conquered the world of gaming and has forced the company to work out how to combine the fun of an arcade based shoot ’em up game with the need to encourage gamers to pay to play.

This balance is tricky to achieve and so it is interesting that this reviewpaints a positive view, as it looks like Atari might well have found the magic formula needed to get the balance right. Indeed, they have managed to ensure that the pay to play aspect of the game is limited enough to ensure that gamers aren’t having to splash out too much money on their base rather than on their battling, but they are still struggling to marry a classic style of gaming with the world of retro gaming.

Riding the Retro Wave

Indeed, the balance here for Atari has been about making sure that the retro element of the game, battling the invaders, has been kept free to hook gamers in, as the title and theme of the game means that few strategy game enthusiasts are going to want to spend hours farming or paying for resources.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this idea is that the world of retro games is coming back into fashion big time, with classic Nintendo consoles selling well and the trend seeming to spread far and wide. In fact, in much the same way that Star Raiders was a great game at the arcades but needed a modern twist, slot games have managed to go through precisely the same process, with gamers able to nowadays enjoy a variety of online slot games, including ones based on games like Star Raiders and featuring much of the original iconography and music on their mobile and tablet devices, proving that not only has the world of classic arcade games had to modernize in the modern era, but that even classic slot machine games have had to do so as well.

A Hit or Miss?

Overall, Lunar Battle does display the ‘pointless’ arcade feel that you play not to complete but instead to enjoy for the pure fun of it, whilst managing to slightly overcomplicate itself by ensuring gamers have to work out what resources they need to get battling again. With this in mind, the overall feeling you’re left with is one of enjoyment and a sense of old-fashioned gaming joy. However, there is that lingering feeling that Atari might just have done better to rely upon advertising revenue from the game and an initial fee to download the game. Well see!