Atari has launched Sunnyvale, a big new experience in The Sandbox metaverse. The virtual space is an ode to the golden age of video games and the birthplace of Atari.
The Sandbox, owned by Animoca Brands, recently unveiled its latest Alpha Season 3 with 90 new metaverse experiences. Atari is one of the biggest owners of Land, or virtual real estate, in The Sandbox. And now it is showing that it is willing to spend resources developing that Land, said Tyler Drewitz, director of Atari X, in an interview with GamesBeat.
New York-based Atari has turned 50 this year, and it remains one of the most iconic consumer brands and game makers. The Atari Sunnyvale experience is based on nine classic Atari games, and it includes a full game based on Crystal Castles.
“We think people are going to value the experience and it was worth taking time to do it,” Drewitz said. “We’re going to find out what they like. It’s a cool entry point into Web3.”
Within Atari Sunnyvale, players will be able to explore and interact with each other and with non-player characters (NPCs) based on Atari characters.
Players can also participate in a number of quests and games, like hide and seek, with winners receiving rewards. The Crystal Castles experience is a game in which players race through a maze-like castle, collecting gems and fighting off enemies. Crystal Castles is just the first of many games to come.
The Sandbox is an immersive virtual world where players can create virtual worlds and games, and take part in experiences created by others. The voxel gaming platform enables creators to craft, play, share, collect, and trade — all in a decentralized environment where they have secure ownership and copyright of their creations because all in-game items have a unique and immutable blockchain identifier. Atari Sunnyvale is launching as part of the Sandbox Alpha Season 3.
“We are incredibly excited to share Atari Sunnyvale with The Sandbox community, and we know it will draw more Atari fans to the growing platform,” said Drewitz. “I am particularly eager for people to experience the deep, wondrous environments based on our games that have been created by our development partner, Metatworld Entertainment.”
Atari sold some of its land in The Sandbox, but even after that it remains one of the largest landholders in The Sandbox, and it will continue to work with partners to develop more experiences to engage the player community over the coming years.
“The vision that the team at The Sandbox has, and the creativity and energy they bring to the project, makes them an ideal partner for Atari,” said Wade Rosen, Atari CEO, in a statement. “We will continue to experiment and find new ways to bring programming to the open world, and look forward to bringing more experiences to players.”
Atari X is an initiative that consolidates Atari’s blockchain interests into a unified operation which is wholly controlled by Atari. It was created four years ago under previous CEO Fred Chesnais, who left the company about 14 months ago. Drewitz joined in March (after 2.5 years of consulting) and he has been taking it in a new direction.
Through a combination of Web3 development partnerships, the Atari X initiative is building a robust blockchain ecosystem that intertwines gaming, utility, and community, and will ensure that blockchain remains an important part of Atari’s business and long-term strategy.
“The reason that we created this, which is one of the first things that I created when I came on board, is that Atari was such an early mover when we did license deals and partnerships, starting with this one in 2019,” Drewitz said. “We did license deals with Zed Run with Atari skins, and Atari was a first mover in blockchain. But what we didn’t have was a community or anything else.”
He added, “As you probably know, it’s very divisive between gaming and blockchain gaming and there isn’t that big of a middle ground with a crossover for fans. So with these partnerships, we were creating, but we didn’t really have a place to interact with the cool projects and the cool technologies that were being used. We just gave them the Atari name and moved on.”
But now the company is going into these Web3 projects and creating more of an engaging experience. The Atari Sunnyvale experience is a large space where you can run around as a blocky Lego-like character.
“If Web2 is direct to consumer, Web3 is direct to community,” Drewitz said. “We can create this ecosystem of Atari X. We have Twitter, a Discord, and in the past week since we launched our own project, we’re up to over 50,000 on Twitter from 3,000 just a week ago. So it’s all starting now and moving pretty rapidly.”
Drewitz said more blockchain projects are coming to help grow the ecosystem for Atari X.
“Quality gaming was lacking in early blockchain gaming,” he said. “I’m very interested in people creating great games, especially with Unreal 5 now coming into the blockchain space. Atari Sunnyvale has our favorite IPs like Pong, Centipede, Asteroids, Missile Command, Black Widow, and Crystal Castles.”
In the Missile Command area, you can see a large missile looming overhead. And you can take an elevator down to the Missile Command Center. Atari will give away some season passes for The Sandbox Alpha Season 3. The team wants to build out the Land in The Sandbox and do more cool things at a measured pace. Over time, they believe the metaverse will draw more users into a decentralized creator community. They’re creating mini-games and more.
“We’re going to involve the community and do building and asset competitions, where winners can have their creations placed on our land,” Drewitz said. “The Crystal Castles experience feels like playing on the Atari 2600.”
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