Yesterday I got an email with a rather curious subject line. The email said “Unique Investment Opportunity” and nothing else. Usually, this would be an easy catch for every kind of spam filter, but this email was sent by Atari, which might have persuaded the filter to put it in the inbox instead.
So, is Atari having issues, do they ask me, in person, to invest in them? Nope. This is just part of their typical newsletter distribution, and I suppose that it went to thousands of gamers, not venture capitalists and not investors.
Equity from the crowd
They want the gamers and other fans of the brand to support their equity-based crowdfunding campaign to bring RollerCoaster Tycoon to the Nintendo Switch. Together with StartEngine, they are not selling early-access or alpha copies of the game, but shares of the products revenue. I haven’t heard of such an approach before, so the subject line “Unique Investment Opportunity” might not have been wrong after all.
To do this, they have created a wholly-owned subsidiary that goes by the name “Atari Game Partners,” and the chosen developer will be Nvizzio Creations, who previously also worked on titles such as RollerCoaster Tycoon World, ROKH, Sweet Sweet War, Fashion Week Live, and Lego. Last year we saw the Ataribox crowdfunding campaign from Atari so that’s not a first.
With the earnings of the campaign, Atari will finance the development of a new installment of the popular RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise. The backers of this campaign will become investors and hopefully benefit from the game’s distribution as soon as it launches. If the release is not successful, Atari’s loss will be significantly smaller, compared to a regular release not leveraging crowdfunding. They either wanted to give their fans an opportunity to make some coin, or they just didn’t want to accept the risk of a potentially unsuccessful release.
Interesting but not without risk
In their email, they write, “This unique, limited-time investment opportunity allows fans to become investors and bring RollerCoaster Tycoon to the Nintendo Switch. As an investor, you will participate in a revenue share from the game’s distribution as soon as it launches.”
On the StartEngine campaign website, they write, “Invest any amount into the campaign (with $250 as a minimum), and earn your pro rata share of 50% of profits until you made 120% of your original investment; after which you’ll earn your pro rata share of 25% of profits until 18 months after the worldwide launch of the game, or the earlier termination of our license to market and sell the game!”
For a moment I considered becoming an investor in the gaming industry myself. Having a stake in an Atari product sounds good, right? However, when reading further through the information, I understood that I cannot invest in this project, as it is subject to US investors only, which rules me out. If you’re from the US and consider investing, please make sure to read all the details and check carefully on the risk of such an investment. Many comments on the project page also warn about investing in this.
YouTube: RollerCoaster Tycoon Start Engine Campaign
Photo credit: Atari
Source: Email newsletter