Atari pressures Apple to remove copycats from App Store

"Without so much as a rebuttal or independent evaluation."

Atari has reportedly been throwing its legal weight around on the App Store, forcing out games that resemble its old work.

Battlezone-like game Vector Tanks was removed by Apple after Atari complained, GamesIndustry.biz reported. And Vector Tanks Extreme was also elbowed.

"Anything that has even a passing resemblance to an Atari classic has been issued a copyright infringement claim," said Vector Tanks developer Black Powder in a public statement.

"So - thanks to their special relationship with Apple - Atari has successfully scrubbed the app store of their perceived competition.

"It looks as though Apple complied without so much as a rebuttal or independent evaluation."

All of which greatly contradicts with what Atari Go set out to do in 2010.

Atari Go wanted to reinvent hundreds of old Atari games as casual and social experiences. Making these games would be both Atari and unofficial developers. The only stipulation was that any money made by outside parties was shared with Atari.

But Vector Tanks developer Black Powder apparently tried this route.

"The cruel irony here is that I tried for years to get hold of Atari to license their IP but they seemed to have fallen off the planet," Black Powder's Peter Hirschberg told VentureBeat.

"Now this. It's very depressing."

Atari issued a defence to GamesIndustry.biz today.

"For companies like Atari, our intellectual property portfolio is our most valued asset," the company said.

"While we have great respect for the indie developer community and greatly appreciate the enthusiasm that they have for our renowned properties, we need to vigorously protect our intellectual property and ensure that it is represented in highly innovative games.

"We have been actively engaging with numerous established and up and coming developers to help us re-imagine our iconic franchises, and outside app developers have already helped us produce two top 10 mobile game successes in Asteroids: Gunner and Breakout: Boost.

"We look forward to further developing strong relationships with the indie app development community through additional games that we will be releasing in the future."

Atari put Thom Kozik in charge of Atari Go in 2010. But Kozik told GamesIndustry.biz he left Atari Go in April 2011. And, judging by his comments, the Atari Go goal-posts may have moved.

"With regard to your article regarding Atari's current actions around it's IP," he told GamesIndustry.biz, "please be aware that I formally left Atari in April of 2011, and my comments from the 2010 article accurately reflected the company's strategy at that time."

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