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Atari's Phil Harrison

On Alone in the Dark and switching roles.

EurogamerYou've recently been quoted as suggesting this could be one of Atari's last big budget, single-player games for hardcore gamers - the implication being you're moving towards titles on the more casual side...
Phil Harrison

I haven't read the quote, but I can tell you the context in which I gave that quote. It was not uniquely about Atari; it was more about the industry as a whole.

Alone in the Dark is a beautifully crafted single-player adventure game. I don't think the industry is going to make many more of those. I just don't think consumers want to be playing games that don't have some kind of network connectivity to them, or some kind of community embedded in them, or some kind of extension available through downloadable content.

Now, that's not to criticise Alone in the Dark - it's just to recognise the industry is changing, and the role we play as creators and publishers has to reflect those changes. I don't think I'm alone in having those views, either.

EurogamerSo how do you see Atari's portfolio in the future? What will the balance between hardcore and more casual titles be?
The game's Central Park setting gives AITD mass market appeal, Harrison says.
Phil Harrison

Today, Atari's portfolio of products comes from a wide variety of sources. Some are internally developed like Alone in the Dark and Test Drive Unlimited. Others are published by us but developed externally, and some are purely distributed by us and created and marketed by other companies. We want to redress the balance to be more games that we create and publish ourselves - either with our own developers or with external developers.

Those games are the ones I'm going to be driving the agenda on. I want to make a more strongly connected portfolio of games, meaning connected to the consumer directly - not necessarily bypassing retail, because I think retail is still an important part of it, but having additional downloadable content, having communities built into the game... All the fun stuff I was doing in my previous life, I want to continue to explore here. It's not a particularly pioneering thought, it's just that's the way the world is moving.

EurogamerIn your previous life, as you put it, you were head of Sony Worldwide Studios. Now you're promoting a game that'll be released on a rival console before it's released on PS3. Have you had to rethink your attitude to the Xbox 360?
Phil Harrison

I've always recognised its capabilities, so it's not like I've woken up and gone, 'Ooh, I'm a real 360 fan now.' I'm in a different part of the industry so I have a different role to play. It's been a good experience learning about other formats, not just 360 but Wii and DS, and understanding what it's like to publish games on those platforms and create for those audiences. I'm finding it very intellectually and creatively challenging.

EurogamerIs Atari committed to all three platforms equally? As a third-party publisher, don't you have to look at the sheer number of Wii consoles that have been sold compared to PS3 and Xbox 360 and take that into consideration?
Balancing the Wii's success against the relative achievements of PS3 and 360 has been an invogating challenge for Big Phil. (Wii version pictured.)
Phil Harrison

There's a really interesting challenge right now. On a macro basis you've got more consoles being sold all around the world than ever in the history of the industry. You've more software being bought than ever. You've got a more diverse range of consumers playing games than ever before, the demographic's gotten wider.

So on the face of it that produces lots of opportunity for everybody - but you've got to avoid being like kids in the playground, everyone chasing the same ball. We want to see if we can create a strategic opportunity for our company that differentiates us from everybody else.

EurogamerWhere does Alone in the Dark fit into that strategy?
Phil Harrison

Alone in the Dark is a triple-A, brilliantly executed game that is going to be extremely appealing to audiences of today's videogame systems. And that's great. It's going to sell well, and it gives us a platform to build our year on.

Alone in the Dark will be released on PC, PS2, Xbox 360 and Wii on June 20th, with a PS3 version to follow in the autumn.

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