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RollerCoaster Tycoon fans hit out at Atari over controversial Switch port crowdfunder

"I am absolutely astounded and horrified..."

Atari has launched a crowdfunder for a Nintendo Switch version of RollerCoaster Tycoon - and fans of the much-loved series have not reacted well.

An early look at RollerCoaster Tycoon on Nintendo Switch.

Atari is using a website called Start Engine to call for people to invest in the project in the hope there will be a return on that investment.

The project calls for a minimum of $10,000 - a goal the project has already met - with a $1.07m goal. There are 89 days left.

Atari has enlisted the help of Nvizzio Creations - the developer it turned to to rescue 2016's awful RollerCoaster Tycoon World, which is mysteriously absent from Atari's crowdfunding pitch video.

Cover image for YouTube video

Instead, Atari points to the better-received RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch, which came out in 2017 on mobile devices.

Here's the blurb:

"The unmitigated success of the RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise made the opportunity clear for Atari Game Partners: deliver the first RollerCoaster Tycoon game for the Nintendo Switch. The RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise needs to be put in the hands of even more gamers and developed for the new and innovative Nintendo Switch! RollerCoaster Tycoon on Nintendo Switch will be an all-new game made specifically for Switch with exclusive features.

"It's a perfect match... One of gaming's most beloved brands is bringing one of gaming's best franchises to the most exciting platform in gaming today... And we are offering you the opportunity to invest."

RollerCoaster Tycoon fans have rounded on Atari for a variety of reasons. First up, there's confusion about the need for Atari, a company that claims to be a publishing powerhouse, to crowdfund a Switch version of RollerCoaster Tycoon at all. Atari now is not the Atari of old, but it still owns a raft of classic video game franchises, and inks licensing deals with big media companies for their use. This is no indie developer calling on gamers to make their dreams a reality. In the pitch video, Atari boss Todd Shallbetter proudly proclaims Atari franchises have generated a whopping $2bn - and yet here he is, asking fans to fund the development of a new game.

Atari boss Todd Shallbetter.

Then there's concern about what kind of game RollerCoaster Tycoon will be on the Nintendo Switch. Atari has a bad reputation when it comes to its handling of the beloved franchise, with a number of poorly-received recently-released titles. There's little faith that this Nintendo version will do the series justice. (For its part, Atari has said RollerCoaster Tycoon on Switch will include multiple scenarios, a sandbox mode and a career mode.)

And finally, there's this worrying note in the project smallprint that falls under "Irregular Use of Proceeds".

This note has been rounded on by fans who have expressed astonishment that their investment could potentially be used for such non-development purposes. Here's a snippet of the response on Start Engine:.

The comments on the YouTube pitch video aren't kind, either:

Despite the outcry the project has sparked, Atari is soldiering on with the crowdfunder. It's worth noting that the minimum investment is $250, so this isn't like a Kickstarter. It's more like a Fig pitch, which typically offers a return on investment.

So what do you get for your money? Atari says investors will earn a share of 50 per cent of profits until they make 120 per cent of their original investment, after which they'll earn a share of 25 per cent of profits until 18 months after the launch of the game.

There's a disclaimer here: "The percentages are subject to pro rata decreases in the event we raise less than the $2m we are seeking to raise in this offering and in the offering under Regulation D 506(c) in which we anticipate engaging." That's worth keeping in mind.

With its $10,000 minimum target already reached, it'll be interesting to see whether RollerCoaster Tycoon on Switch will generate significantly more investment - or ever see the light of day.