Atari is bringing back the pong screenshot

Pong is almost 40 years old, which means it’s probably going to get a sporty wee convertible and start hooking up with people half its age. To celebrate Pong‘s impending anniversary, Atari has challenged indie developers to do the impossible. They will have two days to circumnavigate the globe in a Pong themed hot air balloon. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. The reality is infinitely less cool, Atari actually want indie devs to make Pong for iOS. The winning version will be published on the App Store by Atari and the victorious developers will receive a $100,000 prize. A panel of industry folks, including Nolan Bushnell, will be judging the games and picking three winners.

While remaking an archaic tennis game for an increasingly irrelevant publisher might sound like a dream come true, the devil is in the details. The fine print reveals that this deal is slightly sour. Developers will lose any rights to their games, so there’s nothing stopping Atari from stealing the ideas from various applicants and just making their own Frankenstein Pong. The not insignificant $100,000 prize is also not all that it appears to be. Half of that sum is dependent on the game actually being a success.

While it sounds like a good opportunity for indie developers to get some more exposure I can’t imagine that remaking Pong is going to be the most fulfilling experience. I’m certainly not jealous of the poor bastards who are going to have to go through all these potential Pong remakes to make a short list. Atari’s unsurprising caveats in the fine print might put a few developers off, as well. There’s probably more than a few indie devs who are independent so they can avoid this sort of shifty bullshit.