Today, David Crane, Garry Kitchen, and Dan Kitchen announced their new company, Audacity Games, a venture aimed at the niche market of retro gaming. They plan to release new games on physical cartridge for still-popular vintage game systems such as the Atari 2600.
This seems crazy at first blush. The Atari 2600 ceased manufacturing in 1993. Yet millions of working consoles still exist, and there’s a strong community of enthusiastic fans. Every year, homebrew developers continue to release new games for the system, and it seems that if anything this has been growing in recent years rather than tailing off.
While no new hardware has been manufactured in decades, companies like AtGames and Hyperkin have also helped to keep interest in the old consoles alive by manufacturing compatible new hardware. And of course, there’s also emulation software.
Audacity have only a bare stub of a website at the moment, with a press release and no actual game titles announced at this time. Audacity joins other existing companies and communities around the retro gaming community: Atari Age, CollectorVision, RetroUSB, romhacking.net, game-tech.us, Retro Fighters, Retrotainment Games, Champ Games 8bitdo, Good Deal Games, MorphCat Games, and others. Most if not all of these are tiny sole proprietorship small businesses, but together they show that there is still considerable residual interest in classic gaming consoles, enough to sustain development of new games.
Update: Audacity has announced their first two titles, Circus Convoy and Casey’s Gold. What I like about this announcement is that it came out within a day or two of the announcement of the new company. What I also like about this is that these games are coming soon — this isn’t a crowdfunding pitch for a game that might get released in 2-5 years; these are games that are ready to go and will be released in the very near future.
The announced price is on the steep side — at $60, they’re targeting a price point that competes with first party Nintendo releases. I’m skeptical that these games will sell well at that price. The homebrew market tends to price games at $30-40 for physical copies, with ROM downloads often available for use with emulators for free. So it’ll be interesting to see how these titles do on launch. Perhaps the star cachet of the Crane and Kitchen names, the quality of the games, and the novelty of the enterprise will carry the day.