Atari Announces Plans for Austin Hotel
Yeah, like the games – but don't get too excited
By Richard Whittaker,
4:30PM, Tue. Jan. 28, 2020
Ready to book into the Super Pong Doubles Suite, or grab a drink in the Centipede Lounge? Atari, the one-time giant of the video game industry, has announced plans to open a themed hotel in Austin. Don't mash that start button and try to book a room quite yet.
This week, the company announced it will be breaking ground this spring on the first Atari Hotel in Phoenix, Ariz., with plans (let's stress "plans") to expand to Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle – and Austin. The project is being overseen by Atari, GSD Group, and IP expert Napoleon Smith III (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain Kangaroo), while Phoenix-based real estate developer True North Studio will be developing the first location.
The initial announcement promises a "one-of-a-kind video game-themed destination," including VR and AR facilities – plus, in what could be most interesting for Austin, some hotels (sites TBA) will have dedicated esports venues and studios. Considering the rapid expansion of professional and competitive gaming, this could potentially make an Austin location a destination hotel.
A pioneering force in the world of home video games, Atari has seemingly had more downs than up for most of its 48-year history. Pong was arguably the first important cabinet video game, while the Atari 2600 was the original gaming console for much of the early 1980s and still holds a powerful place in the memories of veteran gamers. It's retained somewhat of a foothold in the game space with new games, plus updates and ports of some classic IPs like Railroad Tycoon. However, the company seems to be back on the upswing, having announced the Atari VCS, its first new console since the Jaguar CD in 1995.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Atari and its partners have not yet even broken ground on the Phoenix site, so there's a lot of things that could go awry with their plan before an Austin location opens its doors. Themed chains have a spotty history (there are far more failed ventures like the Nickelodeon Family Suites than Hard Rock Cafes), Atari does not have the name recognition of Nintendo or Sony, and getting it built will mean, of course, defeating the ultimate big boss: Austin planning and permitting.