Atari is betting that an acquisition will bolster its classic game library. The company is buying Nightdive Studios, best known for its upcoming System Shock remake, for $10 million in cash and stock. The move will help Atari both expand its catalog and use Nightdive’s combination of technology and publishing to boost a “retro-focused” strategy. The deal is expected to close in April.
Apart from the System Shock re-do, Nightdive mainly thrives on the KEX engine it uses to make vintage games run on today’s PCs, in some cases with technical improvements. Its modernizations range from well-known hits like Quake and Blade Runner through to cult favorites like Darklands and Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri. Nightdive isn’t a large company, having racked up $3 million in revenue last year.
For Atari, this is part of a broader bid to refocus on gaming. The company has tried (and struggled with) multiple unusual ventures in recent years, including crypto, online casinos and even themed hotels. Nightdive lets Atari concentrate on making “premium” PC and console titles without relying solely on retreads of first-party games, and without spending as much time developing technology to port old software. Atari is nowhere near returning to its heyday, but it may become more relevant to gamers than it has been in a while.