Oh no, Atari have bought MobyGames

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The creature wearing the skin of Atari mostly makes stupid junk I don’t care about. It can trade on other people’s glories by spaffing off blockchain rubbish and hotels that won’t get built and bad microconsoles and endless re-releases with the logo and rights it bought, and I’ll think it’s stupid but basically not care (aside from that cryptojunk, which is abhorrent). This has now changed with the news that the creature wearing the skin of Atari has bought MobyGames, the extremely good video games database. No, creature, please don’t touch things I use and care about.

MobyGames is fantastic. It’s a vast database filled by volunteers with information on almost 300,000 games from over 300 platforms spanning decades. It has room for screenshots, artwork, credits, box art, marketing materials, editions, international releases, critic reviews, player reviews, trivia, and more. Like IMDB, but video games. It’s hugely impressive and hugely useful.

I turn to MobyGames when a press release claims someone working on a new game was the “creator” of a much-beloved classic, and looking in the credits usually turns up that they were, like, a junior programmer. I turn to MobyGames when I’m trying to figure out if a game I think I remember really was that. I turn to MobyGames when I’m looking to see what else a long-forgotten developer made. It is a website I use personally and professionally, and I worry for its future under the creature wearing the skin of Atari (the French company formerly known as Infogrames).

“The MobyGames community has played a sustained and important role in the documentation, celebration and preservation of video games and supporting MobyGames allows us to give back to the community, and contribute to its growth and success,” said Atari CEO Wade Rosen in Tuesday’s announcement. “It’s important to Atari that MobyGames retains every bit of its integrity, and we’re committed to supporting the site in ways that improve the experience for both contributors and users.”

Yeah, you better. Jeremiah Freyholtz, who has been in charge of MobyGames for years, will remain on and sounds hopeful that Atari’s financial backing will do the site good.

“In Atari, MobyGames has found a partner that will provide the investment and support we need to complete long-planned site improvements,” MobyGames general manager Freyholtz said. “I am confident this transition will allow MobyGames to remain an important community-driven project, and that Atari’s involvement best positions us for long-term stability and success.”

I will be very sorry if the creature wearing the skin of Atari decides that actually, the best thing it could do with MobyGames is store the data on millions of Atari 2600 cartridges, use those as bricks to build a hotel on Mars which takes bookings in cryptocurrency from a DAO, then delete the online database and close the site.

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