Atari celebrates Pong 40th anniversary with remake challenge

For many of us, Pong was the first video game we ever played. The simple game of stopping a ball before it hit that wall was the start of something big. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of thegame classic, Atari is asking indie developers to take a stab at a modern remake for the iPhone and iPad.

The Pong Indie Developer Challenge asks for independent developers that have at least one iPhone app under their belts to submit a design document outlining their idea. Developers can also submit artwork, videos and playable prototypes to get their vision across. The judges, original Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, Pocket God creator Dave Castelnuovo and Mike Schramm from the Unofficial Apple Weblog will be looking for fun, originality, visual appeal and marketability.

Boy, have things changed since those slow-moving, black and whiteearly days!

Three winners will have their games published in the App Store in a "Pong Pak," but there is also a chance at some cash. The number one game will earn its developer $50,000. They'll also get a limited revenue share — 20 percent of sales for a maximum of $50,000 extra if the game sells well.

The competition is underway and submissions need to be received by March 31 so all you developers out there better get busy. If you have questions or want to hook up with other developers there is a forum for all your needs.

Before you all rush headlong into your plans, it is advised that you take a good read of the competition's terms and conditions. The developers essentially agree to give up all rights and royalties past what they receive as the prize, and that's just the winner. All entrants lose the rights to their ideas, and this has the gaming world buzzing.

Brian Robbins, current Chair for the International Game Developers Association's Board of Directors wrote in a blog on Gamasutra: "If this were a typical publishing contract, there's no way I would recommend any developer to sign these terms, no matter how desperate or cash strapped they are."

The move on Atari's part isn't entirely surprising to those in the industry however. Atari has recently aggressively pursued trademark cases against developers who have used architecture or design that even remotely looks like anything in the Atari library. Atari for their part, defend their actions arguing they must protect their trademarked assets and intellectual property in order to preserve their brand.

The restrictions placed on the competition could be a pretty tough road for an indie developer when you consider semi-finalists will have to build out playable prototypes of their games and promotional videos at their own expense.

Still, it could give wannabe superstar developers a quick influx of cash and a moment in the spotlight that would enable them to launch their own careers. It all comes down to a personal judgment call, and whether you view the glass as half empty or half full.

The Pong Indie Developer Challenge is only open to developers in the United States; winners will be announced on August 2.

The Pong Indie Developer Challenge
Via Wired.co.uk, GearDiary

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