Atari Going After iOS Games Similar to Their Titles

Atari has shown they're ready to aggressively protect their IP, as they've had a game bearing similarity to the classic 1980 arcade title Battlezone pulled from the iOS App Store.

Vector Tanks, an iOS title that draws upon the iconic appearance of Atari's Battlezone, is one of several apps that were pulled from the App Store in December, per copyright claims by Atari. Speaking to VentureBeat, Vector Tanks creator Peter Hirschberg said he wanted to get Atari's attention with this tribute to Battlezone, "I ran up on stage before the big huge popular band starts playing, grabbed the guitar and did a really awesome lick and I was hoping theyd go: Dude, youre totally in the band now. And instead they kicked me out of the show.

While Hirschberg wanted the game to share Battlezone's vector graphics style, he purposefully avoided copying much of what Battlezone was. "That's why I put jeeps in there, helicopters and power-ups - it was not supposed to be Battlezone," he told VentureBeat.

The legal action from Atari only came after the game was acquired by Black Powder Media, who tried to work with Atari on making the game a licensed Battlezone title, per Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell's recommendation, no less, but the talks went nowhere and the app was pulled by Apple.

Atari has become one of the small players in the game development/publishing world, only working with about 50 employees. As such, the company outsources much of their mobile development, teaming up with indie developers for releases like Asteroid: Gunner and Breakout: Boost.

In a statement made to Develop, Atari said, "While we have great respect for the indie developer community and greatly appreciate the enthusiasm that they have for our renowned properties, we need to vigorously protect our intellectual property and ensure that it is represented in highly innovative games."

Meanwhile, in a company blog post, Black Powder Media warned other indie iOS developers that "anything has even a passing resemblance to an Atari classic" is in danger of having legal action brought against it by the developer.