Atari, or at least the company currently holding the rights to use that name, announced earlier this week that it had spent $1.5 million buying MobyGames, a website most of you have probably used at one point or another in your lives, without ever thinking about its monetary worth.
The site, founded in 1999, is basically a huge database for video game credits, screenshots, and platform information. It’s the closest thing the industry has to a central credits register, since publishers themselves are so notoriously terrible at keeping track of such things. It’s also, very quietly, a great repository of quality screenshots for retro/pixel art video games.
Originally created by three high school friends (Jim Leonard, Brian Hirt and David Berk), this isn’t the first time the site has been sold; it controversially changed hands in 2010 when GameFly bought it and redesigned the whole site, before it was purchased again in 2013 by Jeremiah Freyholtz, who quickly reverted most of those unpopular changes. Freyholtz, along with IGF’s Simon Carless, has been running the site ever since.
While people are understandably sceptical about the sale, so far both Atari and Freyholtz have been saying all the right things:
“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. “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.”
“In Atari, MobyGames has found a partner that will provide the investment and support we need to complete long-planned site improvements,” said Jeremiah Freyholtz, General Manager MobyGames. “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.”
Atari’s purchase release says that Freyholtz “will remain in his role as General Manager.”