By December, Atari will release Pridefest, a mobile city-building game focused on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It’s also launching an online casino service. Yes, both of these initiatives are coming from the same company responsible for Pong. But when you look at the amount of money those two seemingly disparate sectors represent, it’s clear why Atari is making such a huge push in those directions. Online gambling may be having trouble gaining a foothold in the US due to regulatory laws, but it’s booming in Europe. By 2015, the European Union predicts the industry will pull in some €13 billion (over $17 billion). Witeck Communications, which specializes in the LGBT consumer market, forecasted that 2013 would see the LGBT community’s total buying power reach $830 billion in the United States alone. For a company that’s been struggling for the better part of the last four decades, all of that money must look incredibly attractive — regardless of where it comes from.
Engadget reports than an Atari official is “adamant” that the game isn’t an attempt to pander to LGBT community. But they also quote an unnamed gay executive in the video game industry, who observes that Pridefest feels like a merely “reskinned” version of earlier similar games. (Tipped by JMG reader Derek)