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Mockduck

Suggestion: Get the AtariAge games on the new VCS

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I'm sure this isn't a controversial suggestion at all... :) I would love to see the AtariAge games get digital releases on the new VCS. Heck, besides getting some money in creators' pockets it'd raise some funds for AtariAge in general. Some of the remakes of older IPs are prob best left where they are but I'm sure Albert and crew could make a killer "AtariAge Vault" for the VCS and sell it for $20-30. 

 

https://atariage.com/store/

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I was thinking about this too, IDK if Songbird Productions is still in business, but it'd be cool if they could port their games on the VCS as well. It would open up the audience to the homebrew games, but I think there is too much animosity toward the system for that to happen.

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7 hours ago, Nall3k said:

I was thinking about this too, IDK if Songbird Productions is still in business, but it'd be cool if they could port their games on the VCS as well. It would open up the audience to the homebrew games, but I think there is too much animosity toward the system for that to happen.

I would love to see this too. I am getting more active into gaming again after a spell away and there are several I'd love to play. There are some stellar ones out there. What is that Indie Game streaming service on the VCS? Maybe make it a channel there?

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I like this idea,  or even just digital sales in general for emulator users.   I would like to play some of these homebrews and support the developers, but I've sold most of my original Atari hardware.

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Neat idea! I do see a problem, though: a lot of AA's best sellers are unauthorized ports or remakes. We might need to get selective!

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On 1/12/2021 at 12:17 AM, Nall3k said:

I was thinking about this too, IDK if Songbird Productions is still in business, but it'd be cool if they could port their games on the VCS as well. It would open up the audience to the homebrew games, but I think there is too much animosity toward the system for that to happen.

As I recall, most of Songbird's titles were actually unreleased games that they secured rights for. Don't know if they'd have the resources for full blown ports - or the rights.

But as long as we're dreaming... why isn't there a Tempest 2000 port??? IIRC, there was a PC version - and even an indie PC remake. Seems either of those could be ported to Atari OS without too much expense. (Of course, I'm not a developer, so I really hjave no idea what it takes, I may be way off here.)

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On 1/16/2021 at 12:07 AM, Battlefish said:

Neat idea! I do see a problem, though: a lot of AA's best sellers are unauthorized ports or remakes. We might need to get selective!

Yeah, the homebrew use of larger IP would mean AA would have to pick and choose the titles, but that's all right. 

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On 1/11/2021 at 2:54 PM, Mockduck said:

I'm sure this isn't a controversial suggestion at all... :) I would love to see the AtariAge games get digital releases on the new VCS. Heck, besides getting some money in creators' pockets it'd raise some funds for AtariAge in general. Some of the remakes of older IPs are prob best left where they are but I'm sure Albert and crew could make a killer "AtariAge Vault" for the VCS and sell it for $20-30. 

 

https://atariage.com/store/

 

What sort of terms would Atari SA want to carry it in their store, or are you proposing sideloading it or similar?

 

Additionally, who would be performing the conversion, what would that cost, and what would it offer that the Vault collections already in the VCS store don't?

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I would need to look up Atari's cut, they stated it at some point during the pre-launch, but IIRC it is less than the industry standard 30%. 

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6 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

 

What sort of terms would Atari SA want to carry it in their store, or are you proposing sideloading it or similar?

 

Additionally, who would be performing the conversion, what would that cost, and what would it offer that the Vault collections already in the VCS store don't?

I am thinking an official release on the VCS Store. As for who would perform the conversion, well, I guess that's a call for Al and crew or whoever. I'd see it as, let's say, a $20-30 game, with the funds supporting AtariAge. Actually, it'd be even cooler if a % could go to some charity that helps with game accessibility, but whatev. The main development work would be UI work I'd think. 

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Wouldn't it make most sense to distribute the homebrew game with the emulator needed to run it?

 

Otherwise, if you are porting the game to PC/Linux, you are defeating the purpose of retro-console homebrews

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4 hours ago, zzip said:

Wouldn't it make most sense to distribute the homebrew game with the emulator needed to run it?

 

Not allowed, although I know of one person who violated Stella's license already, he baked his 2600 ROM into it and sold it for profit.

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19 minutes ago, CPUWIZ said:

 

Not allowed, although I know of one person who violated Stella's license already, he baked his 2600 ROM into it and sold it for profit.

 

He "got away with it" too didn't he?  :X

 

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10 hours ago, CPUWIZ said:

 

Not allowed, although I know of one person who violated Stella's license already, he baked his 2600 ROM into it and sold it for profit.

There's other emulators with possibly less restrictive licensing.

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11 hours ago, CPUWIZ said:

Not allowed, although I know of one person who violated Stella's license already, he baked his 2600 ROM into it and sold it for profit.

Huh? Stella's licence doesn't forbid selling for profit. E.g. GOG.com are selling many games bundled with DOSBox without violating its licence.

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1 hour ago, Kr0tki said:

Huh? Stella's licence doesn't forbid selling for profit. E.g. GOG.com are selling many games bundled with DOSBox without violating its licence.

 

True, but DOSBox isn't Stella.  It's also possible that GOG has negotiated licensing terms with the necessary parties to make that kind of distribution legally-permissible.

 

My guess is that the issue is with including ROMs with Stella; this is usually prohibited by most emulators' licences.  Ditto not crediting the original author(s) in forked releases.

 

I'm not using Stella so someone who is would need to verify against its licence, but those seem like the most likely possibilities if selling for profit is permitted.

Edited by x=usr(1536)

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4 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

My guess is that the issue is with including ROMs with Stella; this is usually prohibited by most emulators' licences.  Ditto not crediting the original author(s) in forked releases.

I would think that most emulators don't want to be distributed with illegal roms.   That would be the reason for the prohibition.  Remember emulators struggled for legitimacy, and not just a tool of piracy.

 

For a legitimate rom release, you might be able to strike a deal with the author or team behind them, and get a specially licensed version for this type of release.  Maybe they get a cut of the sale too.

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This is all back-of-the-napkin maths, but I'm going to go with @Mockduck and @Chris Brockman's numbers above for my reckonings.  Obviously, these are all speculative numbers, but given the figures we have to work with they're as good as any:

 

On 1/19/2021 at 10:13 AM, Mockduck said:

I'd see it as, let's say, a $20-30 game, with the funds supporting AtariAge.

 

4 hours ago, Chris Brockman said:

The cut is 20 percent for non exclusive titles and 10 for exclusive - I think.

 

Assuming that an existing AtariAge Store title is on the VCS Store at $30:

  • Take 20% ($6) off the top immediately as it's a non-exclusive; this would apply to all titles already in the AtariAge Store being sold in the VCS Store.
    • Value: $24 (gross)
  • Take 33% ($8) from the gross value for author royalties (N.B.: I have no clue what this percentage actually is, so adjust as necessary)
    • Value: $16 (gross)
  • Take another notional $8 from the gross value to cover development and maintenance
    • Development: negotiation of terms with emulator authors to package software with their emulator, adaptation of emulator to software and OS environment, testing of final product prior to shipping
    • Maintenance: having to repackage the software periodically when emulators and/or the VCS' OS updates; must be covered in emulator terms to avoid relicensing costs with each release, which can / will become a significant cost
    • Value: $8 (gross)
  • Taxes, incidentals, etc. - deduct 10% of original sale price ($3) from current value
    • Value: $5 (net)

Netting $5 on a $30 sale represents a margin of 16.667%.  Someone closer to the actual workings of the AtariAge Store would have to comment as to the accuracy of my numbers and / or how this compares to the AA Store's workings (and, quite honestly that's none of my business), but if I were undertaking this particular venture I'd want to see closer to a 30% net per copy.

 

There's one other thing that hasn't been factored in here, and that's how this may cannibalise sales from the AA Store.  Unless there's an absolutely stellar return from selling through the VCS Store, it's not worth risking splitting the audience - just because someone buys a digital copy of <insert game here> wrappered in an emulator does not mean that they're likely to buy a physical copy.  If anything, my past experience in that regard tells me that people tend to go for one or the other, not both, because nobody wants to buy the same thing twice.

 

Can't see how this would work well, unless there's something in all of this that I've missed.

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Stella is licensed by the gnu general public license and specifically says "you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish)".  Also "In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of this License."  There are laws prohibiting the distribution of rom files without permission otherwise people are free to bundle with stella as long as they comply with its gnu public license.

Edited by mr_me
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As long as the ROM isn't required to re-compile Stella, then it isn't a derivative work, and you're free to include it together with a ROM.  If, however, you're compiling the ROM code into the emulator itself, then it forces the ROM to take on the same license as Stella (GPLv2).  So don't do that, and you are fine.  You are free to put Stella and a ROM into a ZIP file and distribute that.  But the end user must be able to replace the version of Stella included in the ZIP file with another of their choosing, and have it all still work.  Otherwise it is indeed a license violation.

 

Mentioning Stella, its authors and its website would be nice, and giving a donation to Stella would be even nicer, but those aren't technically required by the GPLv2 either.  Attempting to strip the license and say it's your own code, however, is a license violation.

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37 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:
  • Take 20% ($6) off the top immediately as it's a non-exclusive; this would apply to all titles already in the AtariAge Store being sold in the VCS Store.
    • Value: $24 (gross)
  • Take 33% ($8) from the gross value for author royalties (N.B.: I have no clue what this percentage actually is, so adjust as necessary)
    • Value: $16 (gross)
  • Take another notional $8 from the gross value to cover development and maintenance
    • Development: negotiation of terms with emulator authors to package software with their emulator, adaptation of emulator to software and OS environment, testing of final product prior to shipping
    • Maintenance: having to repackage the software periodically when emulators and/or the VCS' OS updates; must be covered in emulator terms to avoid relicensing costs with each release, which can / will become a significant cost
    • Value: $8 (gross)
  • Taxes, incidentals, etc. - deduct 10% of original sale price ($3) from current value
    • Value: $5 (net)

Many of those costs would happen even if sold through AA. yes you pay 20% to Atari, but on the other hand, you don't have the costs involved with a physical package.

 

As for maintenance,  you don't need to update the package just because the emulator updated if the game is already running fine.   It's not that common that OS updates break emulators,  I still have emulators from years ago running on a linux system I've upgraded many times.    The biggest reason they break is the shared libraries they depend on are not installed on the new OS.   The solution there is to package all the library dependencies with the package itself to prevent that.

 

Also this effort could be reused to take the games to other digital platforms.

 

47 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

There's one other thing that hasn't been factored in here, and that's how this may cannibalise sales from the AA Store.  Unless there's an absolutely stellar return from selling through the VCS Store, it's not worth risking splitting the audience - just because someone buys a digital copy of <insert game here> wrappered in an emulator does not mean that they're likely to buy a physical copy.  If anything, my past experience in that regard tells me that people tend to go for one or the other, not both, because nobody wants to buy the same thing twice.

I don't think so.   There's plenty of people who don't buy the physical packages simply because they don't have the hardware to run it on.   I've never bought one, but I would buy digital copies of some of the games if available.

 

There's people who want to run the game on the actual hardware, and they will want the cartridge,  there's others that don't want to mess with real hardware anymore and prefer emulation.   I don't think there's a huge overlap.

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1 hour ago, x=usr(1536) said:

This is all back-of-the-napkin maths, but I'm going to go with @Mockduck and @Chris Brockman's numbers above for my reckonings.  Obviously, these are all speculative numbers, but given the figures we have to work with they're as good as any:

 

 

 

Assuming that an existing AtariAge Store title is on the VCS Store at $30:

  • Take 20% ($6) off the top immediately as it's a non-exclusive; this would apply to all titles already in the AtariAge Store being sold in the VCS Store.
    • Value: $24 (gross)
  • Take 33% ($8) from the gross value for author royalties (N.B.: I have no clue what this percentage actually is, so adjust as necessary)
    • Value: $16 (gross)
  • Take another notional $8 from the gross value to cover development and maintenance
    • Development: negotiation of terms with emulator authors to package software with their emulator, adaptation of emulator to software and OS environment, testing of final product prior to shipping
    • Maintenance: having to repackage the software periodically when emulators and/or the VCS' OS updates; must be covered in emulator terms to avoid relicensing costs with each release, which can / will become a significant cost
    • Value: $8 (gross)
  • Taxes, incidentals, etc. - deduct 10% of original sale price ($3) from current value
    • Value: $5 (net)

Netting $5 on a $30 sale represents a margin of 16.667%.  Someone closer to the actual workings of the AtariAge Store would have to comment as to the accuracy of my numbers and / or how this compares to the AA Store's workings (and, quite honestly that's none of my business), but if I were undertaking this particular venture I'd want to see closer to a 30% net per copy.

 

There's one other thing that hasn't been factored in here, and that's how this may cannibalise sales from the AA Store.  Unless there's an absolutely stellar return from selling through the VCS Store, it's not worth risking splitting the audience - just because someone buys a digital copy of <insert game here> wrappered in an emulator does not mean that they're likely to buy a physical copy.  If anything, my past experience in that regard tells me that people tend to go for one or the other, not both, because nobody wants to buy the same thing twice.

 

Can't see how this would work well, unless there's something in all of this that I've missed.

This is all very relevant, and thanks for doing the work. Welcome to actual game dev life (not that you don't already know this)! :) Makes you realize that buying all those cheap sales games off steam maybe aren't doing much to support the devs, ya know? At $30 it'd be the most expensive game in the VCS Store, so was using that as a ceiling. 

 

As someone who deals with the cannibalization issue frequently in my work life, I can say it works both ways: yes, it cannibalizes a few sales, but my - guess - would be that the number of people willing to pay the relatively high price for a physical AA homebrew cart is not likely to grow dramatically in the coming years, but the number of people willing to pay some money for AA homebrews on the VCS (and hell PC or whatever) is there, and a currently untapped market. It comes down to $5 profit on 1000 units vs. $25 or whatever profit on the physical cart that you sell however many are sold. 

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On the Stella licensing issue, sure that's a thing. I'll leave it up to people far more knowledgeable than myself to figure out. 

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