Struggling game publisher Atari announced that its forthcoming next-generation racing title for the Xbox 360, Test Drive Unlimited
, will retail for just $39.95 when it ships in September, a price $20 below the $59.95 price point demanded of most other titles for the next-gen console.
In addition, the company also noted that it will release monthly paid downloads over the Xbox Live Marketplace, including cars and bundled genre-specific radio stations (featuring between 10 and 20 songs each), beginning six weeks after the game hits store shelves. No announcement was made regarding the expected price of other versions of the game, which are slated to ship for the PlayStation 2, PSP, and PC.
There is little question that the game's success at retail is important for Atari, which recently sold
franchise and most of the assets of the Newcastle, UK-based Reflections development studio to Ubisoft, noting that Test Drive
was its foremost racing franchise. The sale was just the latest in a string of IP and studio sales for the company, which has major long-term debt issues, but also claims an intentional 'refocusing' of goals.
The company has also emphasized in June
while reporting its financial results for the fiscal 2006 fourth quarter the importance of its previously announced pricing program called GamersFirst. The program began on June 1 and effectively lowered the price point of all existing Atari console titles for the PS2, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance to $19.99.
Additionally, all existing Windows titles (excluding the Turbine-developed MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons Online
) were recently lowered to the $19.99 level as well. Titles offered in the on-going GamersFirst program include Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi, Driver: Parallel Lines, Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
, and Indigo Prophecy
“Innovation should be available to everyone, not a privilege for those who can afford high price tags,” said Bruno Bonnell, Chairman, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Atari. “Our GamersFirst program demonstrated the positive impact of flexibility in pricing. We believe it is our mission to deliver triple-A games that are accessible to the masses. As such, we are offering Test Drive Unlimited
– a game that is being positively touted and recognized by the media – for $39.95, and furthermore, will continue users’ experiences past launch by featuring new cars and free music for download.”