Interesting Pricing for Test Drive: Unlimited

AC Cobra

Atari has just announced the pricing for their upcoming racer Test Drive: Unlimited, which is interesting to say the least.

“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.”

The release (below) goes on to talk about monthly car packs featuring 6+ cars and new radio stations for download. These packs will surely come for a price, but it’s great to see someone actually lowering the up-front cost of a game and offsetting that by for-pay downloads, rather than charging full price for the game and asking for more money on the backend. However, is this just a sign of Atari’s desperation to get good sales for what may not wind up being the AAA title it’s tauted to be?

GAMING EXPERIENCE EXTENDS VIA MONTHLY CAR AND MUSIC DOWNLOADS

NEW YORK, NY, JULY 20, 2006 – Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR), one of the world’s most recognized brands and a leading third-party video game publisher, today announced official pricing for its upcoming, highly-anticipated next-generation racing game, Test Drive Unlimited. Atari will offer Test Drive Unlimited for Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system from Microsoft for US$39.95. To further extend consumers’ gaming experiences, Test Drive Unlimited car packs featuring six or more cars, complete with genre-specific radio stations, will be available for download monthly, beginning six weeks after launch on Xbox Live Marketplace.

“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.”

Test Drive Unlimited’s monthly car packs will feature a mixture of manufacturers and models of the world’s finest vehicles. Each downloaded car pack will also include a free radio station. Radio stations will be set according to genres, such as Rock, Blues, Electronic, R&B, Jazz, Latin, etc., and feature between 10-20 songs.

Test Drive Unlimited has been receiving accolades from industry media as one of the top racing games this decade. GameDaily declared “This is the kind of racing game I live for,” while IGN.com stated “there’s no denying Test Drive Unlimited is looking like one of recent memory’s most unique racers.” TeamXbox described Test Drive Unlimited as a “revolutionary online driver.” At this year’s E3, the annual video game trade show, Test Drive Unlimited received a slew of E3 nominations and awards, including both PLAY Magazine and GameTrailers.com “Best Racing Game.”

Packed with 90 vehicles, one thousand plus miles of open roads and a host of online options, Test Drive Unlimited is M.O.O.R.: Massively Open Online Racing – the ultimate online automotive gaming experience for Xbox 360 gamers. Both online and offline gamers will experience the world’s most exotic and fastest vehicles on Test Drive Unlimited’s diverse Hawaiian roads. Gamers win races, challenges, missions and tournaments to earn credits and purchase new cars, bikes, apparel, homes and garages. Boasting huge online content, racers around the world can challenge others to join them in the virtual paradise of the game’s persistent online racing world. Players will engage in online challenges, and build communities by creating or joining exclusive members clubs to talk, trade cars, and race with other like-minded and similarly-skilled drivers in Test Drive Unlimited, one of the most comprehensive online racing experiences to date.

For more information about Test Drive Unlimited, please visit www.testdriveunlimited.com

tim.stevens

Freelance journalist and software architect based in Upstate NY. I write for a variety of different places (as you’ll see) -- maybe even for you if you ask nicely.

7 Comments

  1. Great business strategy. I wonder if they could have already included the extra cars for download in the game or if they will be developing them monthly..

  2. Agreed, good strategy. A lot of people will just get the game, but I have a feeling there will be even more people who end up spending a lot more on these car packs. I also think that part of their decision was based on trying to get as many people online as possible. I personally can’t wait for this, probably get it on launch day.

  3. That’s a good point; a lot of the charm of this game will come in encountering “real” roads filled with “real” people. Anything to get more people online will be good…so long as you can filter out the yahoos crashing into everything they can hit.

  4. Yea, if there’s no way of choosing between crazy-driver servers and non-crazy-driver servers, it’s just going to be annoying.

    “Hey I’m just going to go for a cruise around in my nice new McLaren SLR”
    “Ok, but go round the back roads to avoid those insane n00bs doing top speed tests in their Lambos!”

    😛

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