Atari has announced plans to create a branded cryptocurrency which will underpin a new digital entertainment platform.

The technology company, famed for its pioneering role in the development of popular 1980s arcade games, including as Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Pong, has revealed plans to create its own digital currency called Atari Token that it hopes will become widely accepted throughout the online gaming industry.

Rather than develop a new decentralised Blockchain platform in-house, Atari has licensed its brand name to Infinity Networks in return for a small equity stake in the Gibraltar-based company. Shares in the Paris-based company soared more than 60% on the news of its foray into cryptocurrency.

Commenting on the deal, Atari Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederic Chesnais said: “Blockchain technology is poised to take a very important place in our environment and to transform, if not revolutionise, the current economic ecosystem, especially in the areas of the video game industry and online transactions.

“Our aim is to take strategic positions with a limited cash risk, in order to best create value with the assets and the Atari brand.”

The French-listed firm also announced plans to integrate cryptocurrencies into the various Atari-branded casinos games available to play online, and hinted about the creation of a second token, the Pong Token, that could be used in conjunction with its games as well as other gaming sites and so-called “crypto-casinos”, with further details to be announced “soon”.

A number of popular gaming sites have announced plans to accept deposits paid in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and a variety of other cryptocurrencies in recent months. NetBet became the first operator licensed by the UK Gambling Commission to accept Bitcoin deposits 18 months ago via a partnership with cryptocurrency payment provider Bitpay, and a number of other operators have since followed suit.

Atari hopes that its brand-name recognition and current trend for 1980s nostalgia will give crypto-platform an edge over the ever-growing number of cryptocurrencies and related platforms on the market today. However, their announcement was light on details about any technical benefits the Atari or Pong tokens would offer over competing cryptocurrencies, and a number of commentators have put the announcement down as further evidence of the current “crypto-bubble”.

The rapid rise in the value of Bitcoin over the last couple of years has brought cryptocurrencies into mainstream public consciousness and caused a goldrush as people try to jump on the bandwagon. And it is not just the public that has jumped into the crypto world, with a variety of listed companies seeing a dramatic rise in their stock prices after attaching themselves to the crypto-hype. Shares in Kodak jumped 245% in 48 hours after it announced plans for its own KODAKCoin cryptocurrency and KODAKOne platform to help photographers protect their works with the help of the blockchain, while Long Island Iced Tea Corp. saw its shares soar 183% in one day after it replaced Iced Tea with Blockchain in its brand name.

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