Atari announces finalists in anniversary 'Pong' development challenge

Atari revealed the seven finalists who are in the running to win $50,000 if their Pong-inspired game is voted as a favorite in Atari's iOS Pong Indie Developer Challenge.

UPDATE: We received clarification from Atari today about the prizes for the winners. First place receives $50,000, second place receives $37,500 and third place receives $15,000. The original terms stating that winners receive revenue share for 12 months has also been updated to three years in response to the the public criticism from early this year. The winner will be determined via public voting IN ADDITION to "celebrity" judges like the founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell, Dave Castelnuovo (Pocket God), David Whatley (geoDefense) and Mike Schramm (TUAW).

Atari revealed the seven finalists who are in the running to win $50,000 if their Pong-inspired game is voted as a favorite in Atari's iOS Pong Indie Developer Challenge.

The competition, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of Pong, was opened back in February when Atari invited indie developers to submit games that possessed the key qualities of Pong. The winner of the competition receives a $50,000 prize while the remaining finalists each receive $5000.

Among the finalists are games that take the original concept of Pong and wrap new skins around it, Pong-like games that include up to four-person multiplayer, and Pong in the third dimension. The winner will be determined by a public vote, and voting is now open over at Atari's website.

The competition drew criticism from many game developers and the media when it was first announced due to the Official Contest Rules being heavily skewed in Atari's favor. Criticisms included Atari taking full control and ownership of all submissions into the contest, regardless of whether a submission makes it through to a final round, and a royalty structure that ties up half the prize money in the royalties. The winners would also only receive royalties for the first 12 months the final game is on sale.

At yesterday's Zynga Unleashed press conference, Mark Pincus announced that Zynga and Atari are partnering to release an anniversary game this year. While the name of the game was not revealed, it is likely that the game will be Pong based on it being the game's 40th anniversary this year.

Players can judge their favorites here. The winner will be announced August 2.

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