Atari hotel

The first Atari Hotel is planned to break ground this year in downtown Phoenix. 

The new trend of video game-themed hotels has made its way to Arizona with a renowned video game company. 

Atari announced this year that Phoenix would be the first location for its new brand of Atari Hotels. Arizona-based companies are leading the development of the project, which is slated to break ground mid-2020, with an opening date to be determined. 

The hotel concept

Atari – responsible for nostalgic games like Pong and RollerCoaster Tycoon – describes its hotel as a “one-of-a-kind video game-themed destination.” The new hotel will be a fully immersive experience “for every age and gaming ability, including the latest in virtual and augmented reality. Select hotels will also feature state-of-the-art venues and studios to accommodate esports events.” 

Video game-themed hotels could be the next big destination-style development to hit the hospitality industry. While the specific details and amenities are still being kept a secret, the general plan for the hotel is for it to have multigenerational appeal and harmonize modern technology with a retro edge. 

While amenity-rich hotels and experiential retail concepts have been a growing trend in the commercial real estate industry, the hotel’s integration with technology as well as its video game angle will be the first of its kind in America.

The concept is the brainchild of Arizona-based Shelly Murphy’s GSD Group, an innovation and strategy agency, and Napoleon Smith III, the producer of the modernized reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. The duo acquired the rights to build Atari Hotels from Atari.

 “Atari Hotels will be the first of their kind in the U.S., offering gamers of all ages the ultimate in immersive entertainment and in every aspect of gaming. We’re excited to be working on this project with such great partners and to bring a big win to Arizona,” said Murphy.

True North Studio, a real estate development company in Phoenix, will spearhead the construction and design of the hotel.

“We are thrilled to partner with GSD Group and True North Studio to build the first-ever Atari branded hotels across the United States. Together we’ll build a space that will be much more than just a place to stay,” said Fred Chesnais, CEO of Atari.

With the Valley’s tech industry growing exponentially over the years, the video game industry isn’t far behind. The last data pulled about Arizona’s video game industry was in 2015 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). According to their report, Arizona is home to 75 video game companies and 16 college programs. The ESA also reports that in 2015, the video game industry contributed over $261 million to the Arizona economy.

Development companies like Desert Owl Games, Redg Studios, Himalaya Studios, Grumpy Face, Seven Sentinels and dozens more call Arizona home. Organizations like the International Game Developers Association, the Game On Expo and Game CoLab are just a few of the leaders of the Arizona gaming community, who are helping spur the development of more esports events, cyber lounges and more.

While it’s hard to say if Phoenix will become a future destination for the global video game community, hosting the world’s first Atari Hotel is bringing international attention to the Phoenix tech and gaming communities.