I can't say I visit the websites of local publishers often, as they do a good job of keeping me informed of release dates, pricing and announcements via email.
It occurred to me, however, that most people don't have this luxury and that, from time to time, they'd have to check out the online abode of a game's publisher for RRP details, screenshots or an incredibly bias review.
So once a week for the next several weeks, I'll be reviewing the design, functionality and availability of information of the local websites of the major publishers. Today we're going to take a look at Atari's online presence in Australia.
Hit the jump for all the pulse-pounding action. It made me want to pound something.
Design: Internet Explorer 7: Pass Opera 9: Pass Firefox 184.108.40.206: Pass
Site design isn't particularly impressive visually. Functional, but heavy usage of grey and red makes it look like a whale eating a giant tomato. A nice benefit of this is that the site loads quickly. The Flash banner at the top of the page that lets you peruse Atari's current major titles is way too big, and pushes the rest of the site off-screen, much like a whale sitting on a giant tomato.
Not too keen on the advertising banner up top, or the skyscraper on the right-hand side. Surely there are better ways advertise your titles on your own site than with, well, advertising.
The centre column, where most text is displayed, looks cramped. My recommendation would be to drop the right column and expand it, or design some kind of futuristic brain laser that burns the information directly into your retinas.
Helpful bits and pieces include the news ticker on the left-hand side, a competitions link and boxes that display the latest additions to the download and cheat sections of the site. Across the top of the site, just below the Atari logo, is a list of platforms and direct links to sections. Can't complain about navigation.
Content: Content is up-to-date. Product pages include pricing, release dates, box art, screenshots, platforms, classifications and number of players. Product descriptions have "read more" jumps, despite the fact you're already on the product page. Often, clicking on this jump only delivers a sentence or two of extra info.
Competitions are a nice touch. Can't argue with the potential to bag free stuff.
Atari gets extra points for providing a link on its site to the Office of Film and Literature Classification. A few local publishers tend to link to the ESRB instead, which is entirely useless for Australians. Shame the link is broken at the moment.
The FAQ has information regarding the links between violence and child obesity and games. While a few of the replies are one or two-line answers ("There is no evidence to show that video gaming is a major specific cause of obesity."), the reply on game violence is meaty.
A detailed "Where to Buy" link is available, in case you have trouble finding your local Harvey Norman or Big W.
The site search is great. It returns results quickly and breaks them down into categories for news, cheats, downloads and products. It could quite easily have just thrown them together or only returned product results.
Atari provides cheat details for a lot of its games, but to access them you'll need to register an account on the site.
Overall: There's a lack of flair, and the site could do with some design tweaks to make it more readable, but the amount of content and accessibility to it is great. The site is also of a different design to its North American sibling, giving it a sense of identity. Of particular note are the FAQ and the OFLC link (once fixed).
Tune in next week when we pick another publisher at random and review its site.