The Truth About Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 For PC
You may have heard, Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 is happening. You may also have heard that not everyone is happy – there’s a mobile version too!
In an era where free-to-play mobile games – especially surrounding notable gaming franchises – get almost instant (and often irreversible) hate, Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile has a tough job on its hand.
But it’s not all bad; a PC version is in the works, according to Atari, and it could be everything the diehard community is asking for.
Determined to get to the bottom of exactly what we can expect from Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 – hey, we’re fans too! – we spoke with Atari CEO Frederic Chesnais.
From Mobile To PC
“I’ve been working on it for more than a year,” said Chesnais, “because I bought the company back officially in January 2013 and Rollercoaster Tycoon was clearly something that was part of my plan.”
“When I arrived it was a mobile game,” admitted Chesnais, “so we kept working on the mobile game – but the point is not the mobile game, the point is that we have a PC game in production.
“Let me try to put it as clearly as possible, and this is something that we’re going to post at some point on the Facebook page, what we are seeing with the PC game is that players are passionate about it.
“We’re going to start engaging with the community really quickly, right now.”
Chesnais first worked at Atari in 2000, and was there when Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 was released. He knows the importance of the series, not only for Atari but also for the dedicated gamers that still play it to this day.
The decision to make a PC version was easy for Atari, in Chesnais’ words “it was very important to have a PC game”, but the process will be different than with the mobile.
“At the end of the day it’s a much, much, much bigger project for the PC game, right?
“So we also want to start, not low-profile but something that it is easier to manage, learn from that and – at the end of the day – deliver a bigger experience with the PC online game.”
Rollercoaster Tycoon Fans Unite
Getting the input from the devoted Rollercoaster Tycoon fans – the ones who were not impressed by the announcement of a mobile game – is key to the PC game’s development for Atari.
“This is the most important thing for us,” said Chesnais, “knowing in advance what they like.
“It’s going to be very difficult because as you know – and I know maybe more than you do – when you tell people ‘hey what would you like?’ and you have thousands of answers and they are never compatible.
“But the point is we have the PC game in development and we’re going to reengage with the community in the next few months.”
But that doesn’t mean the mobile game should be a write-off. “In the meantime we have a mobile game – which is also a nice way for us to be back, with some social and mobile features like visiting your friend’s parks, inviting friends and, you know, we’re going to learn as well.”
Chesnais even claims “I’m not saying I know everything”, adding that Rollercoaster Tycoon “is a very important franchise for Atari” and that “we’re not going to stop working with the community on this”.
The mobile game – although important for Atari – is more of a stopgap, a beginning of the rebirth of the franchise. The series deserves a PC game, as Chesnais is well aware, but that will be a much slower progress.
“It takes time, to make a good, good PC game and we wanted to engage the community; we know we’re working on that PC game, and what people are saying I feel is more ‘why aren’t you engaging right now on the PC side?”
Developing For The Crowd
As is popular with games these days, Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 on PC will be available on Steam Early Access. No details were given on when, though Chesnais suggested news wouldn’t be too far away.
Atari will be using the Early Access process to learn, to gauge interest and – hopefully – make the game that RCT fans are crying out for. Chesnais is nothing if not belligerent about this devotion to taking feedback from the community.
The mobile version will also act as a test bed for potential ideas, with one such – perhaps controversial – addition being the inclusion of vanity items that can be redeemed.
Chesnais explains that by inviting friends or pre-registering on the Rollercoaster Tycoon website you’ll gain access to unique items that you’ll be able to show your friends.
“It will be very important for us to see if this is of interest to the community – yay or nay? – if it is we’ll just improve that in the PC version.”
But if that sounds too much like a microtransaction that you’re not into, then it might not happen.
“If people say ‘you know what, we want something else’, okay, we’ll do something else,” adds Chesnais. “We’re flexible.”
The Details Of Rollercoaster Tycoon 4
But what will it be like? That’s the important thing, surely.
While On5 is the developer of the mobile version, however, a different developer is working on the PC version – though Chesnais would not say who “because we’re working on a bigger announcement.”
Chris Sawyer is involved with the PC project, though, which should give fans hope to hold on to. Sawyer was also involved with the recent Transport Tycoon mobile version, and we can’t give that enough praise. Seriously, you should buy it.
Elsewhere Chesnais had described Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 on PC as an online game, adding that social features will be key to the experience.
“You will be able to gift things to friends, you will be able to give a code to give something to your friend.
“We’ll be adding other things but the first things you’ll be able to do is you’ll be able to add friends to the game, be able to visit their park and you’ll be able to have access to the leaderboard and you’ll be able to see where you rank on the global level.”
It’s a feature that would actually fit quite well into Rollercoaster Tycoon 4, but will the PC game be more like the isometric original two, or the 3D third one? Sadly, all we got was “more about that in a few weeks”.
Mercifully there won’t be too long a wait for gamers to find out just how the PC equivalent of Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 will turn out, but the truth is that it’s clear Atari is determined to ensure series’ fans will want to be involved.
In the meantime, Chesnais says Atari is taking feedback from the Rollercoaster Tycoon Facebook page where Atari is “getting a lot, a lot of feedback”.
“And after that we have a splash page on PC on the website, and we’re going to expand the website to engage more efficiently with the community for the PC game.”