It seems that Atari has laid a landmine beneath the wireframe tracks of nostalgic blasters Vector Tanks and Vector Tanks Extreme, for the company has had both games pulled from Apple's App Store on the grounds of copyright infringement.
Black Powder Media, the developer responsible for the Vector Tanks series, has used its Kickstarter page to issue a statement regarding the sudden removal of its software.
According to the indie developer, "Atari appears to be paving the way for a reissuing of their classics by putting the squeeze on hundreds of apps."
"Anything that has even a passing resemblance to an Atari classic has been issued a copyright infringement claim," the statement continues.
Legal battle zone
The situation is understandably vexing for Vector Tanks programmer Peter Hirschberg, since he claims to have contacted Atari seeking a licence for its '80s arcade classic Battlezone (in which wireframe tanks do battle across a simple 3D environment).
Hirschberg says Atari's people were unreachable, telling VentureBeat that "they seemed to have fallen off the planet. Now this. It's very depressing".
Atari subsequently issued a statement to Joystiq, saying: "For companies like Atari, our intellectual property portfolio is our most valued asset."
"While we have great respect for the indie developer community and greatly appreciate the enthusiasm that they have for our renowned properties, we need to vigorously protect our intellectual property and ensure that it is represented in highly innovative games."
If Atari is clamping down on IP infringement, there could conceivably be more App Store removals to follow, especially considering the company's claim on frequently aped classics like Asteroids.
Black Powder Media hopes to avoid future issues with its own Battlezone-esque series by renaming the third entry 'The Visceral Adventures of Vic Vector' (code name: VT3) and replacing tanks with alien hovercraft.
The developer hopes this rebranding will ensure VT3 "cannot fall under the Atari claw".