|IGN.PC has posted an article on the publishing deal between Artifact Entertainment and Atari for Horizons. Nice stuff:
This will be the first foray Infogrames has made in to the burgeoning massively-multiplayer market and they've chosen Horizons as an important first step in this new direction. Despite not having had prior experience in bringing this type of title to market before, the monolithic publisher has been very receptive to Artifact's rather nontraditional method of development.
They also talk about dragons in the game, and there is a screenshots of such a creature as well...
Artifact's model differs from that of most MMO game developers in that they want to retain full control over all aspects of the game itself. Where some publishers take control of customer service and server technology once the game launches, all server issues and software-related customer support will be handled exclusively by Artifact. Atari will be responsible merely for marketing the product through the launch as well as packaging the title and distributing it to retail stores. After that, all players will deal solely with Artifact.
This makes sense, according to Artifact's marketing director Steve Escalante. "Artifact is good at doing the in-game stuff. Atari is good at marketing and publishing." Still, the lines of communication are open and it's not completely out of the question for Artifact to influence the publishing end of the process, Likewise, Atari will be able to offer their own thoughts on the state of the game itself. This interplay occurs more on the consulting level however, so each company will be able to maintain control over their respective spheres.