Alone in the Dark delayed as Atari lessens losses

Troubled publisher's red ink lessens on lower income from property sell-off; horror series expanding onto new platforms in 2007.

In June, Atari reported its earnings for its 2006 fiscal year, which turned out to be one of its worst on record. For the 12 months ending March 31, it lost $67.1 million on total revenues of $218.7 million. Both figures are dramatically worse than what Atari reported the previous year, when it posted $407.8 in revenues and an annual profit of $5.7 million.

While some of its developers spoke to game journalists in Las Vegas, the company's New York office reported results for the first quarter of its 2007 fiscal year, which ended on June 30. On the bright side, the France-based publisher's losses were $7.1 million, $25.7 million less than the $32.8 million shortfall it reported for the April-June quarter the prior year.

However, net revenue for the quarter was also down, dropping $4.4 million from $19.5 million to $23.9 million year-on-year. Of that figure, $9 million was from "the purchase and sale agreement with a third party to sell and assign all rights, title, and interest in the Stuntman franchise."

The "third" party in question was THQ, which picked up both the Stuntman license and its developer, Paradigm, in May. Two months later, Atari sold off an even bigger car-centric franchise, its troubled Driver series, to Ubisoft for $24 million. That income will be counted as part of the company's earnings for its next fiscal quarter, which ends on September 30.

September will also see the release of Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360; the game will arrive on the PC and PlayStation 2 the following month and on the PlayStation Portable in November. In Atari's initial earnings statement, its chairman, CEO, and chief creative officer, Bruno Bonnell, touted the heavily hyped title as being key to "improving profitability" at the publisher.

Later, though, Bonnell told analysts in a conference call that another of Atari's top games won't be out until its 2008 fiscal year, which runs from April 2007 to March 2008. "We are announcing effectively Alone in the Dark as one of our franchisees for the future," he said during a post-earnings report conference call. "It will be probably the hit of our next year."

After confirming that the game was coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Bonnell talked about the future of the brand. "We actually are extending Alone in the Dark to some other formats right now we have not even announced yet," he said. "I don't want to be forward, but it will be announced shortly." Bonnell did not mention the PC version of the game.

Bonnell also mentioned the Driver/Reflections and Stuntman/Paradigm deals as being part of the latest chapters in Atari's ongoing property sell-off saga, which also included the April sale of TimeShift to Vivendi Games. Bonnell said all three deals raised a combined $37 million--putting TimeShift's price tag at around $4 million.

Bonnell also offered some upbeat assessments about making games for the next generation of consoles. "The Xbox 360 or the PS3 or the Wii are so powerful that, surprisingly, it will be easier to use...[game-development] middleware," he told analysts. "I would not be surprised to see actually a price that is fairly consistent with a prior generation on an average basis. Of course, there will be some massive title with crazy costs. But, on an average basis, I would say that using in a smart way the power of this machine is probably going to help us on the cost side."

That said, the executive also warned that, due to the complexity of next-gen machines, porting between consoles will become increasingly difficult, meaning more exclusives could be likely. "The sad part is ports are going to be a little more difficult because the machines are becoming more and more specific," he said. "So probably we have to anticipate that the cost of porting a product from one platform to the other is actually going to go higher than in the prior generation of machines."

Atari released its report after the markets closed on Wall Street. Its share price ended the day at $0.66, less than a quarter above its 52-week low of $0.47. In after-hours trading, it had risen $0.005 as of press time.

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34 comments
ElJefeDeMedios
ElJefeDeMedios

I hope they do well - they have survived where most have folded. Good luck (oh and I hope Alone lives up to the epectations).

bigelf72
bigelf72

i remember the days when the atari office was loaded with hot tubs, pool tables...and arcade machines.

LuminosityBlaze
LuminosityBlaze

Atari is a pretty Die hard company, lets hope they can again survive this rift in the company... Its never good when you start selling off all your franchises. It would be like Sega selling Sonic or SquareEnix selling FF (not quite that frightening but still). I guess its time for some creative development...

n64nut
n64nut

I really hope Atari doesn't sell out and make AitD play like RE4; walking through rooms shooting enemies in the head for 13 hours is just plain boring.

WolfSkill5544
WolfSkill5544

Man, that's a long time to wait for Alone in the Dark, oh well

zalealb
zalealb

i never did play the first game, but this one looks pretty promising. it was sort of let down by condemed in that it wasnt that scray...

t3h-
t3h-

I really hope they wont f*ck up the Alone in the Dark franchise. It has endless potential to be the next cool thing in horror/suspense gaming. Remember the amount of fear you felt coursing down your spine, when you first played Alone in the Dark 1? I really hope that they can manage to do that again. *Crosses fingers*

Tarex
Tarex

They are French, maybe if they would lessen those vacation days and the 6 week "summer break", there might be someone in the office to manage the games being published... The French are running out of comapnies to buy, they should just retreat and leave.. after all, someone will bail them out...

VegetaMaelstrom
VegetaMaelstrom

Atari today is nothing like the storied Atari of old. My biggest concern right now is Atari getting Never Winter Nights 2 out for the PC and supporting it for the next few years after it ships. Don't just kick it out the door, reap the moola for a few months, then disappear without so much as a patch.

Myugenjin
Myugenjin

Atari's gone down hill 4 some years now them and Konami, they both have only 1 or 2 hard hitting titles that could only come out every 3-4 years! They need to step up their A-game and merge if they hope to compete with EA, THQ, or Ubi!

RottenSandBox
RottenSandBox

I hate atari games this is the last game im buying from them

Orasion_Seiz
Orasion_Seiz

alone in the dark was always good but can Atari overcome this losses...

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

Well I feel sorry for Atari it seems like there is almost no thing left for them. I hope they do not go and end up in bankruptcy. I do think that a delay is a sad thing but it would be better to wait and make sure its as good as it can before bringing it out. I think that Alone in the Dark will come to the PC that would be a nice thing. There is almost nothing left for Atari. It is like there holding on to a dieing brand and just trying to get out of a burning building and can't find the exit. So I hope they can get a hold onto the video game market and come back from a dieing grave.

DoomKid
DoomKid

NO WAY, I don't beleave this crap.

lvlUNE3B
lvlUNE3B

I agree with robfield, they have also lost Driver.

blackleech
blackleech

Although Atari did lose some of its good franchises like Unreal Tournament to other publishers, I think it should still do well once games like NWN 2 as well as Alone in the Dark are released.

robfield
robfield

Atari better be careful because they don't really have any definite sellers.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

this game has nice graphics but the demo wasn't fun. Atari rocks even with thsi garbage game

zub1
zub1

Hopefully they're right about this generation saving money or whatever. They've certainly lost a lot of it.

wooooode
wooooode

Well at least he included the Wii when saying powerful next gen systems.

Unknowslayer
Unknowslayer

Good more time for them to work on the game

kevin634
kevin634

I'm no fan of the horror genre, but this game is looking really good.

caesarbites
caesarbites

I think Alone in the Dark is going to be a huge hit. From the previews I've read of the game, the beginning alone is worth the price of admission. Oh, and to you "I'm 2nd/3rd/4th" people, if you have nothing to contribute to the comment section other than that, then you have no business posting a comment at all. No one cares what number your comment is, only how meaningless...

Link_in_Green
Link_in_Green

OMG IM LEIK TEH FOURTH!!! *rolls eyes* What's the point of posting ZOMG IM FIRST!!!1! Anyway, I think this statement is interesting: "We actually are extending Alone in the Dark to some other formats right now we have not even announced yet" I'm guessing episodic content, a movie based on the game, or maybe even a comic.

Enterprise-E
Enterprise-E

Yeah. Atari will be ok. Next time this year they will be swimming in there own bank.

darkheart73
darkheart73

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

WESLY_SNYPES
WESLY_SNYPES

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

LexLas
LexLas

HMMMMM... Interesting...

REforever101
REforever101

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jdbthexboxgamr
jdbthexboxgamr

eh Atari will be all right,once they get their upcoming games out,increase will increase for them........