Atari closes Legend Entertainment

[UPDATE] Unreal II: Special Edition is the final edition from the Virginia-based developer.

Most workers look forward to Friday. Unfortunately, that's also the day most firings happen, as was the case at Legend Entertainment. Word came in late today that the developer's owner, Atari, has shut down the Virginia-based studio and sent all its employees packing.

[UPDATE] A source with close ties to the publisher confirmed the news. Speaking with GameSpot, the source said, “Legend has been shut down as a studio, with only a small staff still on board to manage the shut-down and to support existing efforts.” That support staff is expected to remain in place for the next month.

Official sources were less forthcoming.

When contacted by GameSpot, an Atari spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the closure. "You'll have to talk to corporate PR about that one," said the rep, who sounded like he was physically backing away from the phone. "I can't say anything about that." The spokesman then offered the e-mail of the sole person who could comment--an executive conveniently based in Atari's New York office, which was already closed for the holiday weekend. However, it is not a good sign that Legend's Web site was suddenly taken offline Friday evening.

Legend was founded in 1989 by Bob Bates and Mike Verdu, and quickly specialized in adventure games. Despite some early successes in publishing, Legend repositioned itself solely as a developer in 1995. In 1998, the company was bought by GT Interactive, which was then promptly swallowed up by Infogrames, the French publisher which assumed the Atari name in 2002. Most recently, Legend had developed the multiplayer Unreal II: Special Edition, which was released in December 2003.

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