Less than three years ago, Atari acquired Cryptic Studios in a deal potentially worth $75 million, with the intention of making the massively multiplayer online game developer a cornerstone in its transition to becoming an online game publishing giant. That intention will never be realized, as the publisher today announced it plans to wash its hands of the studio behind Star Trek Online and Champions Online.
Atari revealed the planned divestiture in its full-year financial report, with Cryptic's impact on the bottom line filed under the "discontinued operations" section of Atari's report. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011, Atari reported that Cryptic lost a total of €5.3 million ($7.5 million). That was an improvement over the prior year, when Cryptic launched both Star Trek Online and Champions Online, and Atari had the studio down as losing €12.6 million ($17.8 million).
"In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the changing marketplace," Atari explained in its financial report. "Therefore, the company has made the decision to divest itself from Cryptic Studios. The divestiture process is underway and more details will be provided as appropriate."
Beyond its previous two online role-playing games, Cryptic has also been at work on Neverwinter, an online game based on the Dungeons & Dragons brand popularized in games by the Neverwinter Nights series. As of press time, Atari has not responded to GameSpot's request for a status update on Neverwinter, or how the divestiture will impact the ongoing operations of Champions Online and Star Trek Online. However, a community representative on the Star Trek Online forums indicated "there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate."