Pong creator Atari files for bankruptcy

U.S. arm of iconic company hopes to "break free" and set up shop as a mobile and digital publisher.

by

The long-troubled U.S. arm of Pong, Breakout and Asteroids creator Atari has filed a petition for bankruptcy.

Reported by the L.A. Times, Atari Inc. and three affiliates filed petitions for Chapter 11 reorganisation in New York's U.S. Bankruptcy Court late on Sunday. The move is an attempt to break free from its French parent Atari S.A. and refocus the company to make digital and mobile titles, according to an anonymous "knowledgeable" source.

While many of its iconic properties will be instantly recognisable, Atari is not in rude health: its revenue plummeted 34% in fiscal year 2012 and 43% the year before that. The L.A. Times even points out that licensing the famous Atari logo for use in other products now makes for 17% of the company's revenue.

Another problem for the U.S. chunk of the company is "near total reliance" on London financial company BlueBay Asset Management, an arrangement which lapsed on Dec 31 and means the company lacks the funds to release any of its games currently in the works, one of which is the money-gobbling Atari Casino. Last year the company teamed up with Zynga to produce the in-app purchase fueled Breakout spin-off Super Bunny Breakout.

Atari's share price has also tumbled from 11 Euros to less than one Euro since 2008.

Today's Atari bears little similarity to the iconic publisher that shaped the direction of gaming in the 70s and 80s. French publisher Infogrames licensed the Atari name in 2003 and and in 2008 acquired all the gaming pioneer's American assets.

Discussion

95 comments
Micropixel
Micropixel

I still hold 4-player Warlords matches on my 2600.

JKjr86
JKjr86

In my opinion, the DBZ Budokai series was their biggest success in the current century. I still play the first three and even that cheap, pissy remake of Budokai 3, Infinite World.

ecurl143
ecurl143

How the mighty have fallen - this is sad but not entirely unexpected news in an industry where you can be top of the pile one year and insolvent the next.

Expect more of the same in the following months I fear.

farcorners
farcorners

they could always release an app of the E.T. game. Maybe not...

fredwv
fredwv

I always liked Intellivision better anyways.

steve4123456789
steve4123456789

How many times have they went bankrupt; they have been bankrupt like a 100 times.

sieg6529
sieg6529

They should have folded years ago.  They could have gone out with some grace, and instead they are shambling into the grave.

BravoOneActual
BravoOneActual

Mine makes it ninety comments about a founding father of gaming as we know it filing for bankruptcy and fighting for relevance, if not it's existence, even if only in name alone.

There are about fourteen hundred for the XBox 720 feature, all discussing the finer points of multi-cores, hyper threading, VRAM, clock speeds and why consoles are terrible & obsolete or PC users are arrogant & preachy.

I guess the world has passed me by.

00J
00J

... yup yup and yup...

Drummer4Life321
Drummer4Life321

They should have stuck to publishing DBZ games. The ones they published were much better than Namco Bandai's bullshit. 

SteveKurlanche
SteveKurlanche

Not surprised one bit to hear this news. How did they expect to survive when all they did in the past 10 years is produce those terrible flashback systems.

SteveKurlanche
SteveKurlanche

Not surprised one bit to hear this news. How did they expect to survive when all they did in the past 10 years is produce those terrible flashback systems.

dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

Maybe they will come back after they made a remake of E.T. :-P

Ledah
Ledah

Atari died long time ago, I guess, I am happy for someone else to take D&D license and make something good out of it.

KBFloYd
KBFloYd

a shame...they still published a few decent games..

mtait01
mtait01

Atari today is not the Atari that you knew over 20 years ago... it is like comparing Sonic 3 and Knuckles to Sonic ´06

csward
csward

Yay! hopefully the D&D license will go to a better dev, among others.

Yuusha09
Yuusha09

The zombie is dead again!

---Cipher---
---Cipher---

I feel as if this Atari isn't the pong creator, more like a distant cousin, slightly related, but it got the same name and now everyone thinks its the same person.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

Well this was a long time coming, at least they didn't take 90% of the industry with them this time.

Saketume
Saketume

Ok here it is. Atari died in 1996 when they were sold to JTS Inc.

After that they have lived on in name only. First with JTS as mentioned then sold to Hasbro 1998.

Infogrames 2001.


So what are we mourning here today anyway?

TrueGB
TrueGB

Bankrupt? Again?

starfox15
starfox15

Move to where the money is. I'm surprised they didn't do this sooner. Atari arcade classics are a perfect fit on android and ios and the ip's could be condensed fairly easily if given the appropriate care. 

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

This iteration of Atari has 0% to do with the Atari of the 80s.  So in essence, the US arm of Infograms is filing for bankruptcy - the real Atari died a few decades ago.

Unholy123
Unholy123

Wonder what this means for the NWN (Never winter Nights)  property because doesn't Atari own the trademark to those games? (I Might be wrong and they may have sold it off or perhaps they don't own it but I remember seeing their logo when I loaded those games)

+ Did they not have some new Neverwinter game coming out called 'Neverwinter' wonder if thats dead in the water now.

craigprime
craigprime

They weren't dead yet? Ah, whatever. Hope they do a better job on the crappy games for non-gamers market.

hobotech64
hobotech64

How many times has Atari died now?

Savior4Life
Savior4Life

Gonna go the way of Square-Enix and defile their name further with PTW and freeware games I see.

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

Actually I though Atari was toast a long time ago, so this is a surprise.

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

@PSYCHOV3N0M You won't see any more of the Test Drive series unless someone buys the rights to it and makes their own game.

leeko_link
leeko_link

@Drummer4Life321  

I agree though I did enjoy DBZ Attack of the Saiyans; however, that one was made by Monolith Soft, a Nintendo developers. Atari was great when they were handling the DB & DBZ games huh... Advanced Adventure, Origins, Legacy of Goku II, Buu's Fury, Supersonic Warriors, Legendary Super Warriors, Budokai, Tenkaichi, Super DBZ, etc. Such awesome times. We'll just forget that Ultimate Battle 22, GT, Legacy of Goku 1, Sagas, and Taiketsu never existed.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

@Ledah  Their demise started on July 2,1984 when Warner announced it was selling the company off and thus it was confirmed that the US game industry had collapsed. After Jaguar marketed the 3rd  consecutive console failure in 1996, Atari left the hardware business forever and became Atari Games, SEGA would follow suit in 2001 but unlike Atari who finally closed it doors in March 2003, Sega is still alive and strong and is re-organizing into a larger,bigger company.


So there's a tremendous difference. "Atari" is just nothing more than a Brand name. Service Games however is STILL the same company they were 20 years ago. The management is different, the properties and licenses are the same and the names and rights of its consoles the Saturn and Dreamcast ARE still PROTECTED, its just been an overseas software publisher and Japanese franchise license brand.


Sega has climbed out of a $3 billion dollar do-nut hole and brought its original purchaser Sammy Corp. They are ready to transition and reform into a bolder and STRONGER company. called " SEGA ORBI Enterprises".

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

@mtait01 It's NOT even Atari at all. The original company filed for Chapter 7 on March 7,2003.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

@Saketume Actually Atari died when Warner Communications sold them off to The Tremiels in 1984, thus crashing the industry.

Saketume
Saketume

@Sevenizz Exactly!

They just bought the name. The news editor should know about this.

Onix95
Onix95

Neverwinter Online is being developed by Cryptic studios. Cryptic was sold by Atari to PWE a couple years ago. The game is currently in alpha right now.

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

I believe Atari holds the D&D license for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.  Therefore no D&D Forgotten realms games can be released unless someone contracts with Atari.  I believe Atari's license expires at the end 2014.  Basically, Atari has sat on this license and produced almost no games with it, hence the virtual drought of D&D based computer games, since the Forgotten Realms is the most popular D&D setting.

Lytmare
Lytmare

@Savior4Life Hey, I take offence to that. Square is just trying to transition... and it's not pretty.
Everyone seems to be saying that games are going to handhelds, and Square-Enix made two of the greatest hand held games ever, Disidia I & II.

Saketume
Saketume

@digitaltiger They perished ages ago. The name "Atari" was valuable however so it has changed owners.

Useless article is useless.

Saketume
Saketume

@LindBergh2007 @Saketume Well. That split can be considered the end I suppose. I still count it as atari when they go on to produce the Atari ST and other home computers however. After '96 they just aren't a company anymore. Just a name.

Savior4Life
Savior4Life

@Dirk_McHardpeck I'm not saying SE doesn't release any good games, I bought DE:HR; I'm saying they are damaging their reputation by releasing these garbage money grabber games for mobile devices.

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

@Saketume Ya, most of gamespot's articles are. But once and awhile a really good one comes along.

LindBergh2007
LindBergh2007

@Saketume Correct. The last of the actual Atari company was dissolved on March 7,2003. Atari Games was what was left of the original company. 

The only thing that's left of Atari is a brand name.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

@Savior4Life @Dirk_McHardpeck Doubt it''s gonna do more damage then their last 5 or so Final Fantasy games (and that's not even counting the incredibly shitty and stupid side-sequals and spin offs.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

@digitaltiger @Saketume Really has been a while since the last one though. But yeah, this is possibly THE mopst worthless article I've read outside of most Eddie Makuchs crud.