Atari gets Cryptic, Star Trek Online due in '10

One week after unveiling an ambitious slate of releases, resurgent French publisher acquires developer of City of Heroes and Champions Online; sci-fi MMORPG now two years out.


Last week, journalists and retailers were invited to London's O2 arena for a major press event held by Atari. Although the French publisher marked the occasion with announcements of new distribution deals and previews of games such as Ghostbusters, an even bigger announcement came today. San Francisco Bay-based developer Cryptic has been fully acquired by Atari, becoming the once-destitute company's first in-house massively multiplayer developer.

Atari will keep on Cryptic's 150-odd employees, as well as all of the company's properties, technology and work-in-progress. This includes two console-PC MMORPG projects: the superhero-themed Champions Online, due in 2009, and Star Trek Online, which is now set to launch in 2010. The release also teased another upcoming game from the developer, which will be revealed in the near future.

Cryptic has previously developed City of Heroes and City of Villains, which earned more than $100 million in lifetime revenues for the studio and the game's Korean publisher, NCsoft. NCsoft purchased the City of Heroes/Villains license outright in 2007, giving Cryptic seed money for a now-canceled Marvel Comics MMORPG that was to be published by Microsoft. That project went on to become Champions Online, based on Hero Games' classic pen-and-paper role-playing title, and 2K Games signed on as publisher in July.

Atari's announcement did not mention 2K Games, and reps for the company had not returned requests for comment as of press time. An Atari rep gave the following statement: "Regarding the existing deal between Cryptic and Take-Two (2K Games) for Champions Online, Atari's acquisition of Cryptic is obviously new information for Take Two and we are talking to them to secure the best future for the game. More information will be coming soon."

The Cryptic news is a rare bright spot in a cloud of bleak announcements in the MMOG space. At the end of November, Age of Conan developer Funcom revealed that it was axing an unspecified number of jobs. In the same week, NCsoft announced that it would shut down Tabula Rasa in February 2009, just after Hellgate: London closes on January 31. On the upside, Blizzard's World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King sold 2.8 million copies in just 24 hours--equating to some $108 million in sales.

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Avatar image for LordChimera

Star Trek online on 360..........BOOOYAAAH!!!!!!!!!! Best gaming news i've heard in a while. I hope they do it well.

Avatar image for Swampthing

The folks at Cryptic should be devoting more time to improving their CITY OF HEROES/VILLAINS titles instead of working on CHAMPIONS ONLINE... Based upon the previous shown on GAMETRAILERS TV, this new game looks terrible. Characters are tiny, shown from overhead perspective. Looks like a cheap $2 whore to me...

Avatar image for The_Maitomies

nice, can't wait for the new MMORPGs to hit the consols :D

Avatar image for OneNeo1

Definitely can wait for ST:O if it means it will be fantastic, Champions looks interesting, so will wait and decide when more gameplay video is available to watch.

Avatar image for shadowblade99

Some good news there.

Avatar image for Koal_Jadian

World of Warcraft is destroying the industry - no other games can come out or be successful so we're stuck with old crappy graphics and no advancement in the MMORPG sector.

Avatar image for animeownage

Another delay... well STO is either never comming out or Atari will find some way to ruin it. *good bye crule world*

Avatar image for StromileSwiftee

whew... for a moment I thought Champions wouldn't come until '10. Here's to Fall of '09!!!

Avatar image for cosmicsentinel

Over at STO's official site, the Devs have said that they are aiming for Fall 09 and that nothing has changed in either Champion's or STO's development.

Avatar image for geldonyetich

Just so long as Atari doesn't feel like screwing around with Cryptic's game design genius, I don't mind the merger so much. On the other hand, if they pull an old school EA versus Origin move here, I'm crying bloody tears.

Avatar image for RavageGT

I hope they do Champions Online well for the Xbox 360, I liked CoH/V a lot because it was more on making a awesome superhero as opposed to trying to get the best equipment and gear.

Avatar image for BloodMist

Well that's great, means there's practically zero chance of yet another promising MMO going under.

Avatar image for Media_Mind

thats sooo far away

Avatar image for dkpunk

And WAR keeps picking up steam *joy*

Avatar image for trodeback

Star Trek online's release date is starting to sound like Halo the movies release date.

Avatar image for stangen

star trek online sounds like a snooze fest like the movies.

Avatar image for shufflezoom

ghostbusters,Ridick Assault on Dark Athina , Witcher white wolf , Baldur's Gate, Star Trek Online,Phil Harrison . One thing to say , welcome back Atari!

Avatar image for chikahiro94

I'm reasonably sure they're not aiming to compete with WOW in any way, shape, or form. Notice that CO and STO are pretty much focused, niche titles.

Avatar image for halowarrior_117

I think I will buy KOTOR Online before I get Star Trek Online. But dont get me wrong i love star trek but I prefer star wars.

Avatar image for djmillard2

you try to cut off one of WoW's heads.... and you just get pwned

Avatar image for Ranma_X_basic

I'm all for Atari purchasing cryptic since the only game I'm looking forward to is champions online any way!!!

Avatar image for oflow

Actually Zoom you underestimate the mass appeal of the Star trek universe. I'd wager there are a lot of older MMO gamers that prefer the Star Trek universe to Star Wars. Not saying that Bioware's game wont sell or be good, but Star Trek is very different and has its own audience. I for one am looking forward to the Star Trek MMO, it could be the MMO to finally break the WoW-clone mold that every MMO is falling into nowadays. It will definitely attract a more mature audience, which has drastically fallen off in MMOs since WoW took over as the internet standard, with its mass of millions of interwebz netspeaking retards that just want instant gratification. The last MMO I actually played that had a respectful community was FFXI. I hope they make the game have more depth than all the WoW clones and brings something new to the table.

Avatar image for ScottEFresh

Ever since Atari got Phil Harrison they have been making all the right moves.

Avatar image for PlayerPrezident

Atari FTW!!!!!

Avatar image for uberjannie

klugenbeel : not like tabula rasa eh? =P

Avatar image for klugenbeel

Zoomer30, Never estimate the ability of Trekkies to make the product sell. If Star Trek Online is at least good, it will last...won't be any WoW...but it will last.

Avatar image for Zoomer30

Star Trek MMO: The MMO That Will Not Die. They just need to give up. So much cash has been thrown at this pit, and nothing to show for it. The only new MMO that has a chance in the next few years is KOTOR Online. And Atari is the Company that Will Not Die. I mean one minute they are on the brink of going POOF! and the next they are buying up companies left and right. Did they get a gov bail-out? ;) Guess Atari must be "too big to fail".

Avatar image for marco245

Star Trek is one MMO I'm interested in. The game will sell, but they need to get things right. I think Atari are either making a risky move or clever business decision on buying companies at this time. If they buy cheap in this economy, they could get big gains in the comin years. Atari are appealing to casual, hardcore and RPG gamers, their market is solid. Great news I think

Avatar image for gunswordfist

I'm actually glad Atari brought Cryptic. They let all of their workers stay and everything. Plus, Atari's futuire seems bright with the upcoming Ghostbusters and Riddick game. Hopefully this will mean Cryptic won't have to lay off anyone anytime soon.

Avatar image for Nickfury101

From nearing the brink of obliteration to now acquiring some decent Ip's, it looks as if Atari has started to turn it's fortunes around. Ghostbusters, Star Trek, and CO, may not be saviors for the company, but at least it will be baby steps in the right direction.

Avatar image for jknight5422

Hopefully now that NCSoft has scrapped the awful mmorpgs, it can focus on making CoH/V a better game. If Champions Online & DC Universe Online come out, it's going to have serious competition. I'm a bit worried about Cryptic being acquired so I guess we'll see if they can pull through with Champions Online. Hopefully it'll avoid a COH/V look & feel at least.

Avatar image for ZhugeMarc

Wait, Funcom can't axe jobs. They've still got to finish Dreamfall Chapters and the TLJ MMO for me. Dammit!

Avatar image for chikahiro94

@ buzzguy Given its coming out on PC and 360? It should be able to surpass COH's current numbers no problem. Not sure how the upcoming Mac version of COH will do for NCSoft (well, I hope). But honestly, all that matters is that its profitable and good to go at launch. Look at how many copies Age of Conan sold and how Funcom is doing :( I'm hoping that with the additional resources of Atari we might see CO on the PS3 too, making it a game that literally anybody can enjoy. I'm a firm believe that good games should be everywhere :D

Avatar image for buzzguy

Man, I'm telling you, Atari is gonna turn their fortunes around! Champions is gonna be a cult game, and is going to surpass CoH/CoV's subscriber numbers. The fact that it will be cross-playable on both PC and 360 is certainly going to help.

Avatar image for chikahiro94

Can't say I saw this coming at all. And I'd argue that COH/COV got better after Jack left (he's producing CO), and even better when NCSoft bought out COH entirely. Emmert might be a good choice for starting a game, but Matt Miller (Positron) has proven to be much better for continuing that game, I think. Best of luck to Atari and Cryptic - more competition in the field is good.

Avatar image for animeownage

Well good for you Atari... but don't you mess with my Star Trek!

Avatar image for sgt-hawkins

oh yeah maybe next gen we will see the atari 1080 come out go atari

Avatar image for vaskaville

They just told the release date for STO! Yay!!!! 2010

Avatar image for cjdaweasel

I wonder if this will affect STO's development, or if it will continue as though nothing happened. It'd be kinda dumb for them to throw away a license after they dropped so much money on it.

Avatar image for Franko_3

Big hit to ncsoft. COH and CoV were both great games, I hope the next mmo will be good :D Good move atari.

Avatar image for SaruKenshin

makemeweak, CoH and CoV are great games, but Cryptic doesn't own them anymore, NCSoft does.

Avatar image for Jade_Monkey

I'm just surprised Atari has the money to do this deal. maybe Infogrames paid for it, I don't know. Either way my best wishes to atari.

Avatar image for jroenick


Avatar image for Gribb85

Go Atari

Avatar image for XCyberForceX

Here we go again.

Avatar image for makemeweak

Wow-Atari is making some great, bold moves lately. CoH/CoV are great games.