Atari unloading Cryptic Studios

Publisher looking to sell Star Trek Online and Champions Online developer, attributes $25 million in losses to studio over past two years.


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.

Just imagine a
Just imagine a "For Sale" sign on the windshield.

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."

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Avatar image for Dekker451

"TekkWolf Posted May 26, 2011 7:45 pm PT Hey Cryptic! WE TOLD YOU SO! ... I guess that isn't fair since it was most likely Atari's own fault for pushing Cryptic to throw STO out the door before it was finished. But I can guarantee those 7.5m/17.8m losings would have been 20+m earnings if the time was spent to make STO right... Star Trek fans LOVE to give money away... but they don't burn it... Very sad" No, it wasn't Atari's fault either. Cryptic was forced to release it when they did because there was a 5-year limit on the IP and Perpetual had piddled away the first three years of that. Considering that Cryptic only had two years to develop the game the launch day product really wasn't that bad. though I imagine it helped that they already had their own engine to work from.

Avatar image for TekkWolf

Hey Cryptic! WE TOLD YOU SO! ... I guess that isn't fair since it was most likely Atari's own fault for pushing Cryptic to throw STO out the door before it was finished. But I can guarantee those 7.5m/17.8m losings would have been 20+m earnings if the time was spent to make STO right... Star Trek fans LOVE to give money away... but they don't burn it... Very sad

Avatar image for Richardthe3rd

It's about damn time Atari wisened up and took out the trash. Shame on them for not doing it sooner and standing behind this company's garbage for so long. Cryptic is one of the worst developers in the industry. Rarely do I want to see people lose their jobs, but they have been disenfranchising customers with crap products for too long. Cryptic just needs to die, fast and quietly, and take all of its IPs with it.

Avatar image for steel_curtain77

I knew this was coming... lol.. And that quote was from Robocop. :P

Avatar image for starduke

"I'd buy that for a dollar!" Anyone guess where I got the quote?

Avatar image for fred092

What do you want most people don't want games that are online play only online play. They want something they can play and win. If it has an online option great. some people will do that. But internet play only is killing the gamer market for the computer.

Avatar image for Rovelius

@majin_lebeau Hit games... consistently? Well yeah, as far as sales go. But you cannot judge game quality from sales. As far as I'm concerned, BioWare dropped the ball with ME2 and DA2.

Avatar image for penpusher

this doesnt suprise me, star trek online was such a disappointment I expect the only people playing it are those who have never actually watched more than the latest movie (which was also awful)

Avatar image for organbank

Excellent news. This proves once and for all the s**t does follow Bill Roper around! Anyone seriously stupid enough to give Bill Roper a job deserves to have their company folded! Now Atari, pull your finger out and release daggerdale next week!

Avatar image for TheTrueObelus

Here's where they discuss changes to the ground combat. << LINK REMOVED >> Not completely convinced but I figure I'll probably give it a chance and reupp when the changes come out.

Avatar image for Ranma_X_basic

I guess i can see why they made Champions Online free to play months ago if this is the result of Atari's purchase of cryptic studios. and just got into the game like last month lol.

Avatar image for tanerb

so what'll happen to neverwinter 2011?

Avatar image for duderdave

Is Atari still running its business models on 8-bit machines? :P

Avatar image for CaoSong

Shouldn't have cheaped out on STO and made it what it was supposed too be... wouldn't have lost money if you had taken the time to make the game as great as you all said it would be.

Avatar image for Sirbobislost

@TheTrueObelus revamped ground combat? really? thats the main thing that i hated in the game loved the space combat sections but dreaded having to beam down planet and do anything other then scanning a few artifacts i may have to keep an eye out for that patch

Avatar image for Sirbobislost

@Ryan2907# what your after is a new starfleet command unless you want the STO ground combat (but why would you? its terrible drags the whole game down)

Avatar image for weedman1985

I'm surprised that Atari had acquired this talentless studio in the first place. Cryptic showed no sympathy towards their customers, therefore I shall show no sympathy towards Cryptic. Good riddence ,I say.

Avatar image for ionusX

if they close champions online I'm going to rage like nobodies business

Avatar image for Ryan2907

I would by a Star Trek game that had Solo missions and you don't need to play online unless you want to. Maybe a version of STO for Solo players with a separate online server similar to Unreal Tournament or Medal of Honor type of online play. I don't play games enough to justify the monthly fees that are involved in MMO games. The only MMO games I have tried out are free ones.

Avatar image for Evilnator

It's a shame that people have to lose jobs like this. On the bright side maybe Neverwinter Nights will be in better hands now.

Avatar image for Harwood

I play STO. I play mostly solo, I distain PvP. I am happy with STO. There have been new content since I have been playing for the last few months. I do see the day I will run out of content and / or run out of rank. Then I will go back to DDO. Then I would check back every now and then to see what STO has added.

Avatar image for TheTrueObelus

My main was KDF and I only really played STO for the space PvP. Currently my account is closed until they add more PvP content. Regardless of who is to blame for the games failures STO is steadily improving. Even a disgruntled former player like myself can admit that.

Avatar image for darkjedilink

I love all the comments from STO fanbois. STO's lack of content - especially at endgame - and the absolute mistreatment of KDF players and PvPers isn't Atari's fault. The onus falls squarely at the feet of Cryptic. Also, Atari didn't rush STO or CO. Atari wasn't involved with CO until the end almost, and the only reason Cryptic got the rights for STO was they promised CBS they'd have it released within two years of development starting. How are these problems caused by anyone but Cryptic?

Avatar image for Zhern

STO is a good game now at launch it wasn’t. And Rift has proved that a good stable game at launch can succeed for a while. The only problem with STO is that it is way too solo friendly.

Avatar image for Valacan

There's a sales pitch for you: "This company cost us millions, would you like to buy them from us?"

Avatar image for TheTrueObelus

Champions Online was always a bad idea. Never should have been greenlighted. Star Trek Online on the other hand could have been amazing but was rushed by Atari. They wasted a real opportunity with STO. However the game is improving. They plan to release a revamped ground combat system in the next few months. They have added a good deal of content since launch and there's talk of adding a Romulan faction next year. STO is heading in the right direction. Let's hope these recent events dont derail it's continued development.

Avatar image for j0abell

Somehow I read this as more like, "Atari looking to jettison Jack Emmert into space."

Avatar image for gix47

well yea,thats what happens when you rush a MMO and leave it broken...Atari should go away

Avatar image for SauhlGood

i play alot of mmo's and this game sucked, i played it had maxd science and assault ships, and finished all the content in one month... I railed against cryptic before, there is alot wrong with this company, everything from their philosophy on making games as cheap as possible, to their payment model.... Monthly subscriptions + exclusive store items... and even with this money grubbing model they still lost money.... this company has horrible priorities... and releasing a game that seems pre-beta charging monthly+store is so damn ballzy and dissrespectfull to trekkies who waited a long time for a star trek mmorpg... Good for you Atari! Dumpem!

Avatar image for majin_lebeau

Rammone-X Posted May 17, 2011 11:52 pm GMT saw this coming.... soon, it will be Bioware and Mythic's turn..... you do know that bioware has made hitgames consistently, majority of them are game of the year winners or contenders.... with the game sales to match...

Avatar image for FoeCrusher

Dump the clunk Atari

Avatar image for skipper847

Make a SP StarTrek Game

Avatar image for ReaversRevenge

i would have bought startrek if it was free. FACT

Avatar image for Machazareel

STO would have been pretty good if it wasn't for the ground combat. I ended up levelling almost purely on sector defense missions just so I could avoid the ground. I greatly enjoyed the space combat, though.

Avatar image for DS_fan_atic

I would have bought Star Trek Online if it was Mac compatible. When will these studios learn? The more people that can play your game, the more that will buy it.

Avatar image for blank3k

If developers actually put as much effort into creating there games as they do into hyping them, Maybe they'd be in a different financial situation. Both Atari & Cryptic are excellent at turning enormous ideas into minor products, to me it's no surprise they have financial problems. At the end of the day, quality & dedication pays.... bodged games don't.

Avatar image for Cptshwan

Done and Done: March 9th, Jack Emmert made CEO of Cryptic, March 31st, Cryptic Posts second year of losses. I guess Jack Emmert really is the Uwe Boll of video game production. Good Riddance. No one is going to pick up Cryptic unless it's at near slave labor bargain prices either. The only question is if Atari is going to split the dev team for Star Trek in a deal similar that saw the creation of Paragon Studios. It's taken those guys a few years, but they turned CoH around from Emmert's follies, and I would have faith that the Star Trek team could forge out a decent property. Champions Online is just terminally ill. At least the game ran for 2 years, so those chumps with the lifetime sub got their money's worth.

Avatar image for Jshaw71

damn atari... cryptic has taken some losses yes, but they have also made a great game, give them some more time, but i guess it's too late for that...

Avatar image for Claverhouse

Hopefully the Star Trek side of Cryptic Studios survives this, if they continue to listen to the fans. Then the headline can be 'Cryptic Studios unloads Atari'. I've played Star Trek Online from the beginning, have come away for a bit just now, but intend on coming back. I think the biggest problem with that game was Atari, money, money, money and greed, greed, greed. I bought Test Drive Unlimited 2 on pre-order because I liked the first one. It was rushed again and still is not the game it should have been. Atari again. I'd advise people that whenever they see ANYTHING with Atari on the box, that they wait and see the review before buying in future - I certainly am!

Avatar image for skull24770437

Personally if Atari had got the licence on Stargate Worlds then the story would of been different but if they are making a loss wont have the cash to get that mmo ever but maybe if they added things like more clothing options more fancy weapons crumbs the've just added the foundry was all that work done for nothing i'm sure it wont affect cryptic that much they might get others like EA to join them and what will happen to wow when titan comes out from blizzard if all gaming companies had joined forces maybe we'd have mmos out there so graphically fantastic even wow would of been revamped with a new engine.

Avatar image for Death_Blade_182

Well you know, there's not much room left for new MMOs out there...

Avatar image for 01-cannon-mpc

Man this sucks for Cryptic. I like Star Trek Online. Thay are one of the few companies that lisen and take the fans opinion in consideration. Thay also have a "Ask Cryptic" thing every mounth. Whare the fans ask them stuff and thay anser. And Cryptic also have enough content planed untll march next year acordin to one of there posts. Like revampin the Borg to TNG with adaptive shielding. And aperently the Borg and 8472 are both goin to make a move in the comin feature. Not sure when. But thay have lots of cool stuff planed that i think sounds cool. And the comunity in STO is grate. Atleast i think so. And Cryptic IS lisenin to there fans. So why not send them a letter on how thay could make it beter.

Avatar image for Boomer76

bye bye Cryptic..

Avatar image for wexorian

as much as i know manyy ppls are buyng things in Champions online they can Boost up game somehow but not star trek, I agree wit everyone that THey had must wasted more time on game and they ruined it. But if atari drops them maybe Ea will join with em they got good Free2 play divison :D

Avatar image for tiggerlu

STO...yet another failed ST game, no ST love coming except for the movie thank god.

Avatar image for Scritty

Bleurgh indeed. One minute they are crediting CS with amazing profits, next they are blamin ghtme for losses. End of the day both those MMO's were cookie cutter presses and very weak compared with the big boys. SWtOR, EvE and WoW will have the whole "pay yo play" market sewn up, while Guild Wars II gives us the free to play experience. Champions was a poor game, laggy and quick to finish. Star Trek was a disgrace to the brand (which has never had the respect it deserves in games) Overall - despite the incongruity of this announcement compared with the November 2010 one...Good. Cryptic don't deserve to continue anyway

Avatar image for Polarskill

They messed up by putting out 2 MMOs at the same time... they should have went with the more widely known franchise being Star Trek. Both of them had very very similar graphics and game-play... meaning they used the same engine for both of them. They would have to make 2 separate teams of people managing both of the MMOs. This creates more jobs, but if they don't make as much as they put out then they don't make a profit and they get screwed over. 98% of companies fail within the first 2 years... luckily Atari has some cushioning. We learn from our past mistakes and I hope that something good comes out of this.

Avatar image for DiscGuru101

I knew CO was going no where, it played like a flat diet version of CoH. STO took me for a moment. The music, the sound, the phasers. But the player base evaporated in 30-days. Yes ground combat sucked, but space combat was epic. Epically lonely too after that first month.

Avatar image for sekkerhund

Can't make money on F2P games? Tell that to Turbine, they must have missed that memo... hugely successful, they've even bought out/taken over their EU operations. (not to mention the other lesser known F2P games that are successes, as well as SOE having some success with their F2P games) Atari has no one to blame but themselves, they crippled Cryptic with unrealistic deadlines and expectations, and then micro-managed them after the releases. Anyone familiar with the CO/STO timeline knows why things went wrong. Threaten me with losing my bonus (the largest part of their salaries), and I'll toss crap out before its ready, too.

Avatar image for jamyskis

@Gruug: Experience has shown that it is almost impossible to make money on a pay-to-play model as well. I would say around 95% of P2P games fail at the first hurdle, simply because paying customers expect a guarantee that there will be a large base of other players online, which really can only be guaranteed with WoW. The costs for running a MMO are considerable in comparison to single-player titles, and you need thousands of regular subscribers to break even. I can't pass judgement on WoW by the way, as I've never played it. I personally have better ways to spend 180 euros a year - like on five to ten other games.

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