Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Atari Files for Bankruptcy

Feel free to get the "what's Atari?" jokes out of your system now, thank you.

The bad news for various studios only seems to be piling higher and higher these days. Atari may be an old name, but history alone is not going to be enough to save yourself these days. This week Atari Inc, itself a subsidiary of Atari, SA (formerly Infogrames) filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the face of less than stellar results as of late.

Tellingly, Atari Inc is actually filling this claim partly to get away from Atari, SA, according to the press release:

"With this move, the U.S.-based Atari operations seek to separate from the structural financial encumbrances of their French parent holding company, Atari S.A. (formerly Infogrames S.A.) and secure independent capital for future growth, primarily in the areas of digital and mobile games,"

This is an odd circumstance to say the least, although it's not completely unheard of for a group to want to splinter off from the main branch. Still, this method is a gamble to say the least, as there's no guarantee that all of Atari's holdings will stay together.

Speaking of the holdings, aside from all of the classics like Pong, Asteroids, Centipede, and plenty of other titles that probably don't mean a whole hell of a lot to anyone under the age of forty (no offence, but even I've only ever encountered most of these games in terms of nostalgic musings by people around back then). Still, those are up for grabs.

Of course there are more modern holdings as well. While the Driver series as sold to Ubisoft in 2006, that still leaves a few things of note left. There's potential for the Neverwinter Nights series to be picked up by someone, as well as the successful Dragonball based fighting game series' that the company has been behind. I'm not sure if the Witcher franchise's publishing rights are included anywhere in there, but if they are they will surely be something that people will be gunning for as well.

All in all, this turn of events can hardly be called surprising. Atari hasn't been doing well for years, far longer than the recorded troubles that THQ has been experiencing. Perhaps the only shocking thing was that it took this long for the company to file for chapter 11 in the first place. I suppose that if everything went amazingly well then the company could remain fully intact and indeed move out from under the shadow they claim that Atari S.A. is casting over them.

That is, of course, assuming that their claim is accepted in the first place. As always, more news as it develops. Come to think of it I also believe that the due date for the THQ option is either today or tomorrow, so expect some news about that, even if it's only to say that the Clearlake Capital Group has retained the rights because no offers were able to match their collective bid.

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