Following the current uncertainty surrounding the intellectual properties of THQ, it was yesterday revealed that another video game publishing company could be set for the same fate, after Atari this weekend filed for the same ‘Chapter 11 bankruptcy’ that their counterparts at THQ have taken.
While the name Atari is best-known for some of the earliest video game consoles and classic pioneering games such as Pong, Asteroids, and Centipede, the company have had a turbulent and confusing history which included several changes of owners, ending up with current naming rights holders Atari SA (a French company formerly known as Infogrames).
However, Atari SA are currently struggling with debt, and in an attempt to break free before they go down with the parent company, Atari Inc., alongside three affiliates, have filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York City (USA).
One such affiliate, Atari US, have announced their intention to find a buyer to taken them on and become privatised, enabling them to place focus on ‘mobile and digital games’. As a whole, Atari’s revenue fell by 34% during 2012, after losing 43% in 2011, with profit margins becoming increasingly smaller and leading Atari SA’s current share prices to be under €1, due to their reliance on London (England)-based BlueBay Asset management for emergency funding, in turn leaving subsidiaries such as Atari US unable to operate as they would like with regards to game releases and development.
Despite the issues at the top, though, Atari Inc. have announced their intention to separate from Atari SA with the bankruptcy, but to the relief of many video game fans they have secured financing of $5.25m in order to carry on their regular operations, announcing that once a buyer is found, they can emerge from bankruptcy carrying little-to- no debt and resume work (including new mobile and console games such as Atari Casino, Dungeons & Dragons, and RollerCoaster Tycoon) instantly under new owners.
While the term ‘bankruptcy’ will be enough to make any Atari fan worry after seeing what is happening to THQ, but as a historic name that can arguably trade off of a small selection of words for its entire lifespan, the question is probably not if, but who will become the new owners in the near future? The videos below are probably a rare occasion in which a couple of clips relating to 1972 game Pong are relevant, although it is credited as kick-starting the video game industry…