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Atari Files For Bankruptcy 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-combat dept.
First time accepted submitter halls-of-valhalla writes "Atari was one of the very first video game companies, starting way back in 1972. However, this long-running name that brought us titles like Pong and Asteroids is having major financial issues. Atari's United States branches have filed for bankruptcy on Sunday. This bankruptcy is an attempt to separate themselves from their French parent which has quite a bit of debt. The plan is to split from the French parent and find a buyer to form a private company."
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Atari Files For Bankruptcy

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  • This is not Atari (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nimey (114278) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:02AM (#42646941) Homepage Journal

    This is formerly Infogrames, who bought rights to the Atari name after the original went bankrupt.

    A little basic fact-checking would have fixed this entry, "editors".

  • It sort-of is Atari (Score:5, Informative)

    by crow (16139) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:09AM (#42647013) Homepage Journal

    Infogrames bought not just the name, but the company. Yes, it's been through a number of acquisitions and mergers. So yes, the current Atari does, in fact, own the copyrights on the 70s and 80s games that everyone associates with it, and it is still the same company. It's not just a brand that someone is licensing around (like RCA).

    But you're right, it hasn't really been Atari in the emotional sense since at least 1998 when Hasbro bought them.

  • by ultrasawblade (2105922) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:23AM (#42647133)

    Atari died when the Jaguar flopped and JTS quiety bought them in a "reverse merger."

    I would venture to say though that after the crash of '83, and the NES started becoming cool two years later, was really when it started to fall.

  • Re:Copyright (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:42AM (#42647327)

    Intellectual property for American 1980s videogames is a clusterfuck mess. Companies entered into short-term and limited-scope licensing for music, trademarks, images, and the rights to port games from other platforms. And just about every non-Japanese company in business circa 1983 was bankrupt by the mid-90s.

    Some platforms, like Colecovision, are such a mess (legally), it would be basically impossible to EVER commercially re-release most of its old games in their original binary form. Coleco in particular signed licensing agreements that literally specified rom cartridges (one of the Adam's fatal flaws, since it meant they couldn't make tape-based versions with more conrent), expired in 10 years, etc. You'd have to spend millions researching ownership, then spin the roulette wheel and try negotiating new licensing agreements with owners who -- almost without exception -- would act like they hit the jackpot and demand outrageous amounts of money that would kill the product dead, anyway.

    I believe this was a major motive behind the development of MAME -- the realization that some games were doomed to legally rot in limbo for eternity due to licensing problems.

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday January 21, 2013 @01:52PM (#42648789) Homepage

    Infogrames bought not just the name, but the company [..] it is still the same company.

    Not really, the "company" Infogrames bought and "continued" was merely Hasbro Interactive- and they themselves were merely an unrelated company that had purchased the Atari name and IP.

    Quick rehash... the original "true" Atari Inc. ran into trouble following the 1983 US video game crash. It was split into arcade and consumer divisions; the former was "Atari Games" (later sold to Midway, who renamed it and eventually shut it down in 2003).

    The latter was bought by Jack Tramiel and became "Atari Corp.", a legally separate company that nonetheless could still be seen as a spiritual continuation of Atari Inc's computer and console division.

    Fast forward to the mid-90s, and all Atari Corp's recent products have flopped. The company is cash rich, but with no future, so Tramiel "merges" Atari Corp. with JTS, a second-rate hard drive maker. Since this is- in effect- just a means for him to transfer his investment to JTS, Atari Corp. basically ceases any meaningful operations at this point, remaining only a legal entity within JTS.

    A couple of years later, JTS goes bankrupt, and Hasbro buys the Atari IP. No real connection with the original business(es) in any real sense, as there's nothing meaningful to continue by this point.

    So, Hasbro weren't really "Atari" except that they bought the name and IP, and Infogrames aren't really either. Both successors that had any meaningful continuation of Atari Inc. (i.e. Atari Corp. and Atari Games) are both now long defunct with nothing left to continue.

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Monday January 21, 2013 @03:49PM (#42650197) Homepage

    The Atari you see around these days is related to the games bit.

    That's incorrect; Hasbro (and through them, Infogrames) got the "Atari" name and IP through the legal remnants of Atari Corp. who *did* deal in games.

    Atari Inc. was split along *arcade* (Atari Games) and *home/consumer* (Atari Corp.) lines. The latter (Jack Tramiel's) certainly included a lot of games-related business over the years, even if Tramiel initially thought it was a dead end. They continued the VCS/2600, relaunched the 7800 (after canning it for 18 months or so), released the XE Games System (an updated Atari 800 without a keyboard), then the Lynx (a fantastic handheld console developed by Epyx that was years ahead of its time, and partly killed by their crappy marketing) and finally the ill-fated Jaguar.

    Also, the deal was that Atari Games could only use the "Atari" name in the arcade; they used the "Tengen" brand for home releases. Atari Games became part of Midway and was later renamed Midway Games West around the time Hasbro got the home name (to avoid confusion, apparently). I don't know what the status is of Atari Games' rights to the name and IP, but I suspect their legal successor's use of the name will still be restricted to arcade use. (Given that even in Japan- apparently- actual arcade-based games are no longer popular, that's nowhere near as big a deal as it would have been in the mid-80s).

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