Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

Atari Files For Bankruptcy 127

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Atari Files For Bankruptcy

Comments Filter:
  • game over... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:01AM (#42646931)
  • This is not Atari (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:02AM (#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".

    • yeah, my first thought was, "Again?"

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

      by crow ( 16139 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:09AM (#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 @10:23AM (#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.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:32AM (#42647241)

          The company died from poor management and MBA style decisions. Like many other companies

          Atari ST was a good product and then when they followed up with the lousy STE, which had nothing compared to the Amiga's blitter, Atari was on the way do die. Management was MBA greedy and didn't realize the market would choose the better technology, or just plain didn't care as long as their wallets were full.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Atari ST was a good product and then when they followed up with the lousy STE, which had nothing compared to the Amiga's blitter, Atari was on the way do die.

            Yeah, it was sad. I owned both a Falcon 030 and an Amiga 1200. Despite the 16 MHZ 68030 in the Falcon stomping all over the 14 MHZ 68EC020 in the Amiga, the custom chips in the Atari weren't even close to the Amiga. Throw in one of the cheap 100-150 dollar accelerators of the day, and it gave you a 40 or 50 MHZ 68030 in the 1200 that decidedly put the

            • From what I understand, after the 8-bit computers had rolled out, but before the 16 bit machines were designed, there was a trade of expertise between Commodore and Atari. The chip designers behind ANTIC, POKEY, and GTIA/CTIA (the graphic and sound chips in the 8-bit Atari computers) went to work for Commodore, and the Commodore people went to work for Atari. So the Amiga wound up with the better chips, and the Atari-ST fell short.
              • Actually, the Amiga was originally developed by an independent company (Amiga Inc.) who *did* have some former Atari people working for them. The old Atari Inc. provided some support with caveats attached, and when Jack Tramiel bought out Atari's computer division, he hoped (using his typical legally-dubious techniques) to use legal clauses and agreements to gain control of the Amiga. Commodore rushed in and bought them, there was a lot of fuss and legal bickering, but C= ended up with the rights and Tramie
                • At the time, the Atari ST was the only machine with built in MIDI. That and it's relatively cheap price compared to MIDI upgraded computers made it very popular in the music industry.
                • Kind of... Atari signed up Amiga to design a chipset for them - the Amiga chipset is basically the 800 with bells and whistles, architecturally it's very similar - not surprising since both were Jay Miner designs. CBM started to court Amiga and Amiga returned the cash Atari had paid them before being bought up. Atari then had to rush out the ST from scratch in 6 months to fill the gap.
        • That's not the same Atari, although both Ataris have their origins in Nolan Bushnell's original Atari.

          The company was broken up in the early eighties. Part went to Jack Tramiel, but not the games bit. The Atari you see around these days is related to the games bit.

          • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @02:49PM (#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).

            • Should have clarified that. When I said "that's incorrect", I meant that it was incorrect that it wasn't related through Tramiel's Atari Corp. (it was) and that it was a successor to Atari Games (which I assume was the entity you meant). Of course, as I mentioned, Atari Corp also did games-related business.
            • released the XE Games System (an updated Atari 800 without a keyboard)

              Actually did have a detachable keyboard, and closer to the 130XE (actually 65XE) than the 800.

              It was pretty lousy compared to the NES. Ironically my favourite game on it was Mario Bros. Yep, a Nintendo game on non-Nintendo hardware ;-)

          • OK, you mean the arcade games 'half', right?

            This (company's/companies') story is really confusing, and I used to know the various machinations.

        • 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.

          I always figured the big mortal blow to Atari was when Tramiel turned down Nintendo's offer to market the Famicom in the U.S. for them. Instead, they brought the 7800 with its somewhat outdated specs out of mothballs and tried to take on Nintendo directly instead of working with them.

      • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @12:52PM (#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.

    • The French arm certainly is an undead version of Infogrames.

      But what about Atari Inc? IIRC Infogrames only bought the name. So Atari Inc must be even further removed from Atari(proper).
      Last I heard Atari cooperated with Zynga to create Pong. If that is true then both companies are truly frkd. Imagine: Your last ditch effort is to recreate a "game" of yesteryear that nowadays is farted out by first semester students armed with Notepad and and dodgy nutrition.

      Atari in name only and not even that since A
    • by Macrat ( 638047 )

      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".

      You mean like reading Wikipedia?


  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure their patents are expired by now, but does anyone know if the entity currently named "Atari" still holds copyright to the old games?

    • Re:Copyright (Score:5, Informative)

      by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:42AM (#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.

      • This is why we should go back to the original copyright term of 14 years. After that long of a time most works that will make money for the creators will have done so. Any longer than that, and you risk losing the works forever because they become destroyed/forgotten. Also, creators would have to actually create more than 1 good work in their entire lifetime if they wished to continue earning income. As it stands, there's so incentive for artists to create new works as long as their old one keeps sellin
        • by Anonymous Coward

          There are many, many reasons why we should go back to the original copyright term of 14 years. None of those reasons benefit the current super-wealthy corporation conglomerates that continue to lobby the government for even more draconian copyright rules and enforcement practices...so don't expect it to happen anytime soon.

          • If they don't think it benefits them, they aren't being creative enough. What if the next XBox came with a hard drive that came with contained all the music from 1998 (14 years ago) and previously? That would be a pretty good thing to get with your XBox. Or they could sell tracks for 5-25 cents a piece, and it would be pure profit. Nobody to share royalties with. They could do the same with the back catalog of old games. There's a million ways to make money off old content. You can download 20,000 Le
        • I think it's entirely unreasonable for copyright to last more than 2 years.
          Even 14yrs wouldn't release the stranglehold that the current system is putting on the development of society.

  • Name your company Atari.

  • Now Atari. My formative years have just received a major nutshot.
  • by goruka ( 1721094 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:36AM (#42647279)
    And it used to be called Infogrames, known for the 90s PC "Alone in the Dark" saga. Then they became a publisher and aquired the Atari brand to get their products more visibility.
  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:01AM (#42647545) Journal
    Atari was named for a term [wikipedia.org] in the game "go" in which a stone or group of stones are in danger of being taken by one's opponent and the player has only one option available to avoid this outcome . Kind of like bankruptcy. So it seems that Atari has finally reached a state of Atari.
  • by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:34AM (#42647963) Journal

    Eat the power pill!

  • I am pretty happy I got an Atari Flashback a few years ago. It even has marks on the board so you can use it with the old cartridges. I will have to do that one day when I get some time.

  • Atari has filed for bankruptcy several times now. Each an every time, someone buys the name and some IP, then they go bankrupt soon after. It's a curse!
  • Infogrames subsidiary needs cash badly. Infogrames subsidiary is about to die.
  • Baillout for Atari (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grodzix ( 1235802 ) on Monday January 21, 2013 @05:53PM (#42651817)
    Where is the bailout money for Atari? Car companies got it. Banks got it. Why not show some love? People gonna lose their jobs n' stuff...
  • This company is one of a long line of owners of the "Atari" name. Just like Activision, this has nothing to do with the original company aside from the name and some licensed titles from the original company.

  • Wow it isn't even the real Atari. It's Infogrames with the name Atari.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle