Some of the big names in the video game industry, such as Sony, Microsoft or Epic Games, have little or nothing to do with those who, during the first years, paved the way for a sector, ultimately a billionaire . A quick look at the 70s and 80s brings to mind names like Namco or Commodore, also Nintendo, which has best survived the relentless passage of time. However, the Atari case and its crazy conversion to a multidisciplinary company is one of the most surprising and peculiar cases.
The American company has embarked on various projects, each one more bizarre: from its ” aggressive reconstruction ” in an interactive entertainment production company with a focus on the LGTBI audience and social casinos , to the construction of a themed hotel with a design marked by the entity’s experience in gaming.
The first two initiatives started in 2014 and have ended up being shipwrecked and half abandoned by Atari . The second, which involves a series of themed hotels with its name, is a weapon with little edge: in reality, it is a project in which the company contributes with the name, the logo and the few licenses that remain, while the money belongs to external companies. However, before this medley of intentions, Atari’s life was already full of ups and downs , even when he had not yet faced bankruptcy.
About brand almost balance
The birth of Atari dates from the end of June 1972, and it has the honor of having been the company that developed the mythical ‘Pong’, one of the most iconic elements in the history of video games. To speak of this company is to speak of the roots of the industry for almost the entire 20th century , but its trajectory is divided into various periods.
Between 1984 and 2001, Atari changed hands on several occasions, its market value rose between 28 and 32 million, and then it was acquired for 50 million in cash and more than 200 in other securities . The fall of the entity, chaining several failures, led its penultimate owner to sell Atari’s name and assets for $ 5 million in a debacle caused by two consoles that failed without palliation.
Its last stage, from 2001 to the present time, is the period of greatest “stability” for the company in its entire history. The parent company Hasbro would sell its subsidiary Interactive and the rest of those components, among which was Atari. The rights went to a French distributor called Infogrames Entertainment (IESA), with which it has remained for the last 19 years.
Despite being under one owner now for the longest period in its history, the past two decades have not been without questionable decisions: in 2004, the company sold the rights to the Civilization saga to Take $ 22.3 million. Two, perhaps the most important strategy franchise along with those developed by Paradox Interactive ; In 2006, it also sold the Driver franchise to Ubisoft for $ 21.6 million. All with the aim of trying to save the accounts.
The company that owns Atari was not having a good time and, although sales eased the entity’s red numbers, the 2006-2007 fiscal year ended with net losses of $ 70 million . In April of that year, Bruno Bonnell, founder of Infogrames, owner of Atari, and CEO of the company, left his post.
An invevitable bankruptcy
The following years were a cocktail of decisions within Infogrames: they took the remaining percentage of a branch of Atari over which they had no control and reunited the entire brand under their ownership. However, the entity’s global financial problems never ended: in 2008, they closed the fiscal year with $ 72 million in losses ; and in 2009 misfortunes multiplied to end the year with almost 320 million negative.
During that time, agreements were made to try to re-make up the economic results , including the sale in 2008 of 66 percent of a joint subsidiary that Infogrames had with Namco Bandai and was sold and renamed as Namco Bandai Partners in exchange for 37 million euros.
Subsidiary companies Atari, Inc., Atari Interactive, Inc. filed for bankruptcy officially in January 2013
In May 2009, Infogrames took the final step to try to exploit the brand of the legendary Atari, still alive in the subconscious of the most veteran and enthusiastic player, and became the current Atari SA . In January 2013, the fateful news arrived: The subsidiary companies Atari, Inc., Atari Interactive, Inc., Humongous, Inc., and California US Holdings, Inc. filed for bankruptcy officially, alleging Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcies of the United States.
Since the economic situation became unsustainable, at least in the video games section, Atari SA has sold more than a dozen licenses to third companies : ‘Alone in the Dark’, ‘Test Drive’ or the classic ‘V-Rallye ‘, as well as many others of second or third level bought up to in packages of more than 10 licenses of classic games.
Aggressive reconstruction and LGTBI games
After the bankruptcy declared in 2013, Atari SA began to think about how to restructure its existence as a company, especially considering that its presence in the video game industry was not the one that had once given luster to the sector. Faced with the fear of falling into irrelevance , the company’s decision was to bet, once again, on several different trends.