Even today, Atari is a name that brings a twinkle to the eye of many a ‘retro’ gamer. Back in the 80s, the brand was synonymous with video gaming – the most popular game console, the most popular games, even a billboard spot in Blade Runner. Now though, some 30 years later, the company is a shadow of its former self, and has officially filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
It’s an interesting situation – a strategic approach to separating the company from its parent, French company Atari SA (formerly Infogrames SA). According to a statement, the move will help Atari (technically Atari Inc., Atari Interactive Inc., Humongous, Inc. and California US Holdings, Inc.) “secure independent capital for future growth”, with the company planning to work in the areas of digital and mobile gaming.
The Chapter 11 process constitutes the most strategic option for Atari’s U.S. operations, as they look to preserve their inherent value and unlock revenue potential unrealized while under the control of Atari S.A. During this period, the company expects to conduct its normal business operations.
Atari hopes to seek $5.25 million in debtor-in-possession financing, and may resort to putting classic gaming assets and franchises up for sale, including Pong, Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Battlezone and Tempest. The only other alternative is to “confirm plans of reorganisation” that will accomplish the same sort of financial result.
Day-to-day operations for all related companies are expected to continue as normal, with assets sold off or reorganisation completed within 90-120 days. We have not yet seen a price for the Pong franchise, but keep an eye out for the ultimate in retro collectibles.