Founded in 1971 by the legendary Nolan Bushnell, Atari published the phenominally successful arcade title Pong in 1972. In 1976 Warner Brothers acquired Bushnell's share of the outfit for a massive 28 million US dollars. Warner, creating two separate entities, sold the home computer division, Atari Corp., to Commodore founder Jack Tramiel in 1984, retaining right to the Atari Games arcade division.
1985 saw Japanese arcade giant Namco acquire a controlling share in Atari Games, a share that was bought back by Atari Games employees the next year.
In 1993 Warner chose to rebrand its Atari Games division to Time Warner Interactive. Within three years the company sold its Atari Games division to WMS, owners of Midway and Bally/Midway. In the same year Tramiel's struggling Atari Corp. joined with hard drive manufacturer JTS and, within a year, was closed completely.
One year on, in 1998, JTS sold its Atari Corp. assets to Hasbro for just five million US dollars. Aiming to avoid confusion with the newly resurrected Atari brand, Midway chose to rename Atari Games to Midway Games West.
By 2000 Hasbro Interactive found itself struggling, saved only when French videogame publisher giant Infogrames acquired the company, Atari brand and all.
2001 marked a sad point in Atari's history. Midway, owners of the Atari Games brand, made the decision to step out of the arcade business. As the only arcade manufacturer holding the Atari name, the decision ended Atari's involvement in the arcade industry. Indeed, it marked the end of the Midway and Bally Midway arcade legends.
Two years later, Midway closed its Midway Games West studio. The studio, formerly known as Atari Games, signed the end of Atari's involvement in the home video game industry.
For three months the Atari name ceased to feature on the video game landscape. However, in May 2003 Infogrames announced that its key titles would be published by Atari, Inc., resurrecting the historic brand
The Atari name and famous logo soon became Infogrames' primary publishing outfit, covering everything from triple-A to minor releases. For some years the new Atari enjoyed big hits with titles such as Driver and Dragonball Z, but in 2006 the company's financial reports showed things were far from rosy. In May the company sold the Stuntman property rights to rival THQ, and the following month announced staggering losses of 67 million US dollars. Within weeks Atari sold the licence for Driver and the franchise's developer Reflection to Ubisoft, securing a reported $24m.
Things fared no better into 2007. In April 20% of the workforce was laid off, in July NASDAQ threatened to de-list the company on the stock exchange and in October parent Infogrames axed five of Atari's board members.
In the November of 2007 Atari's Board announced substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern, along with news that Dragon Ball Z owner FUNimation wished to terminate its licence with Atari.
Its future continued to look uncertain in 2008 with parent Infogrames changing its top brass, as CFO Yves Hannebelle and CEO Patrick Leleuat were replaced. Its key triple-A title, Alone In The Dark, suffered repeated slippages, and the company struggled to grapple with the hardcore vs. casual market and flip-flopped over its stance on online vs. single-player.
A ray of hope shone in the late summer of 2008, however, as Namco Bandai acquired a third of Infogrames' distribution business and a "strategic partnership". The deal included an option on the purchase of the remaining stock, leading to speculation of a buy out.
This saw fruit in 2009 when Namco Bandai acquired Infogrames' Atari titles and offices across the European, Asian, New Zealand and Australian (PAL) territories. The fruit was not to sport the famous triple striped logo or Atari name, but instead the somewhat bland moniker "Namco Bandai Partners".
What remained of the Atari brand was now solely within the US, as Atari, Inc.
With weeks, however, Infogrames SA announced it would coalesce the two brands, Infogrames and Atari, as Atari SA. Based in Paris, the holding company would serve as the head quarters for the remaining Infogrames subsidiaries, including Atari, Inc. The vision was to focus on digital projects.
An old friend returned to the company in 2010, with the appointment of founder Nolan Bushnell in the role of strategic planning. Later that year, former Disney man Alex Chung joined, taking responsibility of PC and casual games distribution across the US, cementing the company's vision in the online, casual and digital market, as opposed to boxed products.
Another year and another CEO. 2011 saw former boss Jeff Lapin depart, to be replaced by deputy Jim Wilson.
Following a disturbingly quiet 2012, Atari, Inc., the US based subsidiary, filed for Chapter 11. This was reported as bid to break away from its French parent, Atari SA, and its growing debts.
Atari's first work that SPOnG is aware of is the 1972 title, "Pong" (Arcade).
The company has been involved titles released on the Xbox One, PS4, 3DS/2DS, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, DS/DSi, PS2, Power Mac, PSP, Xbox, GameCube, GBA, N-Gage, PlayStation, Arcade, Dreamcast, Nuon, Saturn, Jaguar, SNES, ST, Mac, Lynx, C64, Vic-20, Spectrum 48K, Sinclair Spectrum 128K, Amstrad CPC, TI99, Atari 7800, Atari 5200, Atari 400/800/XL/XE, Atari 2600/VCS, Intellivision and Colecovision. Of these, "Sonic Adventure 2" (GameCube), "Rollercoaster Tycoon 3" (PC), "Sonic Mega Collection" (GameCube), "Enter the Matrix" (GameCube), "Driv3r" (PS2) has been a best selling title.
The company is currently involved with the forthcoming 2017 release "Atari Flashback Classics: Volume 2" (Xbox One).
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|Bruno Bonnell||CEO||...||-||Nov 04|
|James Caparro||CEO||Nov 04||-||...|
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