Atari's U.S. Business Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

UPDATED: This should bring back wistful memories for gamers who recall how products including Pong, Tank, and the Atari 2600 shaped the video game industry back in the 1970s — and painful ones for media industry veterans. The French company that owns Atari said today that its U.S. business filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it looks to sell or restructure the operation. Hours later, Atari S.A. also filed for bankruptcy in France under Book 6 of that country’s commercial code, according to the LA Times. The Execs made the decision after Atari’s main shareholder and lender, investment firm BlueBay, said it couldn’t find anyone to buy the game company — and couldn’t continue to fund it. (Two of BlueBay’s funds are in liquidation.) The filing comes in advance of a credit facility due on March 31 as the company says it “has been starved for funds and unable to finance its continued growth.” Atari CEO Jim Wilson says that by auctioning the U.S. assets “we will seek to maximize the proceeds in the best interest of the company and all of its shareholders.”

It’s another sad turn for a company that had been a symbol of digital-age innovation in the early 1980s. One-time House Speaker Tip O’Neill referred to tech-oriented young members of his caucus as “Atari Democrats.” In its hey-day, Atari was owned by Steve Ross’ Warner Communications and served as the company’s main profit driver. But the poorly managed business collapsed as competitors flocked to the game market. Ross famously contributed to Atari’s woes by cutting an extravagant deal with director Steven Spielberg — who he hoped to lure to Warner Bros — to create a game based on the film E.T. The game was a colossal flop. Warner’s shares collapsed, and it sold Atari in 1984.

    1. Technically speaking the “real” Atari did go out of business years ago. These days it’s just a very faded brand-name that various companies keep using in an attempt to get some level of credibility in the market (although how successful any of those attempts have been is debatable)

  1. Not surprised one bit to hear this news. How did they expect to survive when all they did in the past 10 years is produce those terrible flashback systems.

  2. Just so sad to hear this news as I still enjoy playing these games and still have the ET game as well. Cheesy but fun though.

  3. The current Atari bought the Atari name and catalog from Hasbro several years ago. The old name was Infogrames, Inc. and the title I’m most familiar with is “Roller Coaster Tycoon”

  4. Facing tough times is nothing new to Atari, it almost went belly up in 1974 due to horrendously poor management that was put into place… Atari has had quite a rollercoaster existence, if you want to know more about Atari from its beginnings you should head over to amazon and look up – Atari Inc Business is Fun, its a new book that details from the inside, just how the cornerstone of the video game industry got off the ground and how it crash horrendously and then was sold and split up in 1984… its a great read, well worth picking up.

Comments are closed.