Iconic games brand Atari files for bankruptcy

The iconic video games firm Atari has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The firm, which was formerly known as Infogrames Entertainment, bought the Atari name more than a decade ago from its American-owners.

The Atari name first came to prominence 30 years ago when it launched the first videogame, ‘Pong’. Later, it introduced children to what are now cult classics — ‘Space Invaders’, ‘Missile Command’ and ‘Asteroids’.

However, it failed to keep pace with the changes in the fast moving video games market and sold the use of its name to Infogrames, which was the leading videogame maker in Europe at the time, and became better known as a pop culture logo appearing on t-shirts.

Infogrames rebranded itself as Atari in 2003 having acquired the Atari name in 2001 when it bought the interactive entertainment business of Hasbro for $100m (£71.5m). With the name, Infogrames also picked up the Atari back catalogue.

Atari led the home console market in the late 70s and early 80s with its Computer Video System, later rebranded the 2600. It was owned by Warner, which later sold it on in the Nineties to toymaker Hasbro.

In a statement Atari said it expected sell off all, or substantially all, of its assets. These assets include the Atari logo and its game titles such as Pong, Asteroids, Centipede and Missile Command.

Under current management, Atari has shifted its business from traditional retail games to digital games and licensing with an increased focus on developing mobile games based on some of Atari’s most iconic franchises.

In a statement Atari said: “With these moves, the company has added new revenue models, including digital download and advertising. As a result, Atari Inc. has become a growth engine for Atari S.A., which in turn has reported consecutive annual profits in 2011 and 2012.

“The company has recently launched a slew of chart-topping titles for iOS and Android mobile platforms, including Atari Greatest HitsOutlaw, Breakout and Asteroids Gunner. The company has previously announced upcoming mobile and tablet games based upon the popular Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise and Atari Casino.

“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.

“The U.S. companies are also seeking approval to obtain $5.25 million in debtor-in-possession financing from one or more funds managed by Tenor Capital Management, a firm specializing in convertible arbitrage and special situations. Each unit has filed a number of traditional “first-day” pleadings, which are intended to minimize any disruption of their day-to-day operations.”