Atari files for bankruptcy to split from parent company


FILE - JANUARY 21, 2013: Gaming pioneers Atari, renowned for producing games such as Asteroids, Pong and Centipede, have filed for bankruptcy in the United States. (Andreas Rentz/GETTY IMAGES)
January 22, 2013

Atari has filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to separate its American assets from its French parent company.

In a statement Monday, the game-maker said it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, but will continue operations as normal.

“[We] have decided to take what we think is the best decision to protect the company and its shareholders,” said CEO Jim Wilson.

The company expects to sell or restructure its assets within the next 90 to 120 days.

Founded in 1972, Atari has passed between several owners since its heyday in the 1980s, trying to recapture the success it saw in the early days of video gaming. With hits such as Pong, Breakout, Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command and Rollercoaster Tycoon, the firm has a strong nostalgic following, but has struggled to compete in the modern gaming landscape. In 2008, the NASDAQ index delisted the company for failing to maintain a market value of $15 million or more.

A year later, Atari’s parent company, Infogrames Entertainment, SA, changed its name to Atari, SA.

Most recently, Atari has been one of several game publishers that have been trying to capi­tal­ize on the growth of mobile gaming by releasing app versions of its classic games while developing new titles for smartphones and tablets.

According to the company’s statement, its U.S. assets have been performing well, but problems with its current situation have left it “starved for funds and unable to finance its continued growth.”

Its parent company, Atari SA, has not posted a profit since 1999, according to a report from Bloomberg, and has filed for similar proceedings in France.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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