Gamers and journalists were semi-shocked when the grandfather of gaming, Atari, filed for bankruptcy this week. It’s true that Atari hasn’t exactly been at the top of its game recently, but it didn’t seem like they were doing this poorly. However, it’s a little more complicated than just a lack of money, and it could have a major effect on the gaming industry. Here’s what you need to understand:
1. Atari is not going out of business.
The bankruptcy of Atari U.S. has very little to do with their own financial trouble and much more to do with the problems that their French parent company is experiencing. This bankruptcy is an attempt to detangle the U.S. branch from its French counterpart. If successful, Atari U.S. would become a privately owned entity, which would free the developer from stockholders and its reliance on BlueBay, a London-based financial company.
Essentially, this means that Atari would actually have the capital that it takes to successfully launch a few games.
2. They want to focus on mobile titles.
Part of the reason that Atari wants to shake off their parent company has to do with the industry's newfound addiction to mobile gaming. The short development times and massive consumer base have drawn many big-name studios, but it's a particularly good fit for Atari.
If they can manage to hang on to some of their original properties and release a few mobile apps, they could really see an insurgence of funding for other projects. I wonder if they could somehow use the iPhone's gyroscope as a controller for Pong...
That was my idea, Atari! No stealing.
3. Atari is ready to move on, and you should be too.
One of the biggest tragedies of this bankruptcy, from an artistic perspective, is the fact that Atari's iconic logo is going to end up on the auction block. This means that, aside from the name, Atari will have no control over where their logo ends up.
Though, to be fair, the logo has traded hands so many times that it doesn't really have the same meaning that it had in the 80s. Actually, the fact that Atari is ready to let go of the logo should tell you a little bit about their mentality. They're ready to embrace the next stage of gaming and let go of their nostalgic past. Maybe we should follow suit.
Date: January 22, 2013