After more than a decade of being stuck in a pit from which no amount of neck-levitating and screaming at the screen could help them escape, the U.S. arm of legendary video game company Atari has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, hoping to separate itself from its debt-ridden French owners, who believe money is just so much green papier. Depending on how you look at it, this is either a glitchy glimmer of revived hope for Atari, or the final level of a long, repetitive, ultimately boring end game for the manufacturer behind Pong, Centipede, et al. The bankruptcy filing is a bid to break away from France’s Atari S.A.—formerly Infogrames), just the latest parent company to pick up Atari over many years of diminished value in the home gaming market it helped to found—and get yet another restart. Sort of a "blowing in the corporate cartridge," if you will.
Though Atari's money problems and mismanagement have long been industry legend, since 2008, the U.S. office of Atari has actually made a slight turnaround, through producing classic arcade apps for smartphones and licensing the Atari logo to put on things that 80sTees.com can sell to kids nostalgic for an era they never actually experienced. But as this hasn’t been enough to overcome its French foster parents’ problems, filing for bankruptcy could allow Atari to sell that library of classic titles to a new company, and enable it to continue developing as a “modest business focused on digital and mobile platforms,” as that’s the best it can hope for now. Presumably it’ll also help Atari break away from French executives who keep demanding Existential Asteroids, in which a triangle floats directionless through a black field, dying at the unpredictable whim of the machine.
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