Atari in bankruptcy auction asset sell-off but future of the brand remains unclear as French Parent waves big stick…
Atari held a series of auctions from July 16th through to July 19th, selling off their prized assets to the highest bidder. We know now where most of those assets will end up, but big questions remain over the future of the brand and a couple of key properties.
The Battlezone franchise has been sold to UK studio Rebellion Interactive, Star Control has gone to Stardock Systems Inc, and the Total Annihilation and Masters Of Orion franchises going to Wargaming World Limited. Rebellion has bid $566,500 for Battlezone – more than double Atari’s minimum bid. Rebellion have also taken Moonbase Commander, for the $100,000 minimum bid. Tommo Inc have bid $900,000 for Atari’s Fatty Bear’s Birthday Surprise, the Humongous franchise and Math Grand Prix. Atari were seeking $500,000. Interestingly, in the purchase price is a huge list of intellectual properties – classed as “de minimis” (minimal) assets. Long time Atari fans, especially those of the 16-bit generation should sit up and take note here.Franchises acquired include 1942 Pacific Air War, B17 Flying Fortress, Falcon, Sid Meier’s Pirates, Colonization, Gunship, Silent Service, Nam, Crazy Caverns, Chimera, Hardball, Knights of the Sky and many others.
Stardock Systems Inc have paid $305,000 for Star Control – well up from the minimum $100,000 bid but when it comes to Atari’s last 2 remaining big-ticket franchises Roller Coaster Tycoon and Test Drive – there isn’t any news yet although the auction process is over. The same applies for the fate of the Atari Brand and what Atari classes as its “classic” intellectual properties. Atari is back in court tomorrow – July 24th , and it is possible more details will become clear then.
As Atari seeks to raise much-needed cash, including the sale of the Accolade domain name for a nice $50,000 , it has become very clear that the company owes a lot of people a lot of money. As well as the usual claims for unpaid taxes, insurance, wages etc there are some interesting claims.
Atari’s US retail distribution efforts including video games and the ill-fated flashback consoles have left the company with large claims from the likes of Walmart and Kmart for unpaid credits relating to price protection, unsold inventory and customer returns.
Other notable claimants include Chris Sawyer seeking unpaid royalty payments for Rollercoaster Tycoon, Kristen Keller (Atari’s legal counsel and the one sending everyone those nasty cease and desist letters), Nolan Bushnell (for just over $24,000), James Wilson (seeking over $491,000 in an unsecured claim), Britain’s McLaren Automotive (for unpaid royalty advances) and a limo hire company in New York.
Atari’s french parent company Atari S.A, and its French subsidiary Atari Europe S.A.S are making three claims against Atari Inc and Atari Interactive for quite a lot of money. Atari S.A claims it had loan and financing arrangements in place with the American divisions. Secured (priority) claims amount for just over $30 million US. Atari Europe S.A. is seeking over $261 million, yes you read that right, from Atari Interactive. The debt isn’t secured so it is doubtful Atari in France will see much of that money, if anything.
You can question why Atari’s parent has turned on its own children. Is it a ploy to retain the Atari brand? We’ll find out very soon.
Written by Steve Wilds for Atari User Magazine.