Sections

Atari seeks $22.2 million in bankruptcy auctions

Rollercoaster Tycoon up for $3.5m, but Total Annihilation could go for $250k

Atari will sell its assets piece-meal after failing to find a bidder for the entire catalogue, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A document filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday indicated that Atari is looking for minimum bids totalling $22.2 million. The auctions will be held over four days, and it is now vital that Atari raises interest in its assets in order to recoup some of its losses.

On that matter, the one-time giant publisher has struggled. Atari filed for bankruptcy protection on January 21 but, despite appealing to more than 180 potential buyers, only 15 submitted preliminary bids for its catalogue. Atari deemed none of those offers "acceptable" to serve as a stalking-horse bidder.

"The Debtors believe that this type of a targeted bidding process affords the Debtors the best opportunity to market the Assets and maximize the value thereof for the benefit of all stakeholders," the paper said.

The auctions are scheduled to take place in July, pending court approval. The most valuable single asset is Rollercoaster Tycoon, which will require a 3.5 million minimum bid. The Test Drive racing franchise will be available for $1.5 million.

But the most promising lot may well be the Total Annihilation franchise - a classic RTS designed by Chris Taylor and Cavedog Entertainment - which could be sold for as little as $250,000.

Atari has requested that some of its assets be sold outside of the auction process, on the grounds of their "minor value."

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Latest comments (12)

James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios3 years ago
With all this mess I wonder what will happen to the copyright to the old Atari ST TOS ROMs and other Atari Corp. stuff? Not something that many would be interested in, but I'm one of the few that are... :)
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Andrew Animator 3 years ago
TA at that price is a BARGAIN!
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 3 years ago
I would love to play a modern TA. The other Annihilation series sequels are too "zoomed out" for my taste.
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Nick Parker Consultant 3 years ago
I'm with you James. The Atari brand should be for sale and with it all the IP associated with it (centipede, missile command and Pong) before Infogrames bought Hasbro in 2001.
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I know how hard it must have been for GamesIndustry.biz to cover this story. I can also guess that there are some current Microsoft executives (ex-Atari) that will also find this incredibly painful reading regarding their association.

This is a incredibly messy situation, and in some cases could still see legal action from the French-Infograme-investor side of the table. I feel slightly sick to think how many people supported this rats-nest of a crash - and the duplicity of many that still hold positions of trust in the industry.

This implosion will come back to bite many!
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@Nick - when I say rats-nest I mean "ultra-complicated"!
Trying to salvage what is actually owned from the Hasbro-Infogrames acquisition was a mess at the time. I have some knowledge of the situation and had the pleasure of drawing up a initial overview document of the "reality" of what Infogrames had acquired of the Atari brand! The board was very surprised when they found how little of what they thought they owned, they did actually control! Spending a considerable sum trying to fix the leaky deal and down play the incompetence.

I would not be surprised that much of the Atari brand has been divested privately to try and hide the duplicity of those involved in such a poor business move. That duplicity could see a confused situation on ownership for the foreseeable future. Remember Microsoft has acquired much of the usage for important Atari classic IP - and there is the whole "Trammel" situation over the computer division. A real rats-nest!
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James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios3 years ago
Sadly I have to agree even finding out who owns what is a nightmare! So many changes of hands have gone by in the last couple of decades. I'd love to know who actually has the rights to the Atari Corporation stuff. Any enquiries with Atari themselves on what they own, unsurprisingly, doesn't clear anything up. Is there confusion if the Tramiel's still own the rights to the old Atari Corporation (not Atari Games) stuff?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Boulton on 23rd May 2013 1:56pm

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@James - there is an argument that the Tramiel family may not have had the right to represent themselves in the sale of certain Atari Corp., assets. I had the pleasure to work for a company supporting Jack during the Atari Corp., period (my Atari ST still sits in the loft!) But even I knew that the ex-Commodore supremo may have been a little free with what was retained by them, or covered under joint agreement, or retained license.

I still have the Atari / Atari Corp., / Atari Ent., document we created that covers the brands and IP and at that time (2003) ownership. It made fascinated reading (and was fun to research) blowing the legal team at Infogrames/Hasbro own research out of the water.

On the game front, the whole Midway/Microsoft IP ownership makes fascinated reading, and for some Infogrames executives caused them to exclaim "... what the heck have we actually brought!"
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James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios3 years ago
Thanks Kevin, very interesting! I'd love to know where the copyright of "TOS" went from Atari Corp. just so it would be possible for me to release an Atari ST emulator on iOS with all the relevant agreements in place for Apple. Atari SA are very protective and uncooperative over this, sadly, even if it's essentially of no value to them. Or even if they own the copyright at all...

It's been an annoying trail of dead ends over copyright of old games too. All the great Thalion works seem to dissappeared into realm of the unknown after multiple sales of the assets. The joy of IP rights! :)
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@James - I totally agree, it is as if the consumer game trade wants to hide its history - I have even seen some ex-publishers skip development resources of popular titles just to clear their decks!

When Infogrames acquired Ocean IP they skipped shedloads of stuff, while the same happened at Gremlin - its as if they have a guilty conscious about ownership (programmers may popup in the future and demand a cut because they had a contract).

An industry that forgets its past will be cursed to repeat it!

Regarding Atari ST emulation - I think Jeff Minter was working on one in the day - also the guys at Probe?
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Adam Yau Game Programmer 3 years ago
I miss Rollercoaster Tycoon >_< Hopefully someone pick it up and make a sequal for it.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
Well... crap. There goes my plans to dance around the room (not naked, that Kinect might see me!) when I heard Space Lords was being remade (still one of the best multiplayer games EVER)...
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