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Atari - we'll move away from distribution over time

David Gardner explains the thinking behind the deal structure with Namco Bandai

Atari CEO David Gardner has told GamesIndustry.biz that the company intends to distance itself from distribution over time, with the recent Namco Bandai deal the first step in that plan.

The two companies announced in September that they were collaboration on a joint venture - currently labelled Districo internally - that would act as the exclusive distribution company for both of them.

That deal initially saw Namco buy a 34 per cent stake, with Atari effectively retaining a two-thirds share, although the structure of the deal allows Namco to buy the remainder of the company in the future - and that's a structure which signals Atari's intentions.

"Yeah, it does," Gardner explained. "Because our business focus, our management team that we're assembling, is really going to be focused on building the Atari network brand, and we're assembling a different management team for - and right now our internal working name for the company is Districo - that will develop its own management team and will become an independent management team.

"Its chairman is Patrick Starr, we've just hired a new CEO of that, and we'll announce at the beginning of January who that is... it's an industry veteran.

"We don't feel we need to own our own distribution. Where we're taking Atari network means we don't have to have direct distribution into retail - we have products that go into retail, but we're very happy being a shareholder and founding member of Districo to do that job for us."

And when asked what the time scale for that transition would be Gardner was succinct, but clear: "It's a five-year plan."

Gardner was speaking at Atari's global event to show off its packaged goods line-up for 2009, and the first part of the interview with him and Phil Harrison is available now.

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