Friday, February 23, 2018
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Make a ring about the corpse of Atari, and let me show why it went bankrupt

A eulogy for Atari, having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sunday in an effort to separate itself from French parent Infogrames S.A., which is filing a similar motion across the pond (with apologies to Billy Shakespeare and Mark Antony):

Friends! Gamers! Creditors! Lend me your PSN passwords.

I come to bury Atari, not to praise them;

The good is oft interred with thousands of E.T. game cartridges somewhere out in the New Mexico desert.

So let it be with Atari. The noble Infogrames hath told you Atari's U.S. operations were not profitable:

If it were so, it was a grievous fault by Infogrames' accounting, and grievously hath Atari answer'd it.

Here, under leave of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the rest — for Deloitte & Touche, and Wal-Mart and Kmart are honorable companies; so are they all, all honorable companies, to which Atari owed $250,000 or less apiece — come I to speak at Atari's funeral.

The company was my friend, faithful and just to me, having served as my first video-game console, and a cultural touchstone to all children of the '80s.

But Infogrames says Atari was no longer a viable brand;

And Infogrames would know, because they aren't profitable, either.

Atari hath brought many gamers home to consoles whose cartridge slots many weeks' allowance did fill.

Did this in Atari seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried during the Great Video Game Crash of 1983, Atari hath wept:

Profitability should be made of sterner stuff (or at least, better development studios):

Yet Infogrames says Atari was going to make a comeback creating digital-only titles;

And Infogrames hasn't had a viable in-house IP since Alone in the Dark.

You all did see that at the turn of the century, Infogrames acquired Atari along with Hasbro Interactive and gained the name and all its properties, three of which were Centipede, Missile Command and the legendary Pong; which three have oft been refused by the modern gaming public, no matter how often they are slickly repackaged or licensed: Was this ambition?

Yet Infogrames says Atari was worth an $11 million stock buyback;

And, sure, Infogrames was a growing company, but not anymore.

I speak not to disprove what Infogrames spoke, but here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love Atari once, not without cause, because everyone we knew had a 2600, and it was the king of consoles until that weird 5200 came out, and then died a quick death after the 7800 and never recovered from the advent of Nintendo:

What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him? Even if this is a video game company that couldn't find a viable cross-promotion with 1984's The Last Starfighter.

O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts and Game Informer deadlines,

And reviewers have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the bankruptcy court there with Atari,

And I must pause till it come back to me. Or someone buys the trademark and resurrects the 40-year-old company once again.

— Joshua Gillin writes about video games and entertainment news for tbt*. Feel free to challenge his opinions at [email protected]

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