For many people, the Atari name lives on as little more than a retro cool brand name affixed to T-shirts. All but the most dedicated gamers are probably unaware that Atari is still alive as a company.
Early last year, the company filed for bankruptcy protection, with the goal of selling off its portfolio of games in auction. Atari parted with a few of the games through that process, but most of them did not attract high enough bids. So the company held on to them. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in December and since then has been piecing together a plan to resuscitate its business.
Leading the turnaround is Frédéric Chesnais, a French game industry veteran and former banker, who became a major shareholder of Atari and its chief executive. Mr. Chesnais said the company was now focusing on mobile and Facebook games, rather than on the far riskier console market, where development budgets are much higher. Atari has announced plans for a social casino game that will exploit vintage Atari games like Asteroids, Centipede and Breakout within slot, poker and blackjack games.
As Warren Buffett once said, turn-arounds seldom turn, but on this very occasion I wouldn’t mind if the “Oracle of Omaha” was proven wrong.