Atari Inc. looks to go it alone

Atari Inc. is looking to sell off its logo and the rights to old videogame titles including Pong, Asteroids and Missile Command in a bid to break away from its troubled French parent company.

The storied video game company filed for bankruptcy protection with a New York court on Sunday, seeking to separate itself from the “financial encumbrances” of its Paris-based parent, Atari S.A.

The company said in a statement the move is necessary to secure investments it needs to grow in mobile and downloadable video games.

Atari S.A., meanwhile, filed its own bankruptcy papers in France on Monday.

The French company warned investors late last month it would see “significant losses” in 2013 following the end of a $28-million credit facility with London’s BlueRay Asset Management, which will expire on March 31.

CEO Jim Wilson said Monday the concurrent moves were the "best decision to protect the company and its shareholders."

The sell-off process in U.S. will "maximize the proceeds" going to shareholders, he added.

Though its glory days ended decades ago, U.S.-based Atari Inc. has recently enjoyed a turnaround following a move into digitally distributed and mobile games. In fiscal 2012, digital and licensing revenue both grew significantly and contributed 70 per cent of Atari S.A.’s revenue, while sales in bricks-and-mortar stores declined.

Atari recently released games for Apple and Android devices including Atari’s Greatest Hits, Outlaw and Breakout.

“Atari Inc. has shifted its business from traditional retail games to… mobile games and licensing,” the company said in a statement Monday. “It has become a growth engine for Atari S.A.”

In the early 1980s, the Atari brand dominated the then-nascent videogame industry on the strength of various arcade games, the Atari 2600 home system and a line of early generation desktop computers. But its fortunes soon faltered and through the ‘90s its dwindling assets were bought and sold by various companies until it landed with its current French parent, then known as Infogrames. It changed its name to Atari S.A. in 2008.

Atari Inc. said it will either restructure or sell off assets including its library of game titles and its distinct “Fuji” logo.

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