A fading blip on the vidgame radar

Atari name and logo seem too valuable to disappear

It seems every industry has one: a company with a legendary name that’s constantly struggling but never disappears.

In Hollywood, it’s MGM, a studio in the midst of what seems to be its 500th revival from certain death.

In the videogame world, it’s Atari, which is once again on the verge of going under.

Founded by vidgame pioneer Nolan Bushnell in 1972, Atari is the company that released “Pong,” America’s first megahit videogame.

Atari was bought by Warner Communications in 1976. Conglom then sold it in 1984, rebought it as Time Warner in 1993, and sold it once again in 1996.

Over the past 20 years, Atari has tried and ultimately failed to compete in the home console, portable console, personal computer and game publishing businesses.

Currently under the ownership of French company Infogrames, it has been trying to make it as a small-scale publisher. But 2003 hit “Enter the Matrix” could only keep the company afloat for so long.

In the face of mounting losses amid a general industry slump, pressure from creditors, exec departures and a stock price of less than $1, Atari has laid off 20% of it staff and is looking to sell its game- development studios. In a recent filing, Atari admitted there is “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Though nobody knows how it will happen, Atari is likely to survive in some form. After all, like MGM and its lion, the Atari name and logo are too valuable to disappear.

And somebody has to keep selling those trendy Atari t-shirts.

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