The Return of ATARI
Franco-American video gme publisher Infogrames, in an effort to increase its profile with consumers by reaching back into gaming history, said Wednesday it is changing its name to Atari. To mark the new Atari and the new ticker symbol ATAR, Chief Executive Bruno Bonnell is set to open the Nasdaq on Wednesday.
Infogrames/Atari shares have been on a run of late, rising more than 130% on the Nasdaq since April 18, when the company said it had completed work on Enter the Matrix, the hotly anticipated video game companion to the forthcoming Warner Bros. film The Matrix Reloaded.
The Atari name is the most storied in video gaming, dating back to the early 1970s, when Nolan Bushnell and a team of engineers at Atari created “Pong,” the arcade video game that was so popular machines sometimes jammed up because they were overflowing with quarters.
“What we have decided to do, following a very precise strategy, effectively is to adopt this brand Atari,” Bonnell told Reuters. “Clearly we feel like it is the symbol of the global company that we became during the last two years.”
Over the years, Atari went through many incarnations, and at one point operated as a subsidiary of what was then called Warner Communications and is now known as AOL Time Warner.
It ceased to be a stand-alone company in 1996, when it was acquired by JTS, and in early 1998 JTS sold the Atari rights and assets to toymaker Hasbro.
Infogrames, founded in France in 1983, acquired the rights to the Atari brand in early 2001 when it bought Hasbro Interactive. In October 2001 the company relaunched the brand and began using it as a games publishing label.
Though its origins are French, Bonnell said 65% of the company’s business is done in the United States. Last year the company cut 60% of its French workforce.
Bonnell said the parent company trading on the French bourse will continue to be known as Infogrames Entertainment, as the process for changing the company’s name will take longer there.
The Return of ATARI