News

Atari Driven to Sell Additional Franchise

| 14 Jul 2006 16:15

An announcement made by Ubisoft, who bought the IP and tech from Driver series, as well assets and personnel of developer Reflections Interactive Limited, reports Ubisoft pleased with $24m price tag.

Nor is this the first wholesale sale made by struggling European publisher Atari. During E3, it was announced that THQ had acquired the IP for Stuntman, and the Texas-based developer, Paradigm Entertainment.

The exact value of that sale is unknown, but Atari valued the separate sales of TimeShift IP (to Vivendi), Stuntman IP, Games.com (to AOL), and the Paradigm studio at a combined $25m.

In February, European trade paper MCV spoke to Atari CEO Bruno Bonnell about The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation's decision to withdraw its line of credit to the suffering publisher.

Bonnell replied, "The Vikings crossed the ocean in wooden boats, getting where they wanted to go on pure determination. We are like the Vikings, and this is our message of hope for Atari."

It was also announced that Atari would cut twenty-percent of its workforce. Bonnell stated: "We have about 250 staff in the US, and that is too many. There has to be some adjustment. There will be none in Europe, though. They've had their pain already."

And in late February, David Perry resigned as president of Shiny. At the time, he indicated to the Orange County Register that his plan was to find a good buyer for the development studio.

"Atari can go ahead and sell Shiny but I think I can help too because I'm on the board of a lot of things. I can bring a lot of parties to the table and I can do that faster if I hit the streets myself."

As an employee, Perry reasoned, he'd be getting in the way. But his way, he'd represent the buyer. "I can act swiftly and get buyers on the table. I pitched Shiny last time and got $47 million."

On May 15th, Perry announced he was forming a new company, GameConsultants.com. There has been no further news on Atari's sale of Shiny, the developer behind Earthworm Jim and Enter the Matrix.

Speaking to trade-paper MCV this May, Atari's CEO Bruno Bonnell was quoted: "I've said that we are not going to rush into a fire sale. The deals have to be right. I hear the rumours and the truth is that, yes, we are in discussions with a number of partners about the studios. Those discussions are on-going, but there is no firm commitment right now."

The Driver series sold 14 million units worldwide, making it "one of the most successful brands in the history of video games."

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