I just read this news story that Time Warner Interactive is planning to buy Midway Games. This would stand as just another boring game industry story for me, if it was not for the “Atari” connection.
You see Atari was bought by Warner Communications in 1976. When Warner “sold” Atari in 1984, they kept the arcade business and named it Atari Games. They sold it to Namco in 1985. When Nintendo struck gold with the NES, Atari Games created a home division named Tengen, and continued to make games for both arcades and consoles.
In 1989 Time Inc. bought Warner Bros. and renamed themselves Time Warner. In 1993, they bought Atari Games in full, and renamed the division Time Warner Interactive, but Atari Games continued to make arcade games under their own name. In 1996, the divsion was sold again, this time to Midway games. Atari Games continued to make games for Midway up until 2003, when the arcade business was closed and Midway began focusing on console games. However, they still owned the Atari Games assets, and released them for modern consoles as the “Midway Treasures” game collections.
So, now, if Time Warner Interactive is buys Midway Games, they will essentially own all the assets that Atari Games owned in 1993. However, that is not all.
Infogrames, who renamed themselves “Atari” in 2003 after acquiring the “home” assets of the original Atari from Hasbro (who had purchsed them in 1998, a couple years after Atari Corp went out of business), has recently restructured themselves and they are renewing their focus on old Atari properties.
So here is the conjecture. With Time Warner Interactive now a “hot” company (their E3 showing of Scribblenauts was met with universal awe and praise), is it too hard to believe that they could finish the job of reconnecting the orginal parts of Atari by purchasing the Infogrames assets now that they are in semi-distress and refocusing on the original I.P.?
It may be wishful thinking, but having all the proper parts of the original Atari back together in one whole is just too good for a die-hard Atari fan like myself to pass-up. All Time Warner would have to do then is to chnage the name of Time Warner Interactive back to Atari (with the proper logos and spelling), and Atari would again be an intact company. They could then hire guys like Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn, and Ed Logg to run the place like it was 1978 all over again (Ray Kassar need not apply). I know, it’s far fetched, but a die-hard Atari fan can dream, can’t he?