- Atari Games
Atari Games Industry Video games Fate Shut down by Midway Games Founded 1984 Defunct 2003 Headquarters Milpitas, California, USA Key people Ed Logg Products Gauntlet, Marble Madness, Paperboy Employees 400 Parent Warner Communications (1984-1985)
Time Warner Interactive (1993-1996)
Midway Games (1996-2003)
When, in 1984, Warner Communications sold the Atari Consumer division of Atari Inc. (which included the computer and home game console divisions) to Jack Tramiel (who named his company Atari Corporation), Warner initially retained the arcade coin-op division (Atari Coin), renaming it "Atari Games". The agreement between Tramiel and Warner Communications was that Atari Games must always include the "Games" after "Atari" on its logo and that Atari Games could not use the Atari brand at all in the consumer market (computers and home consoles). Unlike Atari Corp., Atari Games had most of the same employees and managers that had worked at the old Atari Inc. It had been somewhat isolated from disarray of the transfer process that occurred with Atari Consumer, since it was still being retained by its original parent and was able to carry on with many of its projects from before the transition as well. Atari Corp., in contrast, was freezing all projects, letting go of much of the original staff, and streamlining operations in general. However in 1985, controlling interest of Atari Games was sold to Namco (a company with strong past ties to Atari Inc.), who soon lost interest in operating an American subsidiary. In 1986 a group of employees bought Namco's share.
Atari Games continued to manufacture arcade games and units, and starting in 1987, also sold cartridges for the Nintendo Entertainment System under the Tengen brand name, including a version of Tetris. The companies exchanged a number of lawsuits in the late 1980s related to disputes over the rights to Tetris and Tengen's circumvention of Nintendo's lockout chip, which prevented third parties from creating unauthorized games. (Atari Games' legal battles with Nintendo should not be confused with those of its former parent company—Atari also exchanged lawsuits with Nintendo in the late 1980s and early 1990s.)
In 1989, Warner Communications merged with Time-Life, forming Time Warner. In 1993, Time Warner once again bought a controlling interest in Atari Games and made it a subsidiary of its Time Warner Interactive division. While Atari Games maintained its identity under the new ownership, its consumer division Tengen, on the other hand, had been removed from the map in favor of the Time Warner Interactive label. In 1996 after an unsuccessful bid by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari Games was sold to WMS Industries (owners of the Williams, and Bally/Midway arcade brands). When Hasbro Interactive bought the remains of Atari Corporation, the console manufacturer, and resurrected the Atari name in the home software arena, Atari Games was renamed Midway Games West by parent company Midway to avoid confusing two Atari brands. Midway left the arcade market to concentrate on home systems in 2001, ending at the same time Atari Games pivotal influence in the arcade industry. Midway Games West, still producing games for home systems, was disbanded by Midway in early 2003 after a slump in game sales. With the demise of Midway Games West went the last remnant of the original Atari Inc. that started the whole video game industry.
Until 2009, Midway Games West still existed as a holding entity whose primary function was to be the copyright and trademark owner for its franchises. In July 2009, all of the intellectual property of Midway was sold to Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Selected arcade games
- Area 51
- Area 51 vs. Maximum Force
- Beat Head (unreleased prototype)
- Championship Sprint
- Cyberball 2072
- Empire Strikes Back
- Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters
- Gauntlet II
- Gauntlet Legends
- Hard Drivin'
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- Marble Madness
- Atari, Inc.
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