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Infogrames Entertainment, SA
Industry Software & programming
Fate Reincorporated as Atari, SA
Successor Atari, SA
Founded June 1983; 34 years ago (1983-06)
Defunct 2009; 8 years ago (2009)
Headquarters Lyon, France
Area served
Key people
Bruno Bonnell (Founder)
Frank Dangeard (Chairman)[1]
David Gardner (CEO)[1]
Phil Harrison (President)[1]
Harry M. Rubin (COO)[1]
Jeff Lapin (COO)[2]
Products North & South
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
Alone in the Dark
Unreal Tournament 2003
RollerCoaster Tycoon
Civilization III
Robot Arena
Revenue Decrease €305.3 million (2007)
Decrease €-103.1 million (2007)[3]
Subsidiaries Atari, Inc, Atari Interactive

Infogrames Entertainment, SA (IESA) (French pronunciation: ​[ɛ̃fɔɡʁam]) was an international French holding company headquartered in Lyon, France. It was the owner of Atari, Inc., headquartered in New York City, U.S. and Atari Europe. It was founded in 1983 by Bruno Bonnell and Christophe Sapet using the proceeds from an introductory computer book. Through its subsidiaries, Infogrames produced, published and distributed interactive games for all major video game consoles and computer game platforms.


Early history[edit]

The founders wanted to christen the company Zboub Système (which can be approximatively translated by Dick System in arabic), but were dissuaded by their legal counsel.[4] According to Bonnell in a TV interview, they then used a mix-and-match computer program to suggest other names, one of which was "Infogramme": a portmanteau of the French words "informatique" (information technology) and "programme" (a computer program). The final choice, "Infogrames", was a slightly modified version of that suggestion, and is pronounced /ˌɪnfˈɡræmz/ in English.

The company logo and mascot is an armadillo (tatou in French), chosen when the company was moved to Villeurbanne. Bonnell commented: "This dinosaur [sic] is our symbol. The armadillo has always survived changes to its environment, from the melting of glaciers to the worst of heat waves."[4]

In the late 1980s, Infogrames was noted for its French computer games that often featured original game ideas and occasionally humorous content. They had acquired several licences for popular Franco-Belgian comics

In 1992, they released Alone in the Dark, a 3D horror adventure game to international attention.[5] They also released Fantasia for the Sega Genesis, with the player controlling Mickey Mouse on a quest to locate lost musical notes.

1996–2002 – growth through acquisition[edit]

In 1996, Bruno Bonnell's Infogrames embarked on an acquisition campaign that would last seven years and cost more than $500 million; the objective was to become the world's leading interactive entertainment publisher.[6] While the company's debt increased from $55 million in 1999 to $493 million in 2002, the company's revenue also increased from $246 million to $650 million during the same period.[7]

In 1996, IESA bought Ocean Software for about $100 million,[8] renaming the company as Infogrames UK and retaining the Ocean Software name as a brand until 1999.[9] This acquisition made Infogrames the largest video game publisher in Europe.[10] In 1997 Philips Media BV was purchased and merged into the company.

In 1998, IESA acquired a majority share of 62.5% in the game distributor OziSoft, which became Infogrames Australia,[11] and in 2002 IESA bought the remaining shares of Infogrames Australia from Sega and other share holders[12] for $3.7 million.[7] In this same year the distributors ABS Multimedia, Arcadia and the Swiss Gamecity GmbH were acquired.[13][14]

In 1999, IESA bought Gremlin Interactive for $40 million, and renamed the developer to Infogrames Sheffield House. [15] In the same year, IESA also bought Accolade for $60 million which was renamed as Infogrames North America, Inc. [16][17] and Beam Software, which was renamed to Infogrames Melbourne House Pty Ltd.[18]

Then in December 1999, IESA made one of the most expensive acquisitions in the company's history. Infogrames bought 70% of GT Interactive for $135 million, and assumed the new subsidiary's $75 million bank debt. By June 2000 Infogrames had invested another $30 million in GT Interactive.[14][19] IESA justified the purchase by stating that GT Interactive provided Infogrames with a "distribution network for all of its products in the United States, as well as a catalog of products that includes Driver, Duke Nukem, Oddworld, Unreal Tournament and Deer Hunter".[14]

Included in the GT Interactive purchase were the game development studios SingleTrac, Humongous Entertainment,[20] Legend Entertainment[21] and Reflections Interactive.[22]

GT Interactive became Infogrames, Inc.[23]

In 2000, the developer Paradigm Entertainment was bought for $19.5 million and in-flight games developer Den-o-Tech Int. (DTI) , later renamed to Infogrames DTI, was also acquired for $5.6 million.[9][14]

In the same year, Infogrames, Inc. acquired the Infogrames North America, Inc. and merged them into their own company.

In January 2001, IESA purchased Hasbro Interactive and the handheld game console from Hasbro for $100 million; with $95 million as 4.5 million common shares of Infogrames and $5 million in cash.[24][25]

With the acquisition of Hasbro Interactive, which was renamed as Infogrames Interactive, Inc,[26][27] IESA became the owner of:

Also under the terms of the sale agreement, Infogrames gained the exclusive rights to develop and publish games based on Hasbro properties, which included Dungeons & Dragons, Mr. Potato Head, My Little Pony and others, for a period of 15 years plus an option for an additional 5 years based on performance.[25]


In October 2001, Infogrames announced that it was "reinventing" the Atari brand (Which they acquired from Hasbro Interactive which they used as a brand for arcade game remakes) with the launch of three new games featuring prominent Atari branding on their boxarts: Splashdown, MX Rider and TransWorld Surf.[28] The brand was a success for Infogrames, and they continued to use Atari as a brand name for console games aimed at 18-34 year olds. PC, educational and casual games retained the Infogrames banner.

MicroProse's UK studio in Chipping Sodbury was closed on September 20, 2002.[29] after the release of the last game under the MicroProse name, Grand Prix 4.

In the same year, IESA acquired the remaining 80% of game development studio Eden Games[30] for $4.1 million[7] and Shiny Entertainment for $47 million. With Eden Games, IESA would publish all of Eden Games' titles, such as V-Rally 3 and later Test Drive Unlimited, and with the Shiny Entertainment acquisition, IESA obtained the rights to develop and publish Enter the Matrix which was the first game based on The Matrix films and sold more than 5 million copies.[31]

In the fiscal year of 2002, IESA had a net loss of $67 million on revenues of $650 million, and in 2003 the net losses increased to $89 million.[9] In 2006, IESA reported a net loss of $201 million on revenues of $525 million, and debts of around $290 million.[7] From 1999 to 2006 IESA accumulated losses totaling €500 million.[7]


In 2003, Infogrames closed down the Sheffield House development studio.

On May 7, 2003, IESA officially reorganized its Infogrames Inc.[32] US subsidiary as a separate Nasdaq listed company known as Atari Inc., named its European operations as Atari Europe, renamed Infogrames Interactive, Inc. to Atari Interactive, Inc.,[26] (a wholly owned subsidiary of IESA),[33] rebranded Infogrames Australia Pty Ltd as Atari Australia Pty Ltd,[11] renamed Infogrames Melbourne House Pty Ltd to Atari Melbourne House Pty Ltd,[18] Infogrames UK became Atari UK,[9] while IESA became a holding company.[34]

Atari Inc. is a public company that, as of 2007, had, as a majority stockholder, the company California U.S. Holdings, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of IESA.[35] Atari Inc. licences the Atari trademark from Atari Interactive, Inc., a license which will expire in 2013.[33] Atari Inc. has the rights to publish and sublicense in North America certain intellectual properties either owned or licensed by IESA or its subsidiaries, including Atari Interactive, Inc.[33]

Atari's Australian subsidiary also distributes games for Konami of Europe, Codemasters UK, Eidos Interactive and SCi. Konami has an Australian headquarters but this is for Konami's Gaming Machines.


In 2003, Infogrames closed down the Atari Hunt Valley studio (The last MicroProse studio) and closed down Legend Entertainment[36] studios.

In 2004, Infogrames sold the Civilization franchise to Take-Two Interactive for $22.3 million[37] Also that year Infogrames lost the rights to the Unreal franchise when the game's developer Epic Games signed a deal with Midway Games.[38] In June 2005, Infogrames sold back to Hasbro the digital rights to most Hasbro properties including Transformers (except in Japan), My Little Pony and Connect Four, but not Dungeons & Dragons, for $65 million.[23][39]

In May 2006, IESA sold the site to AOL. They also sold the Stuntman franchise to THQ and the publishing rights to Timeshift to Vivendi Games. The sales generated $13 million in revenue. THQ also bought the developer Paradigm Entertainment from IESA.[40] In July 2006 IESA sold the game developer Reflections Interactive and the Driver franchise for $21.6 million to Ubisoft.[41] In October, Shiny Entertainment was acquired by Foundation 9 Entertainment for $1.6 million.[41][42] In November of the same year, Atari Melbourne House was sold to Krome Studios and renamed to Krome Studios Melbourne.[18] After this the only developers still owned by Atari were Eden Games and Humongous, Inc.

In April 2007, Infogrames' founding chairman Bruno Bonnell left the company after 24 years; on the day of the announcement of his departure IESA's shares jumped 24%.[43] After his resignation, Infogrames through the remainder of 2006[clarification needed] sold intellectual properties and some studios in order to raise cash and stave off the threat of bankruptcy.[44]

In the same year, Infogrames fired the majority of Atari's directors and laid off 20% of its workforce. For the 2006–2007 fiscal year, Atari posted a net loss of $70 million.[45]

Atari Inc. buyout[edit]

On March 6, 2008, Infogrames made an offer to Atari Inc. to buy out all remaining public shares for a value of US$1.68 per share or US$11 million total. The offer would make Infogrames sole owner of Atari Inc., making it a privately held company.[46]

On April 30, 2008, Atari Inc. announced its intentions to accept Infogrames' buyout offer and merge with Infogrames.[47]

On October 9, 2008, Infogrames completed its takeover of Atari Inc.[48] With that acquisition the Atari brand was re-united under Infogrames.[49] Infogrames said that it planned to reduce administrative costs and to focus on online gaming.[50]

Namco Bandai buyout of Atari Europe and distribution partners[edit]

In December 2008, Infogrames bought Cryptic Studios for $26.7 million in cash plus performance bonuses. Cryptic Studios is a massively multiplayer online game developer and its acquisition is in line with the company's new business strategy which focuses on online games.[51]

Namco Bandai and Infogrames formed a joint venture called Distribution Partners in September 2008.[52] Distribution Partners was defined by Infogrames as a regrouping of "Infogrames’ distribution operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America."[53] This new entity consisted mainly of Infograme's distribution network in the PAL region.[54] Distribution Partners was 34% owned by Namco Bandai and 66% owned by Atari.[53]

In May 2009, Namco Bandai acquired Atari Europe from Infogrames.[55] Its sale and marketing personnel were transferred to Distribution Partners.[55] In March 2009, Infogrames, announced that it was getting out of the distribution business in the PAL region with its decision to sell its 66% stake at Distribution Partners.[52] According to an Infogrames press-release, this sale allowed "Atari to focus its financial resources and creative energy exclusively on developing and publishing online-enabled games".[56]

In July, the deal valued at €37 million was completed;[57] Distribution Partners was renamed to Namco Bandai Partners. At that time the company had operations in 50 countries and 17 dedicated offices.[58]

Despite restructuring, Infogrames continued to struggle to become profitable. For the 2008 fiscal year the company posted €51.1 million ($72.17 million) in net losses and for the 2009 fiscal year, which ended in March, Infogrames posted losses of €226.1 million ($319.33 million).[59]

Transition from Infogrames Entertainment[edit]

During their fiscal year meeting (May 2009), IESA announced that it would be changing its corporate name to an Atari branded name, in line with the use of the name for its subsidiaries. In reference to this, Atari, Inc's CEO Jim Wilson said: "We've gotten rid of the Infogrames and Atari duality, the confusion around that. We are one simplified company, under one management team, under one brand."[60]

Infogrames' May 29 earnings report stated:

"The Board agreed to change Infogrames Entertainment’s name to Atari. This decision will enable us to make the best use of the Atari brand, capitalizing on worldwide strong name recognition and affinity, which are keys drivers to implement the Company’s online, product and licensing strategies."[61]

An earnings press release on July 24, 2009 also provided clarification regarding the ensuing name change that was initially announced some two months prior, rebranding themselves as Atari, SA from Infogrames, SA. Furthermore, this release also stated their intentions of henceforth utilizing the much more recognizable 'Atari Group' moniker with all Atari-related brands and similar such subsidiaries already under their control.[62]


See Atari, SA

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]