GamesBeat

In danger of being an also-ran, Atari names a new CEO

Atari has named a new chief executive today, promoting Jim Wilson from within to the top job as part of a plan to resuscitate the company’s struggling video game business.

Atari is the oldest brand in video games, but it has not been the most successful. The company has changed hands a few times and is now based in Paris, France. Wilson, who was deputy CEO, replaces Jeff Lapin, who is leaving the company.

For the first half of the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the company reported revenues of $38 million, down 57 percent from $89.9 million a year ago. The company reported a net loss of $12 million, compared to a loss of $37.9 million a year earlier. That’s pretty sad for a company with a brand that goes back to the beginning of video games. Atari’s Pong ignited the video game revolution in 1972.

Wilson joined Atari’s U.S. division as CEO in 2008. He helped turn around that business and has been focused on getting things right in Europe. The company has shifted more emphasis to its digital, online, and mobile businesses. But it suffered a huge setback when Star Trek Online, made by the Cryptic Studios division of Atari, was poorly received. Atari has taken the Cryptic resources and focused them on social casual online games. Smaller games such as Faeries vs. Darklings (pictured) are the focus for the future.

“Jim has the board’s full support as he continues to drive new goals of growth and success. At the end of Jeff’s mandates, Atari is better positioned as we enter the next strategic phase of our plan,” said Frank Dangeard, Atari chairman, in a statement.

But Atari is a small fish in a pond full of piranhas. Rivals such as Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft are far bigger and have proven more adept at making hit games. Wilson will run the company’s operations from Los Angeles.


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