Atari Gaming Company Reborn, Sort Of

In an interesting twist in the multi-billion dollar gaming industry, a beloved name from the past has resurfaced, that of Atari. Atari brought video games to the world with Pong, and then brought them into our homes with home Pong, and eventually the now legendary Atari gaming system. Mac trivia buffs will remember that before there was Apple, Steve Jobs got his buddy Steve Wozniak to design the game Breakout for Atari, where Steve Jobs worked. The hijinks that ensued are perhaps left to another article for another time, but this is part of the reason that Breakout can be found on the iPod, and has long been a part of Mac OS Easter Egg lore.

The Atari company is being brought back in name only, as Infogrames, the French conglomerate that owns a huge piece of the gaming industry is changing its name to Atari. Infogrames can do this because it acquired the rights to the Atari brand when it acquired Hasbro Interactive in 2001, which itself owned the Atari name. Bruno Bonnell, Chairman and CEO of Infogrames/Atari, was the brainiac that originally came up with the Infogrames name, and the disappearance of that name will end almost 20 years of people saying "Huh?" when trying to figure out how to spell and pronounce Infogrames, and what the heck it meant.

The name change comes one week before E3, the Macworld Expo of the gaming industry. Infogrames has been using the Atari name when publishing some of its gaming titles during the past couple of years, including Neverwinter Nights from BioWare, several Unreal titles from Epic, Digital Extremes and Legend, Stuntman from Reflections, and V-Rally from Eden.

Infogrames/Atari chose this moment to announce the change because of the attention garnered at E3, and to help raise awareness for the new "Enter The Matrix" game which is coming out for PlayStation2 , Xbox, GameCube, and Windows. Note the lack of Mac support in the that list. In January of this year, Infogrames sold its MacSoft unit to Destineer, Inc., which is headed by MacSoft founder, as well as former Bungie marketing and publishing chief, Peter Tamte.

You can read the full press release from Atari at the companyis Web site.