Atari announced yesterday its sale of MMO developer Cryptic Studios—known for their work on Champions Online and Star Trek Online—to Chinese MMO company Perfect World for €35 million (around $50 million USD), according to Gamasutra and GamesIndustry.biz. The sale was first announced in May of this year, as per Atari’s new business model, which will be more invested in external development of products, along with a larger investiture into casual online and mobile gaming.
“The divestiture of Cryptic is in line with Atari’s continued focus on key owned and third-party strategic franchises and expansion into emerging game platforms,” said Atari CEO Jim Wilson.
Atari is reportedly putting $30.7 million of that sale into their debts, with the remaining $19.1 million going into their push into social and mobile gaming.
Perfect World is known for their work on self-developed titles Battle of the Immortals and the free-to-play MMO Perfect World International. Their acquisition of Cryptic is part of their plan to “further penetrate into the US and global online gaming markets,” according to Michael Chi, CEO of Perfect World.
No information has been given as to the fate of Cryptic’s work on the upcoming MMO Neverwinter or on Star Trek Online.
Analysis: As someone who has played both Champions Online and Star Trek Online, I can say with a decent amount of certainty that Cryptic knows what they’re doing. Of course, what with all the losses going around in the industry, the smaller developers are bound to get shuffled around. Plus, with Champions Online going free-to-play and Star Trek Online rumored to be following close behind, all Cryptic was doing at this point was draining Atari of money. I’ve also played Perfect World International and it’s… far from stellar. So one can hope that, in the long run, both companies can help each other out.
As for Atari, historically, though they were at the forefront of the gaming industry during its infancy, it was still mainly a casual game company. So being able to pay off its debts to focus on its roots, in a manner of speaking, can only bode well for the company, especially with the growing casual market.