Nolan Bushnell: Atari Sale to Warner Bros. Destroyed The Company

'Atari would still be relevant today if that sale hadn't happened.'

Posted By | On 26th, Aug. 2014

Atari 2600

Atari was one of the original pioneers of video games- long before Nintendo ever hit the scene, Atari had already defined a generation with video game hits such as Pong and Breakout. It was an extremely important company, one that ultimately crumbled under its own corporate culture and faded to irrelevance. Notably, it also almost managed to kill the video games industry with it.

Atari still exists today- well, the brand does, but it was split up and bought up so many times, that the brand is really all it shared with the original company. Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, blames the irrelevance of Atari in the modern world, and its fall from grace, on Warner Bros., who acquired the company some time in 1976.

“Atari had an extraordinary corporate culture that was destroyed within two years of the sale,” Bushnell said. “I think that Atari would still be important today if that sale hadn’t occurred.”

He went on to say outright that Atari was destroyed by this sale.

It really was, and it’s not that much of a stretch to assume that Atari might still have been a notable player in modern video gaming if they had stuck around. Their fall, however, marked the end of American dominance on video games, and American video games were not important to the console market until the entry of Microsoft and Xbox, nearly two decades later.

Currently, the modern Atari is working on Roller Coaster Tycoon World and reboots for Alone in the Dark and Haunted House for PC. They have also stated that they are looking at getting back into gaming hardware some time in the future.


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