Atari looking to sell off MMO developer Cryptic Studios

Atari is now looking for a buyer for its MMO game developer Cryptic Studios. The news came as part of Atari's financial results that were revealed in a press release today. According to the press release, Atari is selling off the Los Gatos, California-based developer because it "has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the changing marketplace." The process of selling off the studio is currently "underway" according to the press release and it will reveal more details in the near future. In the financial results today, Atari said it has lost €5.3 million from its Cryptic Studios division in the just completed fiscal year that ended on March 31. It lost €12.6 million in the previous fiscal year.

Founded in 2000, Cryptic Studios' first game was the super hero MMO City of Heroes which was published by NCsoft in 2004. After completing an expansion pack, City of Villains, NCsoft bought the rights to the game from Cryptic in 2007 and continued its development at NCsoft's own studio. Cryptic Studios entered into a deal with Microsoft and Marvel Comics to create a new super hero MMO based on the Marvel Universe characters but that game was cancelled. NCsoft decided to make another super hero MMO, Champions Online, based on the pen-and-paper RPG. In 2008 it also got the rights to make a MMO based on the Star Trek license, Star Trek Online.

In December 2008, Atari announced it had acquired Cryptic Studios and published Champions Online in September 2009 and Star Trek Online in February 2010. In September 2010, Atari and Cryptic decided to switch Champions Online to a free-to-play business model versus its original monthly subscription model. It also announced plans for Neverwinter, a new non-MMO Dungeons and Dragons-based fantasy RPG game. According to a post from Cryptic team member "WishStone" on the Star Trek Online message boards, support for both Champions Online and Star Trek Online will continue "and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate."

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