Cryptic Champion Atari

Here’s another of those stories we should have posted about a little earlier, but we were too busy trying on each other’s clothes and saying how nice we looked. In a fair old shocker of a move, Infogrames-In-Disguise announced yesterday that they’d scooped up Cryptic Studios, the MMO outfit behind City of Heroes, Champions Online and Star Trek Online. It was a weird, and possibly kinda sad, thing to hear about a developer who’ve been famously independent – so much so that in parting ways with ncSoft they lost control of the august City of Heroes.

The price of Cryptic was, according to Gamasutra, ” $28 million and up to $20 million in sales-related incentive.” Happily, all 150 of its staff get to keep their jobs.

The big question is what happens to Champions, which was formerly signed up to be published by Take-Two-In-Disguise. Chatting to Ten Ton Hammer, Cryptic head fella Jack Emmert takes the fifth: “I can’t really comment one way or another on that at this point.” Well, boo. I suspect it’s a behind the scenes red tape nightmare, but he does repeatedly mention that Cryptic’s new owners will be stumping up backing for the superheroic MMO. Tragically, he also seems to believe Infogrames-In-Disguise are Actual Atari:

I wanted to be part of the team that made Atari a namesake just like it was for me. I don’t think there’s anyone in the video game industry today that doesn’t look back at their Atari and remember Adventure, remember Pac-man, remember Warlords or Pitfall or any of the other titles. That’s really where most of us got our start.

Erk. How do we break the news to him?

More interestingly, he references Infogrames-In-Disguise’s tight grip on the Dungeons & Dragon license, and how he’d love to make a D&D MMO. D&D Online is still alive to the best of my knowledge, and even saw a new update in November. The fact its US servers have dropped from 14 to 5 since release suggests it’s not doing terribly well, though. Perhaps Cryptic will be tasked with coming up with a new, superior D&D/AD&D game, in much the same way as Bioware are aiming to get the bad taste of Galaxies out of our delicate mouths with The Old Republic. They’ve also got Star Trek, of course, which has the potential to be phenomenonally big deal if the new movie’s a hit – and could well be one of Infogrames-In-Disguise’s main hunger for that sweet Cryptic booty. Beyond that, there’s a mysterious third project, though presumably I-I-D could can it and stick Cryptic on something else if they so desired.

Interesting times. Every publisher wants a big MMO under its belt at the moment, even if the lessons of Conan & Tabula Rasa – and, potentially, WAR. Those servers sure are quiet, huh? – have been particularly hard ones. I do hope Cryptic aren’t too compromised by this. Oh, and Emmert jokes about making a Godzilla MMO in the Ten Ton Hammer interview. Dude – make a Godzilla MMO.


  1. An Innocuous Coin says:

    I’d play a Godzilla MMO, personally.

  2. MacrosPrime says:

    I want planetside2. I played a little planetside1 over the weekend. Made me miss ye good auld days.

  3. Anthony Damiani says:

    $28 million seems a little on the low side, doesn’t it?

  4. Pags says:

    @Damiani: Perhaps if Cryptic were an enormous studio, it might. But with a staff of 150 – which, granted, is rather sizable for an independent-ish dev team – they’re not exactly buying Microsoft.

    But yes, I imagine the purpose of this move was to grab a hold of that sweet, sweet Star Trek license while the movie’s still hot news; do not be surprised if the burners are put under that project to see a release that coincides with the movie (if they aren’t already attempting that).

  5. Xercies says:

    A godzilla MMO would fail, why would you want to play as something that’s not godzilla?

  6. RichP says:

    @Xercies: Just one word: MOTHRA!!!1

    Actually, I’d enjoy playing as a panicked civilian, running from Godzilla and friends. Then again, wouldn’t mind playing as a nameless red shirt in the Star Trek MMO. Screw the “glorious hero who saves the day” business.

  7. Vollgassen says:

    Wikipedia says that Infogrames owns Atari

  8. Ryan says:

    “”Interesting times. Every publisher wants a big MMO under its belt at the moment, even if the lessons of Conan & Tabula Rasa – and, potentially, WAR. Those servers sure are quiet, huh?””

    Actually War Servers are quite alive and well, Fortress RVR happening almost every night. Infact I would say my server has seen an increase in players since 1.06.

    Try not to lump war into the rest of those failures as WAR is far from it.

  9. JZig says:

    @Anthony Damiani: Gamasutra has the price wrong. The correct price is 27.5 million up front cash + 27.5 million after a certain period and with some revenue targets + 20 million bonus on top of that for beating targets. Large upfront cash payments aren’t particularly easy to get these days.

    GA.Biz has the right numbers.

  10. Kommissar Nicko says:

    Godzilla MMO wouldn’t work. The boss-fights would be a little bit one-sided.

    Also, Alec: will Britons understand the phrase, “takes the fifth”? That’s an American thing, in our Miranda rights–I know in England, constables have the right to severely beat a suspect into admitting wrongdoing, and spectral evidence is still admitted in courtrooms, so isn’t this sort of a weird reference to a sweet American justice system no Englishman will ever know?

  11. Garrett says:

    @Vollgassen: That is correct, but Alec’s point was that the Atari we see today is not the Atari of the ’70s and ’80s. According to Wikipedia the present-day Atari is actually GT Interactive, which Infogrames acquired and renamed to Infogrames, Inc., and later to Atari, Inc. when they acquired the Atari name.

  12. shon says:

    A Godzilla MMO would require you to hunt 10 Small Tanks as your first quest.

    I started off writing that meaning for it to be a joke, but even that sounds pretty neat.

  13. Stew says:

    Jack Emmert would engineer any Godzilla MMO so three rookie human soldiers would be a real challenge for any giant lizard.

  14. Rei Onryou says:

    Here’s another of those stories we should have posted about a little earlier, but we were too busy trying on each other’s clothes and saying how nice we looked.

    So who dressed as Kieron and for the love of god, why??? This is the real news.

    I suppose the loss of CoH isn’t anything for Cryptic to really worry about. If NCSoft screw it up, they can say “it was great while we were there, now if you want a decent superhero MMO, you’ll come back to us”. Just look at the Sports Interactive/Football Manager set up. Furthermore, it just gives them more people power to focus on CO.

    Hopefully I-I-D will just give them lots of money and stay the hell away from decision making. Let them get CO and STO out the door, then fix up a new DDO, perhaps some sort of Planetside-esque FPSMMO and then, give us the Godzilla MMO!

  15. AbyssUK says:

    A Godzilla MMO would rock..

  16. Malagate says:

    A godzilla MMO? I could see it working if it was like Shadow of the Colossus but with team work, but I can hardly fathom how it’d work from the monster perspective apart from as a death match game.
    Really, it would be genius as an online FPS like Left 4 Dead but with the situation reversed, with the players controlling the large number of individually ineffective units against a single/small number of unit(s) that is/are very powerful. Also like that Hidden: source mod, where one player takes control of a monster to fight all the human players, except their aim is to destroy as much of the city as possible. Now that would be awesome.

  17. Dizet Sma says:

    @ Kommissar Nicko:

    We UKians have seen enough USian cop shows to get the ‘taking the fifth’ reference, I’m sure.

  18. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i’d only play the godzilla mmo if i was godzilla and it was my job to stop on all the other players and then at some point mothra would apear and the fight would be on!

  19. Thomson says:

    Godzilla MMO? Once there was Mail Order Monsters. I would love if it would be revived :D

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