May 29, 2003 12:27 PM PDT

3DO files for bankruptcy

Troubled video game publisher 3DO announced Wednesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition.

CEO Trip Hawkins said in the statement that Chapter 11 status would give the Redwood City, Calif., company time to find a buyer without interrupting business operations.

"While we hope that this news will generate additional new opportunities, at this point we are focused on pursuing either the sale of the entire company or the sale of its assets," Hawkins said.

3DO announced earlier this month that it planned to look for potential buyers and would have to lay off a third of its already-reduced work force, after quarterly sales came in well below forecasts.

While other publishers have profited handsomely from the ongoing boom in the video game market, 3DO has largely lingered on the sidelines. The popularity of the company's "Army Men" franchise of children's games has waned recently, and other 3DO titles have failed to catch on in an increasingly crowded market.

Hawkins was one of the founders of Electronic Arts, which went on to become the leading independent game publisher. His fortunes wavered, however, when he split from the company to form 3DO, which made an ill-fated venture into the hardware business in the early 1990s. The company licensed the design for the 3DO console to other manufacturers. While technically advanced, 3DO consoles never caught on with the mass market, partly due to their $700 price tag, which was well above systems from competitors Nintendo and Sega.

3DO has since struggled as a software-only company, going through several rounds of layoffs, an 8-for-1 reverse stock split and other life-saving measures in recent years. Company shares were down 87 cents, or 65 percent, to 46 cents in late trading Thursday.

 

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