Midway Games

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Midway Games
Founded: 1958 (as Midway Manufacturing)
Defunct: still in liquidation as of 2011
Merged with: Time Warner Interactive, Atari Games, Williams Entertainment (1996)
Merged into: Bally (1969)
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, United States

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Midway Games, Inc. was a video game developer and later publisher.

Midway was founded in 1958 as Midway Manufacturing Co. as an independent manufacturer of amusement equipment. In 1969 it was acquired by Bally Manufacturing, which was a dominant force in the slot machine market, however the two continued to run as separate entities in the Bally family.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s Midway produced electro-mechanical arcade machines, but by 1973 the company was beginning to take an interest in the burgeoning video games market. Midway got its big break when it acquired the license to distribute Japanese arcade games from the likes of Namco and Taito in North America, including Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Midway would also produce its own video games, most notably the unauthroised modification to Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man.

Both Bally and Midway were producing pinball tables separately, so in 1982 it was decided to merge the two divisions, creating Bally Midway Manufacturing Co., Inc.. From this point onwards most video games and pinball tables were being credited to "Bally Midway", and the company was producing its own video games in addition to distributing imports.

After the summer of 1983[1] Bally Midway purchased Sega Electronics (formerly Gremlin Industries) for an undisclosed price[2]. The majority of Sega's products at this point were coming from Japan, so Bally Midway became the exclusive distributor of Sega arcade games for a short period, before Sega re-entered the market to represent themselves.

In 1988 the Bally Midway division was purchased by WMS Industries. WMS chose to distinguish the brands once again, with the Bally name used for pinball, and the Midway name used for video games. The purchasing also led to the video game assets of Williams Electronics Games being merged with Midway. Williams, who also produced pinball tables, would effectively absorb the Bally pinball division some years later.

Midway developed and published some of the most successful video games of the 80s before striking gold in the 90s with the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games and NBA Jam series of sports games.

In 1994, WMS would purchase Tradewest and rename it "Williams Entertainment". Then, in 1996, WMS purchased Time Warner Interactive (and Atari Games). Both were subsequently merged into a Midway Games brand - Williams Entertainment became Midway Home Entertainment while Time Warner Interactive became Midway Games West. In 1998 Midway Games split from WMS Industries, becoming its own separate company once again.

Their output started to decline in the 2000s — and their bottom line plummeted, leading to their bankruptcy in 2009. Warner Bros. currently owns most, if not all, of their IP assets (bar some Atari Games assets, now owned by a different Atari Inc.).


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Atari 8-bit family

BBC Micro

Commodore 64

ZX Spectrum