Fergus McGovern

From Sega Retro

Fergus McGovern
Place of birth: London, England, United Kingdom[1][2]
Date of birth: 1965-06[1][2]
Date of death: 2016-02-27[3] (age 50)
Employment history:
Role(s): Executive, Producer, Designer, Tester

Fergus McGovern was a British video game executive and founder of Probe Software, most known for his various contributions to both the British and American game software industries, and for his titular inclusion as a fatality in Mortal Kombat II - the Fergality.


Fergus McGovern was first introduced to the world of home computers at the age of 16, when he was working at British computer distribution company P&P Micros. As the country's home computer market had just begun to take off, the distributor experienced a significant level of success, and McGovern was there to share in that success; he was awarded with both a premium £5,000 IBM PC and an Apple II for his own personal use, something that would truly kickstart his interest in home computers.

Seeing the rising popularity of computer video games, McGovern considered the idea of creating a game publishing label. After discussing the thought with his friend and business partner Vakis Paraskeva, the two eventually founded the Croydon, England-based publisher and distributor Probe Software.

Probe Software

Founded in 1984 primarily as a distributor and publisher, Probe Software began its existence by contracting out the development of computer games (primarily ports of popular arcade games) to smaller development studios. Their first game, the Commodore 16 budget title Alcatraz, did not perform as well in the marketplace as the company had expected, leading McGovern to re-evaluate the company's direction. Soon, Probe switched to developing for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum, when they notably acquired an official license to port many of Sega's flagship franchises to contemporary home computers.

After considerable success in the home computer market through its lucrative licensing contracts, Probe soon found itself as one of the major players in the British video game industry. Soon, it branched out to the home console market, starting with both first-party ports of Sega titles and licensed movie games for the Sega Master System, and eventually found its greatest success in developing home ports of Midway's popular Mortal Kombat series of arcade fighting games. McGovern's personality within the company was so recognizable that a photograph of his face was digitized and included in a number of cameos in the developer's games.

In 1995, McGovern sold Probe Software to American video game developer Acclaim for around $40,000,000, and officially left the company two years later to found HotGen, a British toy manufacturer and game developer specializing in plug-and-play consoles (and notably featuring the same license-centric business model McGovern employed at Probe.)

Later career

Fergus McGovern was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1995 Golden Joystick Awards[4], and later was also awarded the honorary Freedom of the City of London. McGovern additionally served as associate director of the Crystal Palace Football Club, and was an active fundraiser and philanthropist.[4]

On February 26th, 2016, McGovern returned from a transatlantic flight with a cerebral blood clot, and passed away the following day.[5]


The Fergality, from Mortal Kombat II.

Originally created by an artist named Dokk[6] sometime in the early 1990s, the Fergus Head makes a number of cameo appearances in games developed by Probe Software[6], most notably as the Fergality fatality from Mortal Kombat II[7] (in which the losing fighter is transformed into the digitized head of McGovern himself.) Alongside a cameo appearance in the first Mortal Kombat[8], it also appears in both the Master System and Game Gear versions of Daffy Duck in Hollywood[9], and in the Mega Drive games Primal Rage[10] and Jelly Boy.[11]

Production history



Main article: Photos of Fergus McGovern

External links