From Sega Retro
|Merged with: Virgin Games (1988)|
|Merged into: Sega Europe (1991)|
|Headquarters: United Kingdom|
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Mastertronic was a video game publisher and distributor active in the 1980s, specialising in low-cost software for home computers in the United Kingdom.
The company was given the rights to distribute the Sega Master System in the UK in 1987, a move which saw the Master System gain huge popularity in the country during the late 1980s, out-selling Nintendo and their NES system and becoming the first truly successful market for the console. They would later distribute the Sega Mega Drive and Sega Game Gear also.
Mastertronic acquired Melbourne House, parent company of Beam Software in 1988, leaving the company with severe cashflow problems. As a result, the Virgin Group stepped in, buying a 45% stake in the company. A series of deals saw the Mastertronic renamed "Mastertronic Group Ltd.", though it eventually merged with Virgin Games, becoming Virgin Mastertronic. With Virgin at its side, Mastertronic would also take over Sega distribution in France and Germany.
In the following years, Mastertronic's traditional budget software strategy for home computers was phased out in favour of bigger releases for video game consoles. By 1991 the Mastertronic side of the company owed the vast majority of its profit to its distribution of Sega products, and Sega stepped in to purchase Mastertronic outright. Virgin Games went its separate ways, becoming Virgin Interactive in 1994, while Mastertronic formed the basis for Sega Europe.
Nowadays the Mastertronic name is used by a new, separate company focused on publishing games for modern consoles in the UK.