Saturday, August 18, 2018

Gaming Ads: Microsoft and MidNite Entertainment Group

Microsoft was founded in 1975 (as Micro-Soft) by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The company moved from New Mexico to Bellevue, Washington in 1979 and was incorporated in 1981. It was also in 1981 that IBM released the first personal computer that used PC DOS as the operating system. PC DOS was IBM's name for MS-DOS, which was the operating system (OS) Microsoft purchased from Seattle Computer Products. Of course, today everyone knows Microsoft for its Windows operating system which was first introduced in 1985, though it wasn't really until Windows 3.0 released in 1990 that the OS started to become a household name.

As far as gaming, Microsoft released a text-based adventure in 1979 aptly titled Microsoft Adventure. Its second game was Microsoft Decathlon, 1981's release of PC DOS included a racing title, and 1982 saw the first release in the long running Microsoft Flight Simulator series that was developed by subLogic. Microsoft released a variety of software products over the years with its most popular products arguably being Microsoft Solitaire and Minesweeper which were often installed on computers with the Windows OS. Some its flagship releases of the '90s include Microsoft Golf (1992) from Access Software (Links), Terminal Reality's Monster Truck Madness (1996), Ensemble Studios' Age of Empires (1997), Rainbow Studios' Motocross Madness (1998), Angel Studios' Midtown Madness (1999), and the MMO Asheron's Call (1999) from Turbine Entertainment.

Along with games, Microsoft also released numerous PC gaming controllers with its line of SideWinder products that ran from 1995 to 2003. Aside from having its OS Windows CE inside the Sega Dreamcast, Microsoft wasn't too involved with console gaming until November 15, 2001 when its own game console Xbox hit store shelves. The Xbox was the first console with a built-in hard drive and an Ethernet port. Some of the console exclusive games for the Xbox include Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Crimson Skies, Fable, Forza Motorsport, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Shenmue II, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Jet Set Radio Future. Perhaps the most significant contribution the original Xbox made to games was its online service Xbox Live that began in 2002 and was the prime example for competitors to mimic in future generations.

As Microsoft's first console and the only one on the market made by an American company, the Xbox faced tough competition from Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube but it got an early jump in the next console generation by being first to the market with the Xbox 360 in 2005. The success of the 360 solidified Microsoft as a major player in console gaming, though it did stumble in launching its third system the Xbox One. Although much more can be said about Microsoft, I think this is a good overview and I'm going to wrap it up here. I don't have too many Microsoft ads since I focus on pre-2000 which obviously pre-dates the Xbox. That's why I've added a second company to this post, though for that one I only have two similar ads for the same game.

There is not much information available for MidNite Entertainment Group, a Chicago-based developer responsible for the Atari Jaguar game AirCars, a vehicle shooter with multiplayer support for up to eight players. Originally known as Car Wars, AirCars was planned for a 1994 release but it didn't actually became available until 1997, the year after the Jaguar was discontinued. Publisher ICD made only 300 copies available making it a rather rare video game. A 1995 version of the game titled KA AirCars was also released in limited numbers from Beta Phase Games in 2015 and 2016. Although the game was published by two other companies, I'm placing the ads with MidNite since it's responsible for the ads as it was intending to publish the game itself.

Flickr album: Microsoft
Flickr album: MidNite Entertainment Group

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