Saturday, August 25, 2018

Gaming Ads: Midway

Chicago-based Midway Manufacturing built amusement games, such as Skee-ball and air gun types of games, as early as the late '50s. In 1969 it was acquired by pinball specialists Bally Manufacturing and in the early '70s began to develop video games for arcades with assistance from Dave Nutting Associates. Midway designed one of the early video game consoles as well, the Bally Professional Arcade, better known as Bally Astrocade, released in 1977. The company also distributed popular Japanese arcade games in North America, such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Bally merged its business with Midway in 1982 to form Bally Midway Manufacturing, the company that would release arcade hits like Wizard of Wor, Gorf, Spy Hunter, Rampage, and a couple games based on the Tron movie.

Bally Midway was purchased by Williams Electronics (Defender, Joust, Robotron) in 1988 at which time the Bally pinball portion of the company was absorbed by Williams and Midway Games was born. During the '90s Midway had great success in games like Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, and NFL Blitz. The home versions of its arcade games were often published by Acclaim or Williams Entertainment, a subsidiary of WMS Industries (parent company of Williams Electornics), which was renamed to Midway Home Entertainment in 1996. Following a very profitable decade, Midway began purchasing other development studios as it expanded its home video game business.

Unfortunately, Midway started falling on hard times shortly after its rapid expansion. I'll spare you all of the financial dealings that occurred between 2005-08 and jump to 2009 at which time the long time game maker filed for bankruptcy. Warner Bros. purchased most of Midway's assets and THQ took over Midway's San Diego studio. The remaining Midway branches were sold off throughout the year and its headquarters were shut down with most employees being laid off. Midway's Chicago development studio was part of the Warner Bros. acquisition and is today known as NetherRealm Studios. NetherRealm continues to develop games in the Mortal Kombat series plus Injustice, a 2D fighting game that features DC Comics characters.

Midway is one of the more difficult companies to try and summarize as it has had a variety of names. I'm including all versions of Midway here, though you can find other ads based on Midway's properties in the Acclaim ads album and there will be a few more when I get to Williams Entertainment.

Flickr album: Midway

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