Tag Archives | Midway

Midway To Be Snapped Up By Warner Bros.

A bankruptcy court judge in Delaware has allowed Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to buy Midway Games, which filed for bankruptcy in February.

Warner Bros. will pay $33 million to acquire the ailing company, Gamespot reports. Popular Midway assets, such as Mortal Kombat, will change hands to Warner Bros. The sale technically still needs to be closed, but with the judge waiving a 10-day waiting provision, the deal is essentially sealed.

Not all of Midway’s property is likely to be spared. Studios in Newcastle and San Diego weren’t included in the acquisition, leaving just 60 days for them to find another buyer, Joystiq reports.

I suppose I’m interested to see what Warner Bros. can do with this seemingly cursed property. Midway hadn’t turned an annual operating profit since 1999, according to a thorough Gamasutra story on the company, and just before the bankruptcy it had a debt of $150 million.

As I said back in February, Midway has for a long time seemed like a company starved for ideas. It’s best remembered for arcade classics, such as NBA Jam and Ms. Pac-Man rather than console blockbusters. Amazingly, there is a ninth Mortal Kombat in the works, and I imagine it’ll at least be profitable development, albeit a stale one. So maybe the deal makes sense from a business perspective, but as a gamer this is a sad end for a once-great gaming company.

One comment

Midway Files for Bankruptcy

mortalkombatlogoThis is no surprise, seeing as the company was looking at $150 million in debt last December with just 50 days to pay it, but today Midway Games filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Chairman, President and CEO Matt Booty called the filing “a difficult but necessary decision,” adding that it buys the company time to figure out how to proceed from here. For now, business continues as usual, and Midway has filed several First Day Motions in hopes of keeping it that way as restructuring takes place.

But enough of that business talk. As various publications covered the news today, they unwittingly pointed out the publisher’s biggest flaw. “Midway Games Inc., the creator of the Mortal Kombat video-game series … ,” wrote the L.A. Times. “Midway, famous for its ‘Mortal Kombat’ franchise … ,” Reuters noted. “The long-struggling publisher of Mortal Kombat filed for bankruptcy this morning,” Kotaku wrote.

See the pattern? Now, try to think of another major publisher whose entire existence is defined by one franchise. EA’s got Madden, but it also has The Sims and Spore. Activision has Call of Duty, Guitar Hero and — after becoming Activision-Blizzard — World of Warcraft. Ubisoft has several successful franchises under the Tom Clancy umbrella.

You could argue that Take-Two will be remembered most for Grand Theft Auto, but that just proves my point. GTA seems to reinvent itself as something new and exciting with each generation, but Mortal Kombat is no longer revolutionary. Cartoonish blood and gore, once a novel concept, is old hat now. Without that trick up its sleeve, the franchise became a follower of better button-mashers like Soul Calibur, Tekken and Virtua Fighter. To be fair, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is doing well, but that idea is more of a gimmick than a long-term cash cow.

The sad thing is, Midway was once a glorious game publisher. It put out Space Invaders and Ms. Pac-Man, for goodness sakes. And who could forget NBA Jam?

Apparently, everybody. I could go on about why those games aren’t viable anymore, but the point is that Midway has done little to stay relevant. While other companies have figured out how to milk their best franchises through the years, Midway seems like it never grew out of the arcade era.