Founded in 1958, Midway Games only transitioned into video games in 1973, after manufacturing amusement equipment such as mechanical arcade games. Midway has developed and published some of the most successful arcade and home console games ever made, including the Mortal Kombat series, Ms. Pac-Man and Space Invaders. However, the company began to experience net losses and eventually filed for bankruptcy in February 2009. In July 2009 Midway’s assets were purchased by Warner Brothers, who retained the Mortal Kombat studio in which would become NetherRealm Studios in June 2010.
Midway Manufacturing was one of the earliest American video game developers, though it initially kept to the arcade market. This, and its early success, was facilitated by a strong link with Taito that lasted throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, leading to the distribution rights for Taito games. Midway began branching into the home market with its one and only attempt at developing a home system in the form of the Bally Astrocade, named after the company that purchased Midway in 1969.
The real breakthrough success that had somewhat alluded Midway finally came in the form of the distribution of Space Invaders, followed closely by Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. Midway became the foremost arcade developer in the US, putting out titles such as Defender, NBA Jam and Spy Hunter. After years of developing under first the Bally name and, later on, the Williams name, Midway adsorbed the Williams video game division and started working under their own name again.
In 1992, Midway put out a quickly developed arcade fighter, intended to serve as a competitor to Street Fighter II. Mortal Kombat would go on to define the company, and become one of the most popular arcade and home console games created. Mortal Kombat was a breakthrough in Midway’s home console strategy, and the success of the sequels established it as a premier Midway franchise.
In 1996, for the first time since 1968, Midway became an independent company again. Over this period, Midway began cutting ties with its previous form, and terminated its part in the pinball industry. Midway also cut its arcade manufacture, citing financial losses year over year. Over the next eight years Midway began buying up a number of existing third party developers, hoping to expand and solidify its development abilities. It was here that Midway began experiencing the financial problems that would lead them to bankruptcy. Between 2004 and 2007, Midway began experiencing net losses each year but continued on until February 12, 2009, when it filed for bankruptcy.
Midway’s assets were purchased on July 1, 2009 by Warner Bros. Both the Chicago and Seattle development teams are now part of Warner Bros.