CHICAGO - Midway Games officially exited the coin-operated games market, spelling the end for the company once synonymous with the arcade industry. The announcement was made on June 22.
Following the move, the remaining 60 employees in the coin-op division were let go, completing the company's year-long withdrawal from the market.
A year ago, Midway laid off 75 employees in its consumer and coin-op divisions. One of the hardest hit departments was coin-op sales and marketing, and included execs Damon Paramore, Roger Sharpe and Tom Keil. In March, Midway reduced its coin-op video game workforce by approximately 60 employees, effectively ending its involvement with coin-op arcade games.
Despite the arcade-related layoffs earlier this year, the company continually reiterated that it would remain in coin-op through the "Midway Tournament Network" (MTN) and the "Touchmaster Infinity" countertop line. During the Amusement Showcase International trade show in April, Midway officials detailed plans to launch MTN in July (see V/T April), even reporting impressive results in test locations in the Chicago area.
This month's announcement indicates that Midway will terminate its MTN and the "Infinity" products. The company said it will focus its efforts on making games for next-generation , Sony's "PlayStation 2," Microsoft's "Xbox" and Nintendo's "GameCube."
Although the move was expected, especially considering its decision to stop making arcade games in March, it still comes as a surprise to the industry that Midway's run as a coin-op giant is over.
The company, through its various subsidiaries and former parent WMS Industries, has been a leader in the industry since the dawn of the video game revolution. Its early breakthrough hits included "Defender" and "Spy Hunter."
Midway also was the first American company to license Japanese games, most notably Namco's "Pac-Man," and movie content, beginning with Disney's "Tron."
In the mid-1990s, Midway continued to dominate the arcade industry with blockbuster games "Mortal Kombat," "Cruis'n" and "Hydro Thunder" along with the "NFL Blitz" and the "NBA Jam" video sports line. Sales of the "Mortal Kombat" fighting series, consisting of four arcade editions, topped 80,000 worldwide. Sales of "NBA Jam" and NBA Jam Tournament Edition" exceeded 40,000. A fifth coin-op "Mortal Kombat" was planned, but will now only be available for consumer platforms.