Bally, later Bally/Midway, later Midway Games is an American company formerly known for being a major Arcade Game
creator, and Video Game
publisher and developer.
The company was first founded in 1932 by Raymond Moloney as a subsidiary of Lion Manufacturing. The runaway success of Gottlieb
's Baffle Ball
prompted Lion to get into the business,
and Bally Manufacturing Corporation was named after their first "pin game", Ballyhoo
. The company had success in making arcade games, slot machines, pinballs, and even vending machines.
Founded in 1958, Midway Manufacturing Co. began as a manufacturer of amusement equipment
, such as pinball machines
, shooting games, and puck games. Bally, meanwhile, dominated the industry in the Fifties and Sixties; by the end of the decade, after cornering the worldwide slot machine market, Bally became a publicly traded company and acquired Midway Manufacturing in 1969.
As Bally/Midway, the company continued to prosper in slot machines, mechanical arcade games, and pinballs. Through the Seventies, they formed a close alliance with Taito, and the two companies regularly licensed their games to each other. Bally/Midway also released the Bally Astrocade in 1977, an early home Video Game
Bally/Midway's big Video Game
success came in 1978 with the popularity of Space Invaders
; they followed that up by successfully distributing many of Namco
's arcade games, such as Galaxian
. Their biggest coup was taking a Pac-Man
clone named Crazy Otto
and giving it a graphical conversion to create Ms. Pac-Man
. For nearly a decade, Bally/Midway was the leading producer of arcade video games in the United States. They were also the second-most prolific producer of pinball machines, surpassed only by Williams Electronics
The success of Ms. Pac-Man
, which Bally/Midway had released while waiting for Namco to finish its official sequel Super Pac-Man
, led Namco to add Ms. Pac-Man
to their line-up of official Pac-Man
games. Bally/Midway would take advantage of that success by creating more of their own Pac-Man
sequels without seeking Namco's approval or input, none of which enjoyed the success of Ms. Pac-Man
. This led to Namco ending their relationship with Bally/Midway and working with Atari Games
and later establishing their own brand presence in the North American market.
With the decline of arcade gaming in the mid-80s, the company was acquired by Williams Electronics
in 1988. For a decade, Williams/Bally/Midway continued to manufacture pinball machines under the Williams and Bally labels, reserving the Midway brand for video games. In 1998, Williams' success in lottery and slot machines eventually prompted them to spin off the video game division as Midway Games.note
Unfortunately, the Turn of the Millennium
also brought bad business policies, and in 2009 Midway Games filed for bankruptcy. Their studios in Chicago
, Seattle and San Diego were the only three not to get shut down. The former two, along with most of the Midway back catalog (save for the licensed sports titles- for obvious reasons- and the Cruis'n
trilogy of racing games, which is owned by Nintendo
), were bought by Warner Bros.
, with the Chicago studio rebranded as Netherrealm Studios
and the Seattle studio merged into Monolith Productions
, both in 2010. The San Diego studio was purchased by THQ
and rebranded THQ Digital Studio San Diego. The studio ultimately closed down in 2011.
Midway is best remembered for two types of games: Fighting games which used arcades' more advanced hardware to make brutal fighters like Mortal Kombat
, and in-your-face arcade-style sports games like NBA Jam
and NFL Blitz
. Up until the mid-90's, they avoided the home market, instead letting Acclaim or WMS port and publish them. They began to release their games on consoles and eventually left the arcades for good in 2001.
Midway can also be considered the final incarnation of the original Atari, as they owned what became of their old arcade games division (Atari Games).
Some of the pinball machines manufactured by Bally (pre-Williams acquisition):
Some of the video games developed or distributed by Bally/Midway (pre-1988)
Video games licensed, developed or published by Midway (post-1988)