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Bally, later Bally/Midway, later Midway Games is an American company formerly known for being a major Arcade Game manufacturer, Pinball 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 vending machines. They even operated their own record label for a while in the mid-1950s.

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.

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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 system.

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, Galaga and Pac-Man. 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.

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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, who also had their own video game unit with Defender and Joust under their wing, 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  with Midway taking Williams' video game assets with them and letting go of their own pinball division to Williams.

Unfortunately, the Turn of the Millennium also brought bad business policies. Midway exited the arcade industry in 2001 in an effort to return to profitability, and two years later shut down Midway Games West (formerly Atari Games), effectively killing the last remaining remnant of the original Atari. They also began expensive buyouts of independent game developers to expand their market share. None of these moves helped Midway in any way, and the only way Midway could operate at accelerated losses was through debt offerings that came at the expense of their stock price.

You can imagine how well that went. In November 2008, Midway was expelled from the New York Stock Exchange after their stock price fellow below $1, leaving them flat-out broke. Despite the generally favorable critical and commercial reception towards Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, it wound up being their final in-house title (Wheelman, the last video game Midway had any involvement in, was published in North America by Ubisoft). In February 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 NBA/NHL/MLB/WWE/TNA sports titles- for obvious reasonsnote - and the Cruis'n series of racing gamesnote , 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 due to THQ's own troubles.

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)


Alternative Title(s): Bally, Bally Midway

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