The original Midway Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1958, and was acquired in 1969 by amusement industry giant Bally, an important maker of Pinball machines since 1932. When Atari, Inc., less than a year old, offered to have Bally manufacture and market its coin-operated video game Pong, Bally declined the offer. Bally Midway did get to share in on Pong's success by having Midway produce Winner, a licensed Pong clone and its first Arcade Game. Midway would go from there to become a major Atari competitor and one of the best-known names in the video game industry.
Midway owed its success in arcades in large part to acquiring the U.S. distribution rights to Space Invaders and many of Namco's games between 1979 and 1983, such as Galaxian, Galaga and Pac-Man. Perhaps Midway's biggest coup was taking a Pac-Man clone named Crazy Otto and giving it a graphical conversion to create Ms. Pac-Man. Midway's Ms. Pac-Man & Galaga: Class of 1981 arcade machine became one of the most commonly found machines in North America.
In 1988, Bally sold its video game and pinball operations, along with the Midway name, to WMS Industries, another pinball manufacturer who as Williams Electronics had entered the video game industry in 1980.
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 eventually left the arcades for good in 2001. Midway can also be considered the final incarnation of the original Atari, as they owned the last of it, which was shut down in 2003.
Unfortunately, the Turn of the Millennium also brought bad business policies, and in 2009 the company filed for bankruptcy. Their studios in Chicago, Seattle and San Diego were the only three not to get shut down. The former, 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), was bought by Warner Bros and the Chicago studio is now called Netherrealm Studios, which just released Mortal Kombat 9, and the latter was sold to THQ, where they just released WWE All-Stars. The Seattle studio, aka Surreal Software, also joined up with Warner Bros, but it got shut down about a year later. How Netherrealm Studios will continue the legacy of Midway remains to be seen, although Mortal Kombat 9 is getting positive reviews.
Games developed by Bally Midway (pre-1988)
Games published by Williams Electronics (pre-1988):
Games licensed, developed or published by Midway (post-1988)
- Blitz: The League
- NFL Blitz
- Freaky Flyers
- Gauntlet (1985 video game)
- Hydro Thunder
- Killer Instinct
- Mace the Dark Age
- Mortal Kombat series
- NBA Jam
- Revolution X
- San Francisco Rush
- The Suffering
- TNA Impact
- Total Carnage
- Unreal Championship 2 The Liandri Conflict