Midway mulling Mortal Kombat sale

Chicago-based publisher's employee-incentive plan lists selling off flagship fighting IP as "milestone"; reps downplay option as "just one possible scenario."


Already beleaguered by a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing stemming from $240 million in debt, Midway Games workers got no rest over the weekend. That's when a February 25 post on the bankruptcy blog NetDockets.com received wide attention for listing three milestones of the Chicago-based publisher's KEIP--key employee incentive plan--to retain 29 workers.

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The three milestones, which were authenticated to GameSpot by Midway reps, begin with a $497,500 KEIP bonus for "Entry into a publishing/distribution agreement for Midway's new 'Wheelman' game performance by Midway entitling it to gross proceeds of $6 million under the agreement by March 1, 2009, and actual receipt of those proceeds." The company sealed exactly such a deal last month with Ubisoft, which will distribute and market the Wheelman in North America on March 24 and Europe on March 27.

The next milestone can be reached by one of two ways: Either "submission by Midway of a plan of reorganization to continue as a going concern" or "execution of an asset-purchase agreement for the sale of Midway's Mortal Kombat franchise assets." The third milestone will be similarly achieved by either "confirmation of a plan of reorganization or liquidation" or "closing of a sale of Midway's Mortal Kombat franchise assets." The two milestones will pay out collective bonuses of $1,292,500 and $1,965,000, respectively.

Given the use of the term "bonus" and current anti-executive-payout furor gripping the nation, many gamers saw the move as Midway executives lining their pockets by auctioning off a beloved franchise. Representatives for the company were adamant that this was not the case.

"The 29 employees do include some corporate officers, but there are other employees from all levels and all departments-including finance, IT, legal, marketing--from all over the place." a rep told GameSpot. "These are all people whose workloads have increased since the bankruptcy, and this is to incentivize them."

The rep also confirmed that two separate KEIP plans were submitted to retain Midway's remaining game developers and the Mortal Kombat design team in particular. Both groups were hit by layoffs last December, when Midway culled 25 percent of its workforce.

As for the sale of the Mortal Kombat intellectual property, the Midway rep said that it was one of several scenarios laid out as part of a plan to submit to the company's creditors under the rules of US bankruptcy law.

"That document is not intended to reflect any plan of record for the company," he said. "It's to ask the creditors committee to approve a KEIP plan. ... It's intended to cover all the bases if there's the possibility of an asset sale. Either a [Mortal Kombat] sale or reorganization contingency would be considered success metrics for hitting those milestones."

The Midway rep also stressed that the KEIP plan is "just a first draft" and could go through several revisions before being approved. He also said that the company's board wants "very much" to keep the company together, and "keep what makes Midway at Midway." Finally, he added, "It's management's responsibility to get the maximum value for the assets of the company. ... But it's our goal to keep the company together as a whole rather than sell it off piece by piece, because there's greater value there."

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Avatar image for Neravir

Not good...what about Psi-Ops's sequel?..and MK...*sigh*if only Tobias returned...

Avatar image for pilot_riaz

Capcom make brilliant fighting games and are very experienced in this field. EA best known for sports games, would you see Mortal Kombat improve by EA? Certainly not!

Avatar image for pilot_riaz

Why does Capcom not buy Mortal Kombat franchise? They would make thehe game so much better.

Avatar image for tizzomr

They need to bring back old school NBA JAM 2 on 2 like hangtime, with new players, and put it on the arcade. Or sell the rights to somebody who already has a license. I KNOw it would sell like hot cakes, and would buy it myself the first day it came out. don't let EA have it though they'll hustle like with that NHL game, which BTW you should read reviews of before you buy.

Avatar image for roflmuffins8

Capcom doesn't need another fighting series. They already have Street Fighter as it is. Dang economy, it had to turn a great franchise into a fatality. :(

Avatar image for -Dark_Palladin-

@ NolifeGamin Absoulutly not. I absoulutly hate Crapcom, and I would die if it even tried to ruin Mortal Kombat. (See my reviews for more info)

Avatar image for steveguttenberg

Capcom should buy Mortal Kombat. Imagine Mortal Kombat in the hands of competent developers... Oh, also Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter.

Avatar image for SmashingX

well i thought it was over when they decided to make MK vs DC =)

Avatar image for Downloadpilot

Dang :(

Avatar image for eddievh_5150

I agree with crazy_guns. That would be orgasmic.

Avatar image for Crazy_Guns

@vengeance00 I agree, I still play UMK3 online on Xbox Live Arcade on a *very* regular basis, it's loads of fun and I still get more enjoyment out of playing it than I do some of my newer games, even though it's like 13 years old. It was a great game and I think Mortal Kombat was in its prime in the 2D format and started to lose some of its heart and soul when it transitioned to 3D, not to say it became bad but it just didn't feel the same. All my humble opinion of course, but that's how I feel as well. I think it would be great if they could release a "Mortal Kombat: Komplete Kollection" or something like that before they throw it all away. Include every MK game ever made on a disc optimized to run on modern consoles (like UMK3 on XBLA) and add online play. I'd buy it and I'm sure a lot of people would. Just make sure they're all arcade versions and not home versions, the arcade ones were better (at least in the 2D era). This may be an unrealistic thing to ask for at this point but it'd be one heck of a going away gift and it's nice to dream. MK is still my favorite fighting series.

Avatar image for spartant15

Dang. Midway needs a franchise other then Mortal Kombat.

Avatar image for KoruKinshi

That is a damn shame...

Avatar image for vengeance00

what people in the industry seem to not understand is when you build a game you build for either 2d or 3d. like mortal kombat, sonic the hedgehog went down the toilet when he stepped into 3d and if a game like say tekken went into 2d it would most likely suck. games developers should keep games in their 'birth place' and not rush them into 3d because everyone else is doing it.

Avatar image for lamprey263

I personally would have liked to have seen a Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter game years back, maybe Capcom would like to buy the IP, I think they could do something interesting with it.

Avatar image for batsy4life

I wonder who's next?

Avatar image for raghraghragh

If they got rid of Mortal Kombat, honestly, what else do Midway have? Not a whole bloody lot, that's what.

Avatar image for tawagivercetti

I don't care about MK, whats happening to the rights to NBA JAM ? I'd buy them and release NBA JAM on xbox live arcade/psn with all new players similar to NHL 3on3!

Avatar image for giort08

I personally am glad that Midway is going down the toilet. I do feel for all those underlings that have been royally screwed over, I really do, but Midway has had this coming. And after reading this travesty, it couldn't happen any faster.

Avatar image for IsmirZone

I rather Ed Bood to kill Mortal Kombat project entirely then any other developer getting their hands on it.

Avatar image for IsmirZone

If and whoever gets their hands on Mortal Kombat. It will no longer be Mortal Kombat as we knew it. It will be a game that uses the Mortal Kombat brand to sell. See what happened with RARE.

Avatar image for simonsworld

hmm, maybe it just had its time in the light,time to move on etc

Avatar image for NoLifeGamin

you know...it would be AWESOME if Capcom bought Mortal Kombat then we would have SF vs MK!!! but...then the MK characters would play more like SF characters =.= but at least it would be less crappy then it would've been with Midway

Avatar image for wizo59mt

I also would like to add a arcade emulation of there gauntlet game i played would be a good downloadable content. I remember i spent like 20 bucks just trying to beat that arcade game. it rocked. i think i bought the PS2 incarnation of it called gauntlet Dark legacy. I mean get real making gauntlet 1 and 2 downloadable was smart but the game wasnt released right cause it sucked, no one else bought it or online play. Release Gauntlet again some how dammit.

Avatar image for wizo59mt

midway take the time to listen to your fans instead of driving yourselves on the dirt, at the expenses of developing wheelman....boring and unoriginal. Rerelease the MK series including subzero and shaolin monks and whatever side branches of the series and put it on a compilation disc. Include Sega CD version and sega 32x as well. Stop being weak. your demise is your own fault and im tired of wishing dumb companies would listen to there fans cause they never will and drowned themselves. Midway is yet anothwer perfect example of poor leadership. Sega is close to messing themselves up too. But i must admit Sonics Ultimate Genesis Collection is kick butt marketing of retro titles and probably made them a pretty pennie.

Avatar image for jcouch2020

midway, make a retro collection.....all you have to do is emulate it to run on 360, ps3, or wii, i would be inexpensive and make you some quick cash. you guys got some great games from the past.....duh!!!

Avatar image for IsmirZone

Midway needs some new 2D technology, something like the new King of Fighters series will have.

Avatar image for tonicmole

I'll buy the Mortal Kombat franchise, right here, right now for $35.57 CASH! (and some change)

Avatar image for Sw0rDMaN

dont care

Avatar image for Sk8ter_213

not a fan of mortal kombat

Avatar image for Zigen591

Violence sells.. I don't how you put it, people like violence and blood. MK is what put Midway on the map. They need to come up with a original concept using the latest technology. Don't beat MK up and come out with 1,000 series and expect to grow sales....

Avatar image for Maddaus

Yeah and lets make a Tekken vs. Toshinden while were at it. MK is best as a Microsoft Live Arcade bargain bin. I personally want MK 2 HD.

Avatar image for MrRaziel11

I always felt that Ultimate Mortal Kombat was the greatest from the series.....although the fighters were somewhat unbalanced....(noob) I firmly believed that they should go back to their ROOTS on their upcoming game....whoever makes it

Avatar image for letario

go back to the classics like how street fighter 4 did!!!!!!!! only make it a little faster with the Hits and the combos and make sure blood comes with you get hit NOT SPIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And make sure the Finishing moves are bloody and the brutalities are sicker then the first and I BET YOU WILL SELL OUT!

Avatar image for jesse89202

Ed boon killed his own creation. It was all good til Trilogy... why didn't he make his last game a classic engine? How sick would that be? *sigh* RIP Midway

Avatar image for JackHoleFace00

Am I the only one who thinks MK is played out? I think MK vs. DC sold somewhat well, but MK is FAR from the phenomenon it was in the 90s. Just seems they're milking it as much as possible now. The problem with Midway is just that--the only major license they are known for is MK. They need to take some chances and try to find a fresh NEW bonified hit/license/etc. Yes, easier said than done, but it seems like they got little else to lose at this point anyway.

Avatar image for parhar67

they shoulda brought back the nba jam series.....and if they couldnt get the licesne just use fake names....like "Shack" or "Koby" or "Jamez" lol if pro evoloution soccer can use fake names why cant midway!!! @ XxSubZeroAK47xX I agree man mortal kombat games started to suck when they brought them on the ps2 with those mulitiple fighting styles....Shaolin monks was pretty sweet though

Avatar image for brendanhunt1

go back to the classics

Avatar image for insanitycheck3

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for Proman84

"Mortal Kombat" is by far the strongest asset Midway has so selling it off may spell all kinds of"-alities" for the company. I really hope they find a better way to keep the company going.

Avatar image for XxSubZeroAK47xX

Ed Boon You Messed Up Big Time!! Do You See Know What Happens When You Try To Cut Back On The Violence In A Mortal Kombat Game. Have You Ever Heard The Line That Goes Something Like This "If It Ain't Broken, Don't Fix It". I Mean Come Ed Every Time You Make A New Mortal Kombat You Change It For The Worst. And This Time You Took Out Something That Made Everyone Love Mortal Kombat From The Begin, You Took Out The Violence And Made The Fatalities For 5 Year Old Kids.And You Ask Yourself "Why Are We Getting Bankrupt",And Here's Your Answer "You Took A Game That Made Midway Who It Is And Messed It All Up Because You Were Scared To Get Sued By A Care Less Mom Who Bought Little Jimmy A M Game For His His 6-Year Old Birthday" And Look At What Happed Now You Lost All Your Money And 17-Years Of Hard Work. Good Job Ed Boon You Single Handedly Killed Midway And Mortal Kombat. R.I.P Midway R.I.P Mortal Kombat

Avatar image for FidelSarcastro

I have to agree, in my opinion MK II was the best mortal kombat game. After that one they started adding too many characters which led to some characters being unbalanced then they changed the formula by going 3D and from there it was all downhill.

Avatar image for Aurey

Well, if Capcom, Tecmo, Namco or Sega were to buy Mortal Kombat I guess we all could expect a nice fighting game. The last MK I liked was MKII. all the other games in the franchise were not as good in my opinion.

Avatar image for IsmirZone

If anything should be done is everything to keep MK at Midway. Suggestions of Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter are stupid. This is how games go bad. Stop daydreaming. Capcom vs. SNK and Marvel vs. Capcom fits in just that its so does not mean it will be the same for every vs. game. As I said this is how games go bad. One idea that works and all developers start using it and we get mediocre games that are basically the same. I am more for a sequel then a side game with a stupid sub title.

Avatar image for FidelSarcastro

"NO MK vs Street Fighter.... whats wrong with you guys.... cartoony people vs the more realistic looking characters from MK" As I have said earlier, how can one be against MK vs SF cause of it being "Cartoony" when MK's last endeavor was against characters from a comic book universe... comic books (also called graphic novels by nerds who also call toys Limited Edition Figurines) are Cartoons in print form.

Avatar image for Mudvayne84

NO MK vs Street Fighter.... whats wrong with you guys.... cartoony people vs the more realistic looking characters from MK?! Gimme a break... You have a japanese made fighting game mixing with an American made one. They're both good games but very different. Wouldn't work at all. Killer Instinct vs MK would be awesome

Avatar image for Master_Saibot

Capcom needs to buy it and make Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat.

Avatar image for maruxxxx

MK should stay alive ... but they need to go back at the roots...at the simplicity and finess of the mk 1 and mk 2 .. remember those days of magic ?

Avatar image for Rottenwood

Considering the critical and commercial quagmire the series is in, I'm not sure maintaining the current level of quality/continuity is a good idea.

Avatar image for cajunstrike

Agreed. Mortal Kombat game development staff must accompany the sale of the intellectual property in order to maintain quality and continuity.