Warner Bros. hires Midway’s local employees

The 100 people, mostly game developers, employed at the Midway Games studio in Logan Square are now employees of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Midway spokesman Geoffrey Mogilner said.

Midway closed Friday on the sale of the majority of its assets, including its Chicago and Seattle game development studios and an intellectual property portfolio that features juggernaut Mortal Kombat, to Warner Bros. Entertainment from $33 million.

“Rather than buying the company and taking on its liabilities, Warner Bros. purchased the intellectual property, the leases and inventory, but it doesn’t take on the liabilities, which remain with Midway Games, Inc.,” Mogilner said.

Mogilner and the rest of the 60 employees at Midway’s corporate office, across Roscoe Street from its studio, have been given 60 days notice that they’ll be laid off by early September. In the meantime they remain employees of Midway, engaged in winding down the company’s activities.

Midway has also closed its Newcastle, England studio, which employed 80 people, and gave notice of the planned closure by September of its San Diego studio, which employs 100 people, after failing to find a buyer for those facilities.

Warner offered employment to the staff of the formerly Midway-owned Surreal Software in Seattle, where Midway has developed their “This is Vegas” line.

Founded in 1958 as a manufacturer of amusement equipment and purchased by Bally in 1969, Midway became a leader in arcade games with “Space Invaders” and the “Pac Man” franchise. Midway shifted its focus to home consoles in 1996, and was spun off as an independent company in 1998.

Despite aggressive acquisitions of other game developers earlier this decade, Midway has been steadily losing money and taking on massive debt for the past several years. It was delisted from New York Stock Exchange last November.

Majority shareholder Sumner Redstone, head of CBS/Viacom, in December sold controlling ownership of Midway to Mark Thomas of MT Acquisition Holdings for $100,000 cash and $70 million of the company’s hundred of millions of dollars in debt.

In February Midway filed for bankruptcy.