Tony Albrecht: Midway’s A Sinking Ship

shipsink.jpgWe all know Midway isn’t doing so well. A couple of bad games (okay, maybe a lot), accusations of insider trading (oh dear) and the closing of several studios (RIP Ratbag) have left the company in a bit of a spot.

It also doesn’t help that its stock has gone from a healthy $US 22 in mid-2005 to the anorexic $US 4 price it wallows in now.

A couple of days ago Pandemic coder Tony Albrecht made a post on his blog, Seven Degrees of Freedom, detailing how Midway ended up in the position it’s in. It’s mostly to do with the company’s CEO, David F. Zucker and his stock market dealings.

Albrecht does an excellent job of breaking Zucker’s story down into neat, digestible facts:

Every available day (excluding weekends and Xmas and New Years) Zucker would buy 50,000 shares at a discounted price (about half the going rate) and then sell them immediately. You can see the full details here and the graph above gives you an idea of the amounts involved – black is earnings, and red is expenditures. All in all, Mr Zucker ended up with about $8.5Million in his pocket.

It almost smells like an intricate pump and dump scheme. Just replace the dodgy pharmaceuticals with crappy games.Albrecht is also unimpressed with Midway’s choice of engines. Not because the engines are bad – just Midway’s decision-making skills:

Don’t get me wrong, Unreal 3 is a great engine for PC FPS’s and has been ported to and is working on the PS3 and 360, but its not much good for the types of games that Midway is trying to specialise in.

Tony ends his post declaring that “Midway is screwed” and that Unreal Tournament 3 will be the publisher’s last high-profile title.

The Nefarious Mr Zucker [Seven Degrees of Freedom]

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