Mastertronic Website – A Brief History

Mastertronic logo
Mastertronic logo

Anthony Guter, Mastertronic’s former Financial Controller created a website dedicated to the company in 2004. The site was intended to give an in-depth history of all aspects of Mastertronic, its releases and coverage the company had in the media. In conjunction with Anthony, the site is being transferred to this brand new site prior to his site being closed. But in his words, this is what his site was all about…

At its peak in 1987, Mastertronic was the dominant computer games publisher in the UK, selling millions of “budget priced” games (retailing at £2.99 or less). It owned the famous Melbourne House label and was involved in ambitious projects for new arcade game systems largely sourced and managed in the USA by Mastertronic Inc. Virgin Group was a part owner. Mastertronic was exclusive wholesaler of computer games to Woolworth’s, Toys’R’Us and other leading retailers. It was the exclusive UK supplier for Sega consoles and software. Yet the business had started from nothing at the end of 1983.

Between 1985 and 1991 I worked for Mastertronic (later Virgin Mastertronic). I was Financial Controller until 1989 and then Systems Manager. By 1992 the non-console part of the business had become secondary to European-wide distribution of Sega products. Virgin Group disposed of the console side to Sega Japan and the remainder (comprising Mastertronic and Mastertronic Inc, Virgin Games, Melbourne House and Arcadia) was renamed Virgin Interactive Entertainment, became wholly based in the USA and the distinctive Mastertronic budget games were no longer published.

Today the memory of the label and its many successful games (as well as a large number of deeply bad ones) is kept alive on a number of websites. I am not trying to compete with any of these. Instead these pages explore the history and image of the company. However there some tables of best-selling titles across all formats and for each of the main 8-bit formats on the hits page.

Copies of the original games can be downloaded and replayed on games emulators. In theory this is a breach of copyright. In practice, not only have some of the authors publicly renounced their copyright, but nobody has any commercial interest in the titles.

In August 2003 a new business was launched using the Mastertronic name which featured a range of budget priced re-releases of PC games. It folded in 2015. These stories and more will be featured on this site in the coming months in the Press Release section, which will be a portal to over 100 magazine news items and features that illuminate the story of Mastertronic, from the early suspicions and hostility of the trade to the eclipse of budget games by the new generation of consoles.

In addition there will be links to other websites dealing with computer games in 1980s, and a few photographs of some of the original artwork created for our distinctive inlays.

If you have any questions about Mastertronic I will be happy to try to answer them. Please remember that I was not a games programmer and cannot answer questions about coding, solutions or cheats. I can be found on Facebook as a member of the Mastertronic Collectors Group.

Anthony Guter

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