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Original Xbox Download   Midway shafts Aussie developer, Ratbag Studios.. Original Xbox Downloads

Midway shafts Aussie developer, Ratbag Studios..


Xbox Development
' The Adelaide-based game developer formerly known as Ratbag will be closed down by its Chicago-based owners just five months after it was bought for more than $7 million. '
Sources close to the company said U.S.-company Midway Game's worldwide studios senior vice president Matthew Booty was in Adelaide to deliver the bad news to about 70 stunned staff on Tuesday night.

The company had been producing its popular Powerslide, Dirt Track Racing and other games PlayStation 2, X-Box and other console makers under the Midway Studios Australia brand name. Company founders Greg Siegele and Richard Harrison were locked in talks with Mr Booty yesterday to convince Midway Games that they should remain open, another company supporter said. Mr Siegele gave no comment and Chicago-based Midway Games spokesman Reilly Brennan was unavailable to speak on the closure. Schoolfriends Mr Siegele and Mr Harrison founded the firm in 1993, spending all their personal savings on developing Ratbag's early technology.

In 1996 their Powerslide car racing game was a hit at the interactive industry's E3 expo with eight large publishers bidding for the games' rights.

By 2003, the company showcased its Powerslide Slipstream game for PlayStation 2 at the E3 expo. Ratbag's games have been developed for PlayStation 2, X-Box and PC and plans were to develop games for the GameCube platform.

New York Stock Exchange-listed Midway Games, worth $US2 billion yesterday, bought Ratbag in August by handing over more than $7 million worth of shares to the founders and 10 senior staff.

Those shares had since increased by 64 per cent, putting their worth at more than $11 million yesterday.

In August, Mr Booty said Midway was excited to add Ratbag to its portfolio because of its solid management and strong development team.

Ratbag's closure follows a recent shutdown of Midway's San Diego studio and the purchase of a German games company focused on PlayStation 3 games.

The move has raised speculation that Midway Games was dumping its PlayStation 2 games makers for games developers working in the PS3 arena.

Ratbag have been around over 12 years now and earned a reputation as one of the best driving games developers in the world.

Xbox owners probably wouldn't know alot about them though as for some reason, all their talent and programming skill went mostly into PC & PS2 titles with the recent Ubisoft Dukes of Hazzard game (which is averaging about 50% at gamerankings.com) their only Xbox release. Why the great, (and in its time, ground breaking) Powerslide series was never revamped for current-gen consoles is beyond us.

With stories coming out that even as recently as last week there were staff moving from overseas to work at Ratbag, it's obvious that Midway have done the wrong thing. Hopefully the original owners can take their millions of dollars worth of Midway shares and perhaps start over. It seems ironic that the very reason they sold out in the first place was most likely to ensure the life of this small Adelaide studio and that very decision has seen their past 12 years work stolen from right underneath them (not that this scenario is new to Australian companies that get bought out by overseas companies *cough* Ansett *cough*).

Let's hope that Midway do the right thing and the talented Ratbag staff can all continue their great work in the industry.
News-Source: The Advertiser
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