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A Sad Day in Gaming - Mortal Kombat is up for Sale

March 2, 2009

A Sad Day in Gaming
By Louis Bedigian

Like an old house the owner can no longer afford, Mortal Kombat is up for sale.

Putting aside the things that matter most in life (such as my family’s wellbeing), there have only been a few moments where I have felt truly saddened. In hindsight, maybe they were silly – I mean it’s not like the near death of E3 two years ago was something to cry about.

Right!?

But as I look over at my PC’s clock and see the time, all I can think about are all the times when time didn’t matter. All I see are images of a sleepless night 15 years ago (give or take a few months), when my friend finally convinced his parents to let him spend the night at my house. Though we could have spent the night pigging out on candy and watching lame horror flicks (the kind of stuff we did in the afternoon), we had just one mission: to play Mortal Kombat.

Actually, that was our mission for many years. We played it through each season, rushing through the school week (and any other boring moment) to get back to our favorite game. And let’s not forget the rare (but cherished) visits to arcades, where a 27-inch screen and a high-end joystick awaited our attention.

It was sad to see those days go, but it’s even sadder to know that may have been the last of my immortal MK moments. Like an old house the owner can no longer afford, Mortal Kombat is up for sale. But unlike some owners, this game doesn’t get a bailout.

The news comes from GamesIndustry.biz (and every other site on the Web), who cites a NetDockets article that reveals information regarding Midway’s court documents. Long story short: it seems the publisher in peril wishes to sell the fighting franchise that made Midway a household name.

For Mortal Kombat fans everywhere, this information is like a Scorpion spear to the heart, a Sektor missile to the chest, or a Stryker grenade to the face. No matter the series’ future, to see it continue without the Midway name attached would be like playing a Final Fantasy game without the word “Square” written somewhere on the box (with or without “Enix” attached).

Lately I’ve seen the reversal of many awful things. E3 is going back to its old format (not entirely, but close enough). Jay Leno avoided retirement. Heck, even Blink-182 got back together!

But this development, I fear, cannot possibly lead to a happy result. If Midway execs persevere, they can reportedly keep the series intact. If not, however, the best-case scenario would require Mortal Kombat’s buyer to hire Ed Boon and his team to helm the next project. Though fully possibly, I don’t want to naively assume that’s what will happen. Because there’s a strong possibility that the buyer will see the franchise as a cash cow and purchase it solely for that reason.

There’s also the strong possibility that another fighting game developer will scoop it up, hoping to boost its cred and portfolio, and likely produce several “Mortal Kombat Vs. [Other Fighting Franchise]” games. But if Ed Boon isn’t a part of the process, will anyone care?

In a way, this might be somewhat of a poetic injustice. If the franchise is indeed on the market, it may prove to be the ultimate Fatality for MK, revealing that the series is just as fragile – dare I say, mortal – as the losing player at the Finish Him screen.

Gw
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