Mastertronic lay off staff, leave boxed games behind: “PC budget games now sold online”

The modern-day Mastertronic logo.

Mastertronic are a UK games publisher with their roots in the ‘80s – but you’ll more recently remember them as the purveyors of budget boxed PC games. 

There’s plenty of nostalgia tied the Sold Out, M.A.D. and PC Gamer Presents labels – but sadly, that business has very nearly driven Mastertronic into the ground. The publisher has made 40% of its staff redundant and will close its Cambridgeshire HQ.

“We had to change,” said founder Andy Payne. “We had to decide not to do things that were sending us towards financial ruin.”

“We knew that the business models we had been supporting were becoming unsustainable for us and some of our partners,” wrote Payne in a blog for Develop entitled ‘The Hardest Year of our Life’.

Selling packaged games at retail had become “ultra-high risk”, and “simply unsustainable” for the small publisher.

“PC budget games are now sold online digitally, as we all know, and there is no longer a real appetite or indeed the specialist retailers who can sell PC games in sufficient volumes to keep the parties interested, us included,” said Payne. “That used to be our core business. It is no longer a core business, let alone ours!”

Mastertronic’s new plan will see them cut all costs unrelated to digital development and publishing. They had already parted ways with their retail sales team in February – and last week began the process of making staff redundant after one creditor demanded fast repayment of a loan.

“Our digital business is extremely healthy,” finished Payne. “Indeed the problem we have encountered has been caused by unexpected historic debts from the area we have exited.

“We have no problem trading in the future – it’s the past that is the issue.”

Do you have any Mastertronic-branded budget games on your shelves still?