computer game publisher and distributor
Mastertronic was originally a publisher and distributor of low-cost computer game software founded in 1983. Their first games were distributed in mid-1984. At its peak the label was the dominant software publisher in the UK, a position achieved by selling cassette-based software at £1.99. As well as supplying leading retailers such as Woolworth's and Toys "R" Us, Mastertronic sold software in outlets such as newsagents which had not been previously associated with the software market.
Later diversification included the setting up of US operations to source and distribute their software, as well as an unsuccessful arcade games division (Arcadia Systems). However, it was their decision to market the Sega Master System in the UK that ultimately proved most successful. It resulted in the Master System selling much better than its rival, the NES than in many other territories and was cited by some as Virgin Group's reason for investing in the company (and later buying it outright).
As the budget software market declined, the Sega hardware distribution became the dominant part of the business, and the company was eventually merged into Sega itself. Although the original company no longer exists, the rights to the name were acquired by another company, Mastertronic Group, formed in 2006 as a result of a merger of The Producers and Sold Out Sales & Marketing with Frank Herman, one of the founders of the original company, as its chairman.
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