Atari Melbourne House

Based in Melbourne, now a part of Krome Studios

Known as:

 * Beam Software Pty., Ltd. -- Company name (Developer) from 1980 to 1996.
 * Melbourne House -- Company name (Publisher) from 1980 to 1999. (Developer) from 1997 to 1999.
 * Infogrames Melbourne House Pty Ltd. -- Company name from 1999 to 2003.
 * Atari Melbourne House Pty Ltd. -- Company name from 2003 to late 2006.
 * Krome Studios Melbourne -- A part of Krome Studios from 3/11/2006

At its peak, Melbourne House reached over 150 employees.


[edit] History

Melbourne House derives its name from the city in Australia where it is based. Formed in 1977 by Alfred Milgrom and Naomi Besen, the company exploited Milgrom's knowledge of computer science and Besen's marketing expertise to move them from being a general publishing company into one exclusively oriented around home computers.

In February 1980, a homesick Alfred Milgrom picked up a copy of The Australian Financial Review and read an article about the growth of computer game publishing in the US. He had been running a London book company named Melbourne House, and the only video game he'd ever really seen was chess on the Apple II.

Suddenly, Sir Clive Sinclair released the Sinclair ZX80, with a massive 1K of RAM. This state-of-the-art home computer sold fast. In August 1980, Melbourne House published one of the first ever books for the personal computer market. It was 30 programs for the Sinclair ZX80, and was an overwhelming success. Since then Melbourne House has been responsible for a very wide range of books for several computers including titles like Spectrum Hardware Manual and Spectrum Microdrive Book. The company also began to distribute games written in the US.

Inspired, Milgrom returned to Australia in 1980 and co-founded Beam Software with Naomi Besen, Australia's first electronic game company. They had one employee and produced machine language games for the ZX80, followed by the ZX81, Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 16, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, Oric, and other legendary doorstops.

1982, Adam Lancman joins the Beam Group as Financial Director. Melbourne House became so successful that it was able to phase out book publishing and concentrate soley on fabled Beam games like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Way of the Exploding Fist.

1986 was the year of the Way of the Exploding Fist. Widely regarded as the first ever one on one home beat 'em up, this Commodore 64 classic sold over half a million units and was number 1 in sales throughout Europe in 1986, while Melbourne House, Beam's publishing label, titles accounted for 20% of all games sold worldwide in that year.

Melbourne House struggled with financial problems in 1987, and the UK publishing arm and name was bought by Mastertronic. Mastertronic was a publisher and distributor of low-cost ("budget") computer game software, and it was hoped that the purchase of Melbourne House would help them in the foray of full priced games.

"The situation about one year following the sale of Melbourne House was definitely difficult," Alfred Milgrom said. "There was a contractual dispute between Beam and Mastertronics concerning a new product which had been developed by Beam. As a result, all of the work done in 1987 could not be published.

Having bought Melbourne House and with heavy financial commitments to the Arcadia project, Mastertronic itself was now sufferering severe cash flow problems.

Mastertronic was then bought by Virgin in 1988 and the company was renamed the 'Mastertronic Group Ltd', and later was merged with Virgin Games to create 'Virgin Mastertronic'. Virgin then renamed the lot to Virgin Interactive Entertainment, and it seemed that the Melbourne House name was simply forgotten under all these changes.

1989, Adam Lancman becomes shareholder and Joint Managing Director of Beam Group

1991, an Englishman by the name of Andrew Carter finishes a Star Wars game on the NES for Beam/Melbourne House and leaves to create a game company called Motion Pixel Sdn Bhd in Malaysia. He returns later in 1997 to work as Technical Director on KKND: Krush, Kill 'N' Destroy.

In 1996 Beam Software became the first publicly listed games company on the Australian Stock Exchange.

When Beam's directors realised Virgin had allowed the Melbourne House brand to lapse in 1996, they re-register it and launched it as its publishing / game development subsidiary.

"Melbourne House has a great reputation of delivering quality computer games", commented Beam's Chairman and Publisher, Alfred Milgrom. "Now the people that grew up with 'The Hobbit', and a whole generation of new gamers will experience all new thrills and enthusiasm from our products. We look forward to meeting and exceeding their expectations of what Melbourne House products mean."

In 1999, Beam sells Melbourne House to Infogrames, which included the computer games division and, a portal for games enthusiasts, to extinguish $12 million of debt.

2000, Beam changes company name from Beam to Blaze International and develops software and provides services for entertainment, telecommunications and Internet applications.

Impressed by the abilities of its Australian game developers, Infogrames followed its purchase with a A$50 million investment in 2002. Infogrames originally saw its acquisition of Melbourne House, and of Australian distributor OziSoft in the same year, as an ideal way to gain a foothold in both the Australian and Asian markets.

Founder Alfred Milgrom and CEO / Managing Director, Adam Lancman resigned from the Board in April 2001, selling all of their 34 million shares.

In May 2003, Infogrames Entertainment announced that it has decided to adopt the legendary brand name of Atari for its global commercial operations, with the company's U.S. operations renamed as Atari, Inc. Infogrames Melbourne House was renamed to Atari Melbourne House.

March 2005, Adam Lancman, President of the GDAA and previous head of Atari Melbourne House passes away. Andrew Carter is the new CEO of Melbourne House.

Currently employs 100 people (Source - 1/3/2006 The Age ), although unconfirmed reports say it's closer to 42.

February 2006, Atari boss Bruno Bonnell plans to sell off a few internal Atari studios due to Atari's severe financial situation. Atari Melbourne House is included in the sale, which is expected to happen when they complete their current game in development, Test Drive: Unlimited.

On Friday, the 3rd of November, Krome Studios announced the acquisition of Atari Melbourne House, which will now be known as Krome Studios Melbourne.

The press release:

Brisbane, Australia—November 3, 2006—Krome Studios, the largest videogame company in Australia and leading worldwide independent game studio, announced today that it has acquired Melbourne House, the former Atari development studio based in Melbourne, Australia. The addition of Melbourne House bolsters Krome Studios' size to almost 300 in-house making it truly one of the largest and most proven independent studios worldwide.

With the Melbourne House acquisition, Krome Studios inherits highly skilled and seasoned programmers, engineers, artists and production personnel which will help work on Krome's upcoming games and further enhance the studios' tools pipeline. The Melbourne studio will now be known as Krome Studios Melbourne and will act as an extension to the headquarters in Brisbane. This acquisition, along with Krome Studios Adelaide, which was formed and announced earlier this year, and a network of extensive outsourcing partners throughout Asia Pacific and Europe solidifies Krome as a leading global independent studio.

"It's an amazing time for us right now and we couldn't be happier to welcome this new team to the Krome family," said Robert Walsh, CEO and Co-founder of Krome Studios. "Acquiring the Melbourne House studio will allow us to continue to expand our company with additional seasoned talent, many who we also are great friends with, to help further grow our business and position ourselves as a leading developer working on both current and next generation titles."

Krome Studios recently finished development on The Legend of Spyro™: A New Beginning for Sierra Entertainment, and continues the development on the upcoming Hellboy (*working title) for Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. which is scheduled for release in 2007. The studio is also working on several unannounced current and next generation games and focusing on extending their catalog of original IPs.

[edit] Trivia

Melbourne House co-founder, Alfred Milgrom, is Managing Director of Smarty Pants Publishing. Smarty Pants is a developer and publisher of innovative entertainment and educational software titles, primarily for kids. Smarty Pants is a privately owned company, based in Melbourne, Australia.

FE: What exactly was the relationship between Melbourne House and Beam Software?

Phillip Mitchell: Beam was a subsidiary of Melbourne House. MH was the publishing company, Beam was the development studio. When MH was eventually sold so we could concentrate on development, Beam became an independent group. Funnily enough part of the group is now Laser Beam, a publishing company. [ Source ]

tsumea has stored some rare pages not found elsewhere of the old Beam website from 1999.

 1. About Beam
 1. Beam's Directors
 1. Beam's History
 1. Key Management at Beam
 1. The People at Beam
 1. Beam's Press Release 1 - Beam Announces Plans to Sell Game Businesses
 1. Beam's Press Release 2 - Beam signs agreement to sell computer game businesses
 1. Beam's Press Release 3 - Beam letter to shareholders

[edit] Games developed by

  • Game , (Platform, Year)

[edit] Games under development by

  • Game , (Platform, Year)

[edit] Links

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