Mastertronic was originally a publisher and distributor of low-cost ("budget") computer game software founded in 1983. At its peak the label was the dominant software publisher in the UK, a position achieved by selling cassette-based software at the £1.99 and £2.99 price-points. As well as being an exclusive wholesaler of computer games to Woolworth's, Toys "Я" Us and other leading retailers, 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 outselling its rival, the NES for a certain amount of time, 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 sold (and merged into) Sega itself.
Mastertronic released games under several different labels:
- Mastertronic's Added Dimension (M.A.D.) – launched in 1985 for their a little more expensive games.
- Entertainment USA – launched in 1986 as Mastertronic grew and started publishing games made in the US.
- Bulldog – launched in 1987 primarily to distribute the 'Best of British' games in the US.
- Rack-it – a budget label for the publisher Hewson.
- Americana – a budget label for the publisher U.S. Gold.
- Ricochet – a re-release label they created after the acquisition of Melbourne House.
Mastertronic no longer exists, but the rights to the name were acquired by Mastertronic Group who also own the Sold-Out Software label.