Nintendo

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Nintendo Co. Ltd.
Type: Publisher, Console Manufacturer
Founded: September 23, 1889
Status: Active
Bestselling Game: Super Mario Bros.
First Party Developers
Brownie Brown - EAD Tokyo
Integrated R&D - Intelligent Systems
Nintendo EAD - NST - Retro Studios
Second Party Developers
AlphaDream - Ambrella - Camelot
Fuse Games - Game Freak
Genius Sonority - HAL Laboratory
NDCube - Nexon - NOISE
Saru Brunei - skip Ltd.

Nintendo Co. Ltd. is the oldest intact company in the video game industry. They are well-known for both their consoles and quality games. At the beginning of 2006, they had sold over 387 million hardware units and nearly 2.2 billion software units worldwide. They are also the majority stockholder of the Seattle Mariners and partial owner of the Atlanta Hawks.

Contents

History

Early Life

Nintendo was founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi as Nintendo Koppai. Based in Kyoto, Nintendo's original product was hanafuda cards. The cards gained popularity and Yamauchi soon had to hire assistants to keep up with demand. After Yamauchi retired, his son-in-law, Sekiryo Yamauchi, took over. He continuued to run the company until 1949.

Middle Life

Hiroshi Yamauchi, Sekiryo Yamauchi's grandchild, took over the company upon his retirement. Upon a visit to United States Playing Card Company, the U.S.A.'s largest card company, he was surprised at how small their office was. He realized that there was a limit to how much you could grow producing only cards. He immediately secured the rights to print Disney characters on their cards in order to boost sales.

In 1963, Yamauchi renamed the company to Nintendo Company, Limited. They started dabbling in new lines of business using the extra money from the Disney cards. Between 1963 and 1968, Nintendo had set up a taxi company, a love hotel, a TV network, a food company that produced instant rice, and a toy company. They also produced Chiritory, a remote controlled vacuum cleaner. All of these ventures except the toy company failed.

By this time, Nintendo was far in debt and struggling to compete with the larger toy companies, including Bandai and Tomy. Because toys had a small product life, they had to constantly come up with something new.

During a visit to the Hanafuda factory in 1970, Yamauchi noticed an employee, Gunpei Yokoi, playing with an extendable arm. Yamauchi ordered Yokoi to develop it into a product for the Christmas rush. The Ultra Hand, as it was known, sold 1.2 million units.

Electronic Age

Nintendo took it's first step toward the video game industry by agreeing to distribute the Magnavox Odyssesy in Japan in 1975. They didn't know how to make their own console, so this gave them a chance to see how things worked under the plastic.

Nintendo released their first arcade game, Computer Othello, in 1978. In the next few years, Nintendo released more arcade games, notably Radarscope and Donkey Kong. Around this time, they began experimenting with the Game & Watch series of handhelds.

The NES Era

Around this time, Yamauchi decided that his employees would perform better if they were divided into competing teams. In accordance with this idea, Yamauchi established R&D 1, R&D 2, and R&D 3. Later, Shigeru Miyamoto was put in charge of a fourth team, R&D 4.

Nintendo attempted to buy Colecovision, but the deal broke down during negotiations. Yamauchi decided to make his own system. Coleco's representative laughed when he heard that, thinking Nintendo couldn't compete.

In 1984, Nintendo finished the Nintendo Entertainment System. They sold it in Japan, to much success and decided that they wanted to sell it in America. They went to Atari and asked if they'd like to distribute it for them, but Atari turned them down. In the end, they distributed it themselves and were very successful.

The NES was more than just a system; it was a cultural phenomenon. There were comics, TV shows, movies, and books based on NES games. Of all the games for the NES, the various Mario games were undoubtedly the most popular.

The popularity of Mario didn't go unnoticed by Yamauchi. In 1990, he transferred most of the game developers from R&D 2 and R&D 3 to R&D 4. R&D 4 was renamed Nintendo EAD and were put in charge of making games for the Super Nintendo. R&D 1 was told to work on Gameboy games. R&D 3 were renamed Nintendo IRD and focused entirely on hardware development.

The Super Nintendo Era

Near the end of the NES's product life, Nintendo faced it's first real competition: the SEGA Genesis. Nintendo decided to finish on their next game: the Super Nintendo. The two competed against each other and for a while, there seemed to be no winner. Eventually, the Super Nintendo pulled ahead.

During the era, both SEGA and Nintendo launched competing advertising campaigns. SEGA tried to promote the Genesis as a technically superior console. They also tried to show the Genesis as a console for a more mature audience, while the Super Nintendo was shown as the system for young children.

Near the end of the Super Nintendo's life cycle, Nintendo attempted to create a disc drive add-on for the Super Nintendo to compete with the SEGA CD. They originally worked with Sony, but backed out of the deal when they found that they wouldn't have complete control over game content. They struck a deal with Philips, but eventually backed out of that deal as well. Sony took the product and sold it themselves as the Playstation. Philips did the same, but the CD-i was not nearly as successful.

The Nintendo 64 Era

Nintendo's next console, the Nintendo 64, was not very successful compared to Nintendo's previous two consoles. This is largely because the Nintendo 64 stuck with cartridges while the Playstation used discs which allowed for more storage space. Ironically, the Playstation they helped developed sold the Nintendo 64.

However, the Nintendo 64 had some excellent games for it, including Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. However, they had very few third party games due to the Nintendo 64's use of cartridges.

At the same time, Nintendo was managing a successful new franchise: Pokémon. Like Mario in the 80s, for a while, Pokemon was everywhere. There was a TV show, movies, manga, and a card game, among other things.

The Gamecube Era

Like the Nintendo 64, the Gamecube didn't manage to do as well as the Super Nintendo or NES. However, Nintendo managed to lure back some third-party developers. The most notable example of this is Capcom releasing Resident Evil 4 for the Gamecube nine months before the port to the Playstation 2.

In 2002, longtime company president Hiroshi Yamauchi stepped down. For the first time in history, the company wasn't passed into the hands of a member of the Yamauchi family. Satoru Iwata, president of HAL Laboratory was appointed president.

In 2005, Iwata made some major changes in the company's structure. R&D 1 and R&D 2 were absorbed into Nintendo EAD. Nintendo EAD is now divided into several different software production groups.

The Wii Era

People seem very enthusiastic about the Wii, more so then they have been with any system since the Super Nintendo. To date, over 5 million units have been sold.

Hardware

Consoles

Handhelds

Other

Locations

Nintendo Company, Limited has it's main office in Kyoto, Japan. It has smaller offices in Redmond, Washington; Richmond, British Columbia; Scoresby, Australia; Grobostheim, Germany; and Seoul, South Korea. iQue, a company that distributes their products in China, is located in Suzhou, China.

Slogans

  • Now you're playing with power! (1986 - 1992)
  • The best play here! (1992 - 1994)
  • Play it loud! (1994 - 1996)
  • Get N or get out! (1996 - 2000)
  • Who are you? (2002 - 2007) (GBA)
  • Touching is good (2003 - Present) (DS)
  • Wii would like to play (2007 - Present) (Wii)

Controversies

Universal Studios v. Nintendo Co. Ltd.

In 1982, Universal Studios wanted to try to get into the video game industry. They noticed that Donkey Kong seemed similar to King Kong. Nintendo was represented by future Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln.

It was discovered that Universal Studios didn't actually own the rights to King Kong.

Censorship

During the NES era, and the first part of the Super Nintendo era, Nintendo enforced a strict censorship policy on every game on their system. In order to keep their image as a family-friendly company, they didn't allow excessive violence, profane language, sexual content, Nazi imagery, religious imagery, animal abuse, ethnic stereo types, or references to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. They have censored 17 games, the latest of which is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This practice was largely discontinued with the establishment of the ESRB.

Nintendo of America, Inc. v. Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc.

Galoob is a toy company that created the Game Genie. The Game Genie modified the games code in order to let the player cheat. Nintendo sued Galoob claiming that the Game Genie created derivative works, infringing on their copyright.

The court decided to rule in favor of Galoob. They ruled that the modifications were not derivative works and if they were, they'd be Fair Use. The court wrote, "Having paid Nintendo a fair return, the consumer may experiment with the product and create new variations of play, for personal enjoyment, without creating a derivative work."

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