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Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Native name
Nintendō Kabushiki gaisha
Formerly called
  • Nintendo Koppai
  • Nintendo Playing Card Co.
Kabushiki gaisha
Traded asTYO: 7974
FoundedSeptember 23, 1889; 131 years ago (1889-09-23), in Kyoto, Japan[2]
FounderFusajiro Yamauchi
HeadquartersKyoto, Japan[3]
Coordinates34°58′11″N 135°45′22″E / 34.969739°N 135.756209°E / 34.969739; 135.756209Coordinates: 34°58′11″N 135°45′22″E / 34.969739°N 135.756209°E / 34.969739; 135.756209

Number of locations
1 store (as of 2016)
Area served
Key people
Production output
Hardware:Decrease 16.30 million (2014) Software:Decrease 123.20 million (2014)
RevenueDecrease ¥504.459 billion (2016)[4]
Increase ¥32.881 billion (2016)
ProfitDecrease ¥16.505 billion (2016)
Total assetsDecrease ¥1.297 trillion (2016)
Total equityDecrease ¥1.161 trillion (2016)
Number of employees
Decrease 5,120 (2015)
Footnotes / references

Nintendo Co., Ltd. (Japanese: 任天堂株式会社 Hepburn: Nintendō Kabushiki gaisha?) is a Japanese multinational consumer electronics and software company headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. Nintendo is the world's largest video game company by revenue.[9] Founded on September 23, 1889,[2] by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it originally produced handmade hanafuda playing cards.[10] By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as cab services and love hotels.[11]

Abandoning previous ventures in favor of toys in the 1960s, Nintendo then developed into a video game company in the 1970s, ultimately becoming one of the most influential in the industry and Japan's third most-valuable company with a market value of over $85 billion.[12] Nintendo of America is also the majority owner of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners.[13]

The word Nintendo can be roughly translated from Japanese to English as "leave luck to heaven".[14] As of March 31, 2014, Nintendo has cumulative sales of over 670.43 million hardware units and 4.23 billion software units.[5] The company is known for creating some of the best known video game franchises, including Mario, Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda.

History[edit | edit source]

1889–1956: As a card company[edit | edit source]

Former headquarters plate, from when Nintendo was solely a playing card company

Nintendo was founded as a card company in late 1889, later (1951) named Nintendo Koppai (Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd.), by Fusajiro Yamauchi.[citation needed] Based in Kyoto, Japan, the business produced and marketed a playing card game called "Hanafuda". The handmade cards soon became popular, and Yamauchi hired assistants to mass-produce cards to satisfy demand.[15] Nintendo continues to manufacture playing cards in Japan[16] and organizes its own contract bridge tournament called the "Nintendo Cup".[17]

1956–1974: New ventures[edit | edit source]

File:Nintendo love tester.jpg
The Love Tester, one of Nintendo's experimental toys.

In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi, grandson of Fusajiro Yamauchi, visited the U.S. to talk with the United States Playing Card Company, the dominant playing card manufacturer there. He found that the biggest playing card company in the world was using only a small office. Yamauchi's realization that the playing card business had limited potential was a turning point. He then acquired the license to use Disney characters on playing cards to drive sales.

In 1963, Yamauchi renamed Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. to Nintendo Co., Ltd.[18] The company then began to experiment in other areas of business using newly injected capital during the period of time between 1963 and 1968. Nintendo set up a taxi company called Daiya. This business was earlier successful however Nintendo was forced to sell it because problems with the labour unions were making it too expensive to run the service. It also set up a love hotel chain, a TV network, a food company (selling instant rice) and several other ventures.[19] All of these ventures eventually failed, and after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, playing card sales dropped, and Nintendo's stock price plummeted to its lowest recorded level of ¥60.[20][21]

In 1966, Nintendo moved into the Japanese toy industry with the Ultra Hand, an extendable arm developed by its maintenance engineer Gunpei Yokoi in his free time. Yokoi was moved from maintenance to the new "Nintendo Games" department as a product developer. Nintendo continued to produce popular toys, including the Ultra Machine, Love Tester and the Kousenjuu series of light gun games.[citation needed] Despite some successful products, Nintendo struggled to meet the fast development and manufacturing turnaround required in the toy market, and fell behind the well-established companies such as Bandai and Tomy.[15]

In 1973, its focus shifted to family entertainment venues with the Laser Clay Shooting System, using the same light gun technology used in Nintendo's Kousenjuu series of toys, and set up in abandoned bowling alleys. Following some success, Nintendo developed several more light gun machines (such as the light gun shooter game Wild Gunman) for the emerging arcade scene. While the Laser Clay Shooting System ranges had to be shut down following excessive costs, Nintendo had found a new market.

1974–1978: Early electronic era[edit | edit source]

Nintendo's first venture into the video gaming industry was securing rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey video game console in Japan in 1974. Nintendo began to produce its own hardware in 1977, with the Color TV-Game home video game consoles. Four versions of these consoles were produced, each including variations of a single game (for example, Color TV Game 6 featured six versions of Light Tennis).

A student product developer named Shigeru Miyamoto was hired by Nintendo at this time.[22] He worked for Yokoi, and one of his first tasks was to design the casing for several of the Color TV-Game consoles. Miyamoto went on to create, direct and produce some of Nintendo's most famous video games and become one of the most recognizable figures in the video game industry.[22]

In 1975, Nintendo moved into the video arcade game industry with EVR Race, designed by their first game designer, Genyo Takeda,[23] and several more titles followed. Nintendo had some small success with this venture, but the release of Donkey Kong in 1981, designed by Miyamoto, changed Nintendo's fortunes dramatically. The success of the game and many licensing opportunities (such as ports on the Atari 2600, Intellivision and ColecoVision) gave Nintendo a huge boost in profit and in addition, the game also introduced an early iteration of Mario, then known in Japan as Jumpman, the eventual company mascot.

1979–2003: Success with video games[edit | edit source]

The Game & Watch series was Nintendo's first worldwide success in video game consoles.

In 1979, Gunpei Yokoi conceived the idea of a handheld video game, while observing a fellow bullet train commuter who passed the time by interacting idly with a portable LCD calculator, which gave birth to Game & Watch.[24] In 1980, Nintendo launched Game & Watch—a handheld video game series developed by Yokoi. These systems do not contain interchangeable cartridges and thus the hardware was tied to the game. The first Game & Watch game released, titled Ball, was distributed worldwide. The modern "cross" D-pad design was developed in 1982, by Yokoi for a Donkey Kong version. Proven to be popular, the design was patented by Nintendo. It later earned a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award.[25][26]

In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer (colloquialized as "Famicom") home video game console in Japan, alongside ports of its most popular arcade titles. In 1985, a cosmetically reworked version of the system known outside Japan as the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES, launched in North America. The practice of bundling the system along with select games helped to make Super Mario Bros. one of the best-selling video games in history.[27]

In 1988, Gunpei Yokoi and his team at Nintendo R&D1 conceived the new Game Boy handheld system, with the purpose of merging the two very successful ideas of the Game & Watch's portability along with the NES's cartridge interchangeability. Nintendo released the Game Boy in Japan on April 21, 1989, and in North America on July 31, 1989. Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa managed a deal to bundle the popular third party game Tetris along with the Game Boy, and the pair launched as an instant success.

In 1989, Nintendo announced plans to release the successor to the Famicom, the Super Famicom. Based on a 16-bit processor, Nintendo boasted significantly superior hardware specifications of graphics, sound, and game speed over the original 8-bit Famicom. The system was also said to have backwards compatibility with Famicom games, though this feature was ultimately cut upon release. The Super Famicom was finally released relatively late to the market in Japan on November 21, 1990, and released as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (officially abbreviated the Super NES or SNES and commonly shortened to Super Nintendo) in North America on August 23, 1991 and in Europe in 1992. Its main rival was the 16-bit Mega Drive, known in North America as Genesis, which had been advertised aggressively against the nascent 8-bit NES. A console war between Sega and Nintendo ensued during the early 1990s.[28] From 1990 to 1992, Nintendo opened World of Nintendo shops in the United States where consumers could test and buy Nintendo products.

In August 1993, Nintendo announced the SNES's successor, code-named Project Reality. Featuring 64-bit graphics, the new system was developed as a joint venture between Nintendo and North-American-based technology company Silicon Graphics. The system was announced to be released by the end of 1995, but was subsequently delayed. Meanwhile, Nintendo continued the Nintendo Entertainment System family with the release of the NES-101, a smaller redesign of the original NES. Nintendo also announced a CD drive peripheral called the Super NES CD-ROM Adapter, which was co-developed first by Sony with the name "Play Station" and then by Philips. Bearing prototypes and joint announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show, it was on track for a 1994 release, but was controversially cancelled.

During 1995, Nintendo announced that it had sold one billion game cartridges worldwide,[29] ten percent of those being from the Mario franchise.[citation needed] Nintendo deemed 1994 the "Year of the Cartridge". To further their support for cartridges, Nintendo announced that Project Reality, which had now been renamed the Ultra 64, would not use a CD format as expected, but would rather use cartridges as its primary media format. Nintendo IRD general manager Genyo Takeda was impressed by video game development company Rare Ltd.'s progress with real-time 3D graphics technology, using state of the art Silicon Graphics workstations. As a result, Nintendo bought a 25% stake in the company, eventually expanding to 49%, and offered their catalogue of characters to create a CGI game around, making Rare Nintendo's first western-based second-party developer.[30] Their first game as partners with Nintendo was Donkey Kong Country. The game was a critical success and sold over eight million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling game in the SNES library.[30] In September 1994, Nintendo, along with six other video game giants including Sega, Electronic Arts, Atari, Acclaim, Philips, and 3DO approached the United States Senate and demanded a ratings system for video games to be enforced, which prompted the decision to create the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Aiming to produce an affordable virtual reality console, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy in 1995, designed by Gunpei Yokoi. The console consists of a head-mounted semi-portable system with one red-colored screen for each of the user's eyes, featuring stereoscopic graphics. Games are viewed through a binocular eyepiece and controlled using an affixed gamepad. Critics were generally disappointed with the quality of the games and the red-colored graphics, and complained of gameplay-induced headaches.[31] The system sold poorly and was quietly discontinued.[32] Amid the system's failure, Yokoi retired from Nintendo.[33] During the same year, Nintendo launched the Satellaview in Japan, a peripheral for the Super Famicom. The accessory allowed users to play video games via broadcast for a set period of time. Various games were made exclusively for the platform, as well as various remakes.

In 1996, Nintendo released the Ultra 64 as the Nintendo 64 in Japan and North America. The console was later released in Europe and Australia in 1997. Despite the limitations set by using cartridges, the technical specifications of the Nintendo 64 surpassed its competitors. With its market shares slipping to the Sega Saturn and partner-turned-rival Sony PlayStation, Nintendo revitalized its brand by launching a $185 million marketing campaign centered around the "Play it Loud" slogan.[34] During the same year, Nintendo also released the Game Boy Pocket in Japan, a smaller version of the Game Boy that generated more sales for the platform. On October 4, 1997, famed Nintendo developer Gunpei Yokoi died in a car crash. In 1997, Nintendo released the SNS-101 (called Super Famicom Jr. in Japan), a smaller redesigned version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

In 1998, the successor to the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color, was released. The system had improved technical specifications allowing it to run games made specifically for the system as well as games released for the Game Boy, albeit with added color. The Game Boy Camera and Printer were also released as accessories. In October 1998, Retro Studios was founded as an alliance between Nintendo and former Iguana Entertainment founder Jeff Spangenberg. Nintendo saw an opportunity for the new studio to create games for the upcoming GameCube targeting an older demographic, in the same vein as Iguana Entertainment's successful Turok series for the Nintendo 64.[35]

In 2001, just three years later, Nintendo introduced the redesigned Game Boy Advance. The same year, Nintendo also released the GameCube to lukewarm sales, and it ultimately failed to regain the market share lost by the Nintendo 64. When Yamauchi, the company's president since 1949, retired on May 24, 2002,[36][37] Satoru Iwata succeeded as Nintendo's fourth president, becoming the first Nintendo president who was unrelated to the Yamauchi family through blood or marriage since its founding in 1889.[38][39]

In 2003, Nintendo released the Game Boy Advance SP, its fourth handheld system.

2004–2011: Nintendo DS and Wii[edit | edit source]

In 2004, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS, its fourth major handheld system. The DS is a dual screened handheld featuring touch screen capabilities, which respond to either a stylus or the touch of a finger. Former Nintendo president and now chairman Hiroshi Yamauchi was translated by GameScience as explaining, "If we can increase the scope of the industry, we can re-energise the global market and lift Japan out of depression - that is Nintendo's mission." Regarding lukewarm GameCube sales which had yielded the company's first reported operating loss in over 100 years, Yamauchi continued: "The DS represents a critical moment for Nintendo's success over the next two years. If it succeeds, we rise to the heavens, if it fails, we sink into hell."[40][41][42] Thanks to titles such as Nintendogs and Mario Kart DS, the DS became a success. In 2005, Nintendo released the Game Boy Micro in North America, a redesign of the Game Boy Advance. The last system in the Game Boy line, it was also the smallest Game Boy, and the least successful. In the middle of 2005, Nintendo opened the Nintendo World Store in New York City, which would sell Nintendo games, present a museum of Nintendo history, and host public parties such as for product launches.

The Wii Remote, along with the Wii, was said to be revolutionary because of its motion detection capabilities.

In the first half of 2006, Nintendo released the Nintendo DS Lite, a version of the original Nintendo DS with lighter weight, brighter screen, and better battery life. In addition to this streamlined design, its prolific subset of casual games appealed to the masses, such as the Brain Age series. Meanwhile, New Super Mario Bros. provided a substantial addition to the Mario series when it was launched to the top of sales charts. The successful direction of the Nintendo DS had a big influence on Nintendo's next home console (including the common Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection),[43] which had been codenamed "Revolution" and was now renamed to "Wii".[citation needed] In August 2006, Nintendo published ES, a now-dormant, open source research operating system project designed around web application integration but for no specific purpose.[44][45]

In the latter half of 2006, Nintendo released the Wii as the backward-compatible successor to the GameCube. Based upon intricate Wii Remote motion controls and a balance board, the Wii inspired several new game franchises, some targeted at entirely new market segments of casual and fitness gaming. At more than 100 million units, the Wii is the best selling console of the seventh generation, regaining the market share lost during the tenures of the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube.

On May 1, 2007, Nintendo acquired an 80% stake on video game development company Monolith Soft, previously owned by Bandai Namco. Monolith Soft is best known for developing role-playing games such as the Xenosaga and Baten Kaitos series.[46]

During the holiday season of 2008, Nintendo followed up the success of the DS with the release of the Nintendo DSi in Japan. The system features a more powerful CPU and more RAM, two cameras, one facing towards the player and one facing outwards, and had an online distribution store called DSiWare. The DSi was later released worldwide during 2009. In the latter half of 2009, Nintendo released the Nintendo DSi XL in Japan, a larger version of the DSi. This updated system was later released worldwide in 2010.

2011–present: Nintendo 3DS and Wii U[edit | edit source]

In 2011, Nintendo released the Nintendo 3DS, based upon a glasses-free 3D display. In February 2012, Nintendo acquired Mobiclip, a France-based research and development company specialized in highly optimized software technologies such as video compression. The company's name was later changed to Nintendo European Research & Development.[47] During the fourth quarter of 2012, Nintendo released the Wii U. It sold slower than expected,[48] despite being the first eighth generation console. By September 2013, however, sales had rebounded.[clarification needed] Intending to broaden the 3DS market, Nintendo released 2013's cost-reduced Nintendo 2DS. The 2DS is compatible with but lacks the 3DS's more expensive but cosmetic autostereoscopic 3D feature. Nintendo also released the Wii Mini, a cheaper and non-networked redesign of the Wii.

On September 25, 2013, Nintendo announced it had purchased a 28% stake in a Panasonic spin-off company called PUX Corporation. The company specializes in face and voice recognition technology, with which Nintendo intends to improve the usability of future game systems. Nintendo has also worked with this company in the past to create character recognition software for a Nintendo DS touchscreen.[49] After announcing a 30% dive in profits for the April to December 2013 period, president Satoru Iwata announced he would take a 50% pay-cut, with other executives seeing reductions by 20%-30%.[50]

In January 2015, Nintendo announced its exit from the Brazilian market after four years of distributing products in the country. Nintendo cited high import duties and lack of local manufacturing operation as reasons for leaving. Nintendo continues its partnership with Juegos de Video Latinoamérica to distribute products to the rest of Latin America.[51]

On July 11, 2015, Iwata died from a bile duct tumor at the age of 55. Following his death, representative directors Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto jointly led the company on an interim basis until the appointment of Tatsumi Kimishima as Iwata's successor on September 16, 2015.[52] In addition to Kimishima's appointment, the company's management organization was also restructured—Miyamoto was named "Creative Fellow" and Takeda was named "Technology Fellow".[53]

Future: Mobile and NX[edit | edit source]

On March 17, 2015, Nintendo announced a partnership with Japanese mobile developer DeNA to produce games for smart devices.[54][55]:5The first of theseMiitomo, was released in March 2016.[56]

On the same day, Nintendo announced a new "dedicated games platform with a brand new concept" with the codename "NX" that would be further revealed in 2016.[55]:3[57] On October 16, 2015, The Wall Street Journal relayed speculation from unnamed inside sources that, although the NX hardware specifications were unknown, it may be intended to feature "industry leading" hardware specifications and include both a console and a mobile unit that could either be used with the console or taken on the road for separate use. It was also reported that Nintendo had begun distributing software development kits (SDKs) for NX to third-party developers, with the unnamed source further speculating that these moves "[suggest that] the company is on track to introduce [NX] as early as [2016]."[58] At an investor's meeting on April 27, 2016, Nintendo announced that the NX would be released worldwide in March 2017.[59]

In May 2015, Universal Parks and Resorts announced that it was partnering with Nintendo to create attractions at Universal Parks based upon Nintendo properties.[60] The following year Nintendo also expressed a desire to enter the animated film market. [61]

Products[edit | edit source]

Home consoles[edit | edit source]

Color TV-Game[edit | edit source]

Released in 1977, Japan's highest selling first generation console was Nintendo's Color TV Game, with 3 million units sold.[62]

Nintendo Entertainment System[edit | edit source]

The Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo's first major success in the home console market.

The Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated as NES) is an 8-bit video game console, which released in North America in 1985, and in Europe throughout 1986 and 1987. The console was initially released in Japan as the Family Computer (abbreviated as Famicom) in 1983. The best-selling gaming console of its time,[63]e[›] the NES helped revitalize the US video game industry following the video game crash of 1983.[64] With the NES, Nintendo introduced a now-standard business model of licensing third-party developers, authorizing them to produce and distribute titles for Nintendo's platform.[65] The NES was bundled with Super Mario Bros., one of the best-selling video games of all time, and received ports of Nintendo's most popular arcade titles.[27] As of March 31, 2014, Nintendo reports sales of 61.91 million NES hardware units and 500.01 million NES software units worldwide.[5]

Super NES[edit | edit source]

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated as the Super NES or SNES) is a 16-bit video game console, which was released in North America in 1991, and in Europe in 1992. The console was initially released in Japan in 1990 as the Super Famicom, officially adopting the colloquially abbreviated name of its predecessor. The console introduced advanced graphics and sound capabilities compared with other consoles at the time. Soon, the development of a variety of enhancement chips which were integrated onto each new game cartridge's circuit boards, progressed the SNES's competitive edge. While even crude three-dimensional graphics had previously rarely been seen on home consoles,[66] the Super NES's enhancement chips suddenly enabled a new caliber of games containing increasingly sophisticated faux 3D effects as seen in 1991's Pilotwings and 1992's Super Mario Kart. Argonaut Games developed the Super FX chip in order to replicate 3D graphics from their earlier Atari ST and Amiga Starglider series on the Super NES (more specifically, Starglider 2),[67] starting with Star Fox in 1993. The SNES is the best-selling console of the 16-bit era although having experienced a relatively late start and fierce competition from Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis console. As of March 31, 2014, Nintendo reports sales of 49.10 million SNES hardware units and 379.06 million SNES software units worldwide.[5]

Nintendo 64[edit | edit source]

The Nintendo 64, named for its 64-bit graphics, was Nintendo's first home console to feature 3D computer graphics.

The Nintendo 64 was released in 1996, featuring 3D polygon model rendering capabilities and built-in multiplayer for up to four players. The system's controller introduced the analog stick and later introduced the Rumble Pak, an accessory for the controller that produces force feedback with compatible games. Both are the first such features to have come to market for home console gaming and eventually became the de facto industry standard.[68] Announced in 1995, prior to the console's 1996 launch, the 64DD ("DD" standing for "Disk Drive") was designed to enable the development of new genre of video games[69] by way of 64 MB writable magnetic disks, video editing, and Internet connectivity. Eventually released only in Japan in 1999, the 64DD peripheral's commercial failure there resulted in only nine games being released and precluded further worldwide release.

GameCube[edit | edit source]

The GameCube was Nintendo's first home console to use optical discs as a primary storage medium.

The GameCube (officially called Nintendo GameCube, abbreviated NGC in Japan and GCN in North America) was released in 2001, in Japan and North America, and in 2002 worldwide. The sixth-generation console is the successor to the Nintendo 64 and competed with Sony's PlayStation 2, Microsoft's Xbox, and Sega's Dreamcast. The GameCube is the first Nintendo console to use optical discs as its primary storage medium.[70] The discs are similar to the miniDVD format, but the system was not designed to play standard DVDs or audio CDs. Nintendo introduced a variety of connectivity options for the GameCube. The GameCube's game library has sparse support for Internet gaming, a feature that requires the use of the aftermarket Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter. The GameCube supports connectivity to the Game Boy Advance, allowing players to access exclusive in-game features using the handheld as a second screen and controller. As of March 31, 2014, Nintendo reports sales of 21.74 million GameCube hardware units and 208.57 million GameCube software units worldwide.[5]

Wii[edit | edit source]

The Wii, Nintendo's best selling home video game console and first to use motion controls.

The Wii was released during the holiday season of 2006 worldwide. The system the Wii Remote controller, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and which detects movement in three dimensions. Another notable feature of the console is WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode.[71] It also features a game download service, called "Virtual Console", which features emulated games from past systems. Since its release, the Wii has spawned many peripheral devices, including the Wii Balance Board and Motion Plus, and has had several hardware revisions. The Wii Family Edition variant is identical to the original model, but is designed to sit horizontally and removes the GameCube compatibility. The Wii Mini is a smaller, redesigned Wii which lacks GameCube compatibility, online connectivity, the SD card slot and Wi-Fi support, and has only one USB port unlike the previous models' two.[72][73] As of March 31, 2014, Nintendo reports sales of 101.06 million Wii hardware units and 895.22 million Wii software units worldwide, making it Nintendo's best-selling home video game console.[5]

Wii U[edit | edit source]

The Wii U, Nintendo's latest home console and the successor to the Wii.

The Wii U, the successor to the Wii, was released during the holiday season of 2012 worldwide.[74][75] The Wii U is the first Nintendo console to support high-definition graphics. The Wii U's primary controller is the Wii U GamePad, which features an embedded touchscreen. Each software title may be designed to utilize this touchscreen as being supplemental to the main TV, or as the only screen for Off-TV Play. The system supports most Wii controllers and accessories, and the more classically shaped Wii U Pro Controller.[76] The system is backward compatible with Wii software and accessories; this mode also utilizes Wii-based controllers, and it optionally offers the GamePad as its primary Wii display and motion sensor bar. The console has various online services powered by Nintendo Network, including: the Nintendo eShop for online distribution of software and content; and Miiverse, a social network which can be variously integrated with games and applications. As of December 2014, worldwide Wii U sales had totaled 9.20 million hardware units and 52.87 million software units.[77]

Handheld consoles[edit | edit source]

Game & Watch[edit | edit source]

Game & Watch is a line of handheld electronic games produced by Nintendo from 1980 to 1991. Created by game designer Gunpei Yokoi, each Game & Watch features a single game to be played on an LCD screen in addition to a clock, an alarm, or both. It was the earliest Nintendo product to garner major success.[78]

Game Boy[edit | edit source]

After the success of the Game & Watch series, Yokoi developed the Game Boy handheld console, which was released in 1989. Eventually becoming the best-selling handheld of all time, the Game Boy remained dominant for more than a decade, seeing critically and commercially popular games such as Pokémon Yellow released as late as 1998 in Japan and 2000 in Europe. Incremental updates of the Game Boy, including Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light and Game Boy Color, did little to change the original formula, though the latter introduced color graphics to the Game Boy line.

The first major update to its handheld line since 1989, Game Boy Advance features improved technical specifications similar to those of the SNES. The Game Boy Advance SP was the first revision to the GBA line and introduced screen lighting and a clam shell design, while later iteration, the Game Boy Micro, brought a smaller form factor.

The Nintendo DS Lite is the best-selling handheld console of all time.

Nintendo DS[edit | edit source]

Although originally advertised as an alternative to the Game Boy Advance, the Nintendo DS replaced the Game Boy line after its initial release in 2004.[79] It was distinctive for its dual screens and a microphone, as well as a touch-sensitive lower screen. The Nintendo DS Lite brought a smaller form factor[80] while the Nintendo DSi features larger screens and two cameras,[81] and was followed by an even larger model, the Nintendo DSi XL, with a 90% bigger screen.[82]

Nintendo 3DS[edit | edit source]

Further expanding the Nintendo DS line, the Nintendo 3DS uses the process of autostereoscopy to produce a stereoscopic three-dimensional effect without glasses.[83] Released to major markets during 2011, the 3DS got off to a slow start, initially missing many key features that were promised before the system launched.[84] Partially as a result of slow sales, Nintendo stock declined in value. Subsequent price cuts and game releases helped to boost 3DS and 3DS software sales and to renew investor confidence in the company.[85] As of August 2013, the 3DS was the best selling console in the United States for four consecutive months.[86] The Nintendo 3DS XL was introduced in August 2012 and includes a 90% larger screen, a 4GB SD card and extended battery life. In August 2013, Nintendo announced the cost-reduced Nintendo 2DS, a version of the 3DS without the 3D display. It has a slate-like design as opposed to the hinged, clamshell design of its predecessors.

A hardware revision, New Nintendo 3DS, was unveiled in August 2014. It is produced in a standard-sized model and a larger XL model; both models feature upgraded processors and additional RAM, an eye-tracking sensor to improve the stability of the autostereoscopic 3D image, colored face buttons, and near-field communication support for native use of Amiibo products. The standard-sized model also features slightly larger screens, and support for faceplate accessories.[87]

Software[edit | edit source]

Organization[edit | edit source]

Marketing[edit | edit source]

Nintendo of America has engaged in several high-profile marketing campaigns to define and position its brand. One of its earliest and most enduring slogans was "Now you're playing with power!", used first to promote its Nintendo Entertainment System. It modified the slogan to include "SUPER power" for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and "PORTABLE power" for the Game Boy. Its 1994 "Play It Loud!" campaign played upon teenage rebellion and fostered an edgy reputation. During the Nintendo 64 era, the slogan was "Get N or get out." During the GameCube era, the "Who Are You?" suggested a link between the games and the players' identities. The company promoted its Nintendo DS handheld with the tagline "Touching is Good." For the Wii, they used the "Wii would like to play" slogan to promote the console with the people who tried the games including Super Mario Galaxy and Super Paper Mario. The Nintendo DS's successor, the Nintendo 3DS, used the slogan "Take a look inside". The Wii's successor, the Wii U, used the slogan "How U will play next."

Board of directors[edit | edit source]

Representative Directors
  • Shigeyuki Takahashi, General Manager of Finance Administration Division, Supervisor of General Affairs Division, In charge of Quality Assurance Department
  • Satoshi Yamato, General Manager of Marketing Division, In charge of Advertising Department
  • Susumu Tanaka, General Manager of Licensing Division
  • Shinya Takahashi, General Manager of Entertainment Planning & Development Division, Supervisor of Business Development Division and Development Administration & Support Division
  • Hirokazu Shinshi, General Manager of Manufacturing Division
Outside Directors
  • Naoki Mizutani

Other executives[edit | edit source]

  • Reggie Fils-Aimé, President and COO of Nintendo of America (NOA)
  • Satoru Shibata, President of Nintendo of Europe (NOE)

International divisions[edit | edit source]

Nintendo Co., Ltd. (NCL)[edit | edit source]

Headquartered in Kyoto, Japan since the beginning, Nintendo Co., Ltd. oversees the organization's global operations and manages Japanese operations specifically. The company's two major subsidiaries, Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe, manage operations in North America and Europe respectively. Nintendo Co., Ltd.[88] moved from its original Kyoto location[lower-alpha 1][where?] to a new office in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto,;[lower-alpha 2] in 2000, this became the research and development building when the head office relocated to its present location in Minami-ku, Kyoto.[lower-alpha 3][89]

Nintendo of America (NOA)[edit | edit source]

Nintendo's North American subsidiary is based in Redmond, Washington. Originally the NOA headquarters handled sales, marketing, and advertising. However, the office in Redwood City, California now directs those functions. The company maintains distribution centers in Atlanta (Nintendo Atlanta) and North Bend, Washington (Nintendo North Bend). The 380,000-square-foot (35,000 m2) Nintendo North Bend facility processes more than 20,000 orders a day to Nintendo customers, which include retail stores that sell Nintendo products in addition to consumers who shop Nintendo's web site.[90] Nintendo of America's Canadian branch,[91] Nintendo of Canada, Ltd. (NOCL), is based in Vancouver, British Columbia with a distribution center in Toronto, Ontario.

Nintendo of Europe (NOE)[edit | edit source]

Nintendo's European subsidiary was established in June 1990,[92] based in Großostheim,[93] close to Frankfurt, Germany. The company handles operations in Europe and South Africa.[92] Nintendo of Europe's United Kingdom branch[94] handles operations in that country and in Ireland from its headquarters in Windsor, Berkshire. In June 2014, NOE initiated a reduction and consolidation process, yielding a combined 130 layoffs: the closing of its office and warehouse, and termination of all employment, in Großostheim; and the consolidation of all of those operations into, and terminating some employment at, its Frankfurt location.[95][96]

Nintendo Australia (NAL)[edit | edit source]

Nintendo's Australian subsidiary is based in Melbourne, Victoria. It handles the publishing, distribution, sales and marketing of Nintendo products in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania (Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Vanuatu). It also manufactures some Wii games locally. Nintendo Australia is also a third-party distributor of some titles from Rising Star Games, Namco Bandai Games Europe, Atlus, The Tetris Company, Sega, Tecmo Koei Games Europe and Capcom Europe.

iQue, Ltd.[edit | edit source]

A Chinese joint venture between its founder, Wei Yen, and Nintendo, manufactures and distributes official Nintendo consoles and games for the mainland Chinese market, under the iQue brand. The product lineup for the Chinese market is considerably different from that for other markets. For example, Nintendo's only console in China is the iQue Player, a modified version of the Nintendo 64. The company has not released its more modern GameCube or Wii to the market, although a version of the Nintendo 3DS XL was released in 2012. As of 2013, it is a 100% Nintendo-owned subsidiary.[97][98]

Nintendo of Korea (NOK)[edit | edit source]

Nintendo's South Korean subsidiary was established on July 7, 2006.[99]

Logos[edit | edit source]

The history of the Nintendo logo

Research and development[edit | edit source]

Divisions[edit | edit source]

File:Nintendo EAD logo.png
Nintendo's former EAD division developed games for Nintendo's most well known franchises, such as Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda. They were integrated into the Entertainment Planning & Development division in 2015.

Nintendo's internal research and development operations are divided into three main divisions, formed after corporate restructuring in September 2015: Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development (or EPD), the main software development division of Nintendo, which focuses on internal-only video game development; Nintendo Platform Technology Development (or PTD), the main hardware development division of Nintendo, which focuses on home and handheld video game console development; and Nintendo Business Development (or NBD), which focuses on refining business strategy and is responsible for overseeing the smart device arm of the business.

Entertainment Planning & Development (EPD)
The Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development division is the primary development division at Nintendo, and a combination of Nintendo's former Entertainment Analysis & Development and Software Planning & Development divisions. Led by Shinya Takahashi, the group is the largest concentration of R&D, housing more than 800 engineers and designers. The division is primarily located in the central Kyoto R&D building, where they are overseen by Katsuya Eguchi, and also has a team in Tokyo overseen by Yoshiaki Koizumi.
Platform Technology Development (PTD)
The Nintendo Platform Technology Development division is a combination of Nintendo's former Integrated Research & Development (or IRD) and System Development (or SDD) divisions. Led by Ko Shiota, the division is responsible for designing hardware and developing Nintendo's operating systems, developer environment and internal network as well as maintenance of the Nintendo Network.
Business Development (NBD)
The Nintendo Business Development division was formed following Nintendo's foray into software development for smart devices such as mobile phones and tablets. They are responsible for refining Nintendo's business model for the dedicated video game system business, and for furthering Nintendo's venture into development for smart devices.

Subsidiaries[edit | edit source]

Although most of the Research & Development is being done in Japan, there are some R&D facilities in the United States and Europe that are focused on developing software and hardware technologies used in Nintendo products. Although they all are subsidiaries of Nintendo (and therefore first party), they are often referred to as external resources when being involved in joint development processes with Nintendo's internal developers by the Japanese personal involved. This can be seen in a variety of "Iwata asks..." interviews.[100] Nintendo Software Technology (NST) and Nintendo Technology Development (NTD) are located in Redmond, Washington, USA, while Nintendo European Research & Development (NERD) is located in Paris, France, and Nintendo Network Service Database (NSD) is located in Kyoto, Japan.

Most external first-party software development is done in Japan, since the only overseas subsidiary is Retro Studios in the United States. Although these studios are all subsidiaries of Nintendo, they are often referred to as external resources when being involved in joint development processes with Nintendo's internal developers by the Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development (EPD) division. 1-UP Studio and Nd Cube are located in Tokyo, Japan, while Monolith Soft has one studio located in Tokyo and another in Kyoto. Retro Studios is located in Austin, Texas.

Partners[edit | edit source]

Since the release of the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo has built up a large group of second-party development partners, through publishing agreements and development collaboration. Most of these external Nintendo projects are overseen by the Entertainment Planning & Development (EPD) division, formerly by the Nintendo Software Planning & Development (SPD) division.

Policy[edit | edit source]

Content guidelines[edit | edit source]

For many years, Nintendo had a policy of strict content guidelines for video games published on its consoles. Although Nintendo of Japan allowed graphic violence in its video games, nudity and sexuality were strictly prohibited. Former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi believed that if the company allowed the licensing of pornographic games, the company's image would be forever tarnished.[101] Nintendo of America went further in that games released for Nintendo consoles could not feature nudity, sexuality, profanity (including racism, sexism or slurs), blood, graphic or domestic violence, drugs, political messages or religious symbols (with the exception of widely unpracticed religions, such as the Greek Pantheon).[102] The Japanese parent company was concerned that it may be viewed as a "Japanese Invasion" by forcing Japanese community standards on North American and European children. Despite the strict guidelines, some exceptions have occurred: Bionic Commando (though swastikas were eliminated in the US version), Smash TV and Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode contained human violence, the latter also containing implied sexuality and tobacco use; River City Ransom and Taboo: The Sixth Sense contained nudity, and the latter also contained religious images, as did Castlevania II and III.

A known side effect of this policy was the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat selling over double the number of the Super NES version, mainly because Nintendo had forced publisher Acclaim to recolor the red blood to look like white sweat and replace some of the more gory graphics in its release of the game, making it less violent.[103] By contrast, Sega allowed blood and gore to remain in the Genesis version (though a code was required to unlock the gore). Nintendo allowed the Super NES version of Mortal Kombat II to ship uncensored the following year with a content warning on the packaging.[104]

In 1994 and 2003, when the ESRB and PEGI (respectively) video game ratings systems were introduced, Nintendo chose to abolish most of these policies in favor of consumers making their own choices about the content of the games they played. Today, changes to the content of games are done primarily by the game's developer or, occasionally, at the request of Nintendo. The only clear-set rule is that ESRB AO-rated games will not be licensed on Nintendo consoles in North America,[105] a practice which is also enforced by Sony and Microsoft, its two greatest competitors in the present market. Nintendo has since allowed several mature-content games to be published on its consoles, including: Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Doom and Doom 64, BMX XXX, the Resident Evil series, Killer7, the Mortal Kombat series, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, BloodRayne, Geist, Dementium: The Ward, Bayonetta 2, Devil's Third and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. Certain games have continued to be modified, however. For example, Konami was forced to remove all references to cigarettes in the 2000 Game Boy Color game Metal Gear Solid (although the previous NES version of Metal Gear and the subsequent GameCube game Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes both included such references, as did Wii title MadWorld), and maiming and blood were removed from the Nintendo 64 port of Cruis'n USA.[106] Another example is in the Game Boy Advance game Mega Man Zero 3, in which one of the bosses, called Hellbat Schilt in the Japanese and European releases, was renamed Devilbat Schilt in the North American localization. In North America releases of the Mega Man Zero games, enemies and bosses killed with a saber attack would not gush blood as they did in the Japanese versions. However, the release of the Wii has been accompanied by a number of even more controversial mature titles, such as Manhunt 2, No More Heroes, The House of the Dead: Overkill and MadWorld, the latter three of which are published exclusively for the console. The Nintendo DS also has violent games, such as Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Dementium: The Ward and its sequel, Ultimate Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.

License guidelines[edit | edit source]

Nintendo of America also had guidelines before 1993 that had to be followed by its licensees to make games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, in addition to the above content guidelines.[101] Guidelines were enforced through the 10NES lockout chip.

  • Licensees were not permitted to release the same game for a competing console until two years had passed.
  • Nintendo would decide how many cartridges would be supplied to the licensee.
  • Nintendo would decide how much space would be dedicated for articles, advertising, etc. in the Nintendo Power magazine.
  • There was a minimum number of cartridges that had to be ordered by the licensee from Nintendo.
  • There was a yearly limit of five games that a licensee may produce for a Nintendo console.[107] This rule was created to prevent market over-saturation, which had contributed to the North American video game crash of 1983.

The last rule was circumvented in a number of ways; for example, Konami, wanting to produce more games for Nintendo's consoles, formed Ultra Games and later Palcom to produce more games as a technically different publisher.[101] This disadvantaged smaller or emerging companies, as they could not afford to start additional companies. In another side effect, Square Co. (now Square Enix) executives have suggested that the price of publishing games on the Nintendo 64 along with the degree of censorship and control that Nintendo enforced over its games, most notably Final Fantasy VI, were factors in switching its focus towards Sony's PlayStation console.[citation needed]

In 1993, a class action suit was taken against Nintendo under allegations that their lockout chip enabled unfair business practices. The case was settled, with the condition that California consumers were entitled to a $3 discount coupon for a game of Nintendo's choice.[108]

Emulation[edit | edit source]

Nintendo is opposed to any third-party emulation of its video games and consoles, stating that it is the single largest threat to the intellectual property rights of video game developers.[109] However, emulators have been used by Nintendo and licensed third party companies as a means to re-release older games (through the Virtual Console). Nintendo remains the only modern console manufacturer that has not sued an emulator developer.[110]

Seal of Quality[edit | edit source]

Nintendo Seal of Quality
Seal in NTSC regions
Seal of Quality in PAL regions

The gold sunburst seal was first used by Nintendo of America, and later Nintendo of Europe. It is displayed on any game, system, or accessory licensed for use on one of its video game consoles, denoting the game has been properly approved by Nintendo. The seal is also displayed on any Nintendo-licensed merchandise, such as trading cards, game guides, or apparel, albeit with the words "Official Nintendo Licensed Product".[111]

Sid Meier in 2008 cited the Seal of Quality as one of the three most important innovations in videogame history, as it helped set a standard for game quality that protected consumers from shovelware.[112]

NTSC regions[edit | edit source]

In NTSC regions, this seal is an elliptical starburst titled "Official Nintendo Seal." Originally, for NTSC countries, the seal was a large, black and gold circular starburst. The seal read as follows: "This seal is your assurance that NINTENDO has approved and guaranteed the quality of this product." This seal was later altered in 1988: "approved and guaranteed" was changed to "evaluated and approved." In 1989, the seal became gold and white, as it currently appears, with a shortened phrase, "Official Nintendo Seal of Quality." It was changed in 2003 to read "Official Nintendo Seal."[111]

The seal currently reads:[113]

“The official seal is your assurance that this product is licensed or manufactured by Nintendo. Always look for this seal when buying video game systems, accessories, games and related products.”

PAL regions[edit | edit source]

In PAL regions, the seal is a circular starburst titled, "Original Nintendo Seal of Quality." Text near the seal in the Australian Wii manual states:

“This seal is your assurance that Nintendo has reviewed this product and that it has met our standards for excellence in workmanship, reliability and entertainment value. Always look for this seal when buying games and accessories to ensure complete compatibility with your Nintendo product.[114]

Environmental record[edit | edit source]

Nintendo has consistently been ranked last in Greenpeace's "Guide to Greener Electronics" due to Nintendo's failure to publish information.[115] Similarly, they are ranked last in the Enough Project's "Conflict Minerals Company Rankings" due to Nintendo's refusal to respond to multiple requests for information.[116]

Like many other electronics companies, Nintendo does offer a take-back recycling program which allows customers to mail in old products they no longer use; Nintendo of America claimed that it took in 548 tons of returned products in 2011, 98% of which was either reused or recycled.[117]

Trademark[edit | edit source]

During the peak of Nintendo's success in the video game industry in the 1990s, their name was ubiquitously used to refer to any video game console, regardless of the manufacturer. To prevent their trademark from becoming generic, Nintendo pushed usage of the term "games console", and succeeded in preserving their trademark.[118][119]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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External links[edit | edit source]