2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Companies; Computer & Video games

Nintendo Company Ltd.
Type Public
TYO: 7974
Founded September 23, 1889
Headquarters Flag of Japan Kyoto
International Offices:
Flag of the United States Redmond, Washington
Flag of Canada Richmond, British Columbia
Flag of Europe Großostheim, Germany
Flag of Australia Scoresby, Victoria
Flag of the People's Republic of China Suzhou, China (as iQue, Ltd.)
Flag of South Korea Seoul, South Korea
Flag of Panama Costa del Este, Panama (as Latamel Inc.)
Flag of Liberia Monrovia, Liberia
Key people Satoru Iwata: President & CEO
Reggie Fils-Aime: President & COO of NOA
Shigeru Miyamoto: Game Designer
Gunpei Yokoi (deceased): Creator of Game Boy, Game & Watch, and Metroid
Hiroshi Yamauchi: Former President & Chairman
Minoru Arakawa & Howard Lincoln: Former heads of NOA
Satoru Shibata: President of NOE
Industry Card games (previously)
Video games
Products Game Boy line, Colour TV Game, NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, and various video game titles.
Revenue USD$8.19 billion (2007)
Employees 3,768 (2008)
Website Nintendo Japan
Nintendo of America
Nintendo of Canada
Nintendo Europe
Nintendo Australia

Nintendo Company Ltd. (任天堂株式会社 Nintendō Kabushiki-kaisha ?) is a multinational corporation headquartered in Kyoto, Japan founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce handmade hanafuda cards. In the mid-twentieth century, the company tried several small niche businesses, such as a love hotel and a taxi company. Over time, it became a video game company, growing into one of the most powerful in the industry and Japan’s third most valuable listed company with a market value of more than US$85 billion. Aside from video games, Nintendo is also the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, a Major League Baseball team in Seattle, Washington.

In 2008 Nintendo was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for pioneering the development of handheld games with its Nintendo DS system, and for the unique user interface of the Wii.

Name origin

According to Nintendo's Touch Generations website the name "Nintendo" translated from Japanese to English means "Leave luck to heaven."


Nintendo Poster from late Meiji Era.
Nintendo Poster from late Meiji Era.
Former headquarter plate from when Nintendo was solely a playing card company.
Former headquarter plate from when Nintendo was solely a playing card company.

As a card company (1889 – 1956)

Nintendo started as a small Japanese business by Fusajiro Yamauchi near the end of 1889 as Nintendo Koppai. Based in Kyoto, Japan, the business produced and marketed a playing card game called Hanafuda. The handmade cards soon began to gain popularity, and Yamauchi had to hire assistants to mass produce cards to keep up with the demand.

New Ventures (1956 – 1975)

In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi paid a visit to the US, to engage in talks with the United States Playing Card Company, the dominant playing card manufacturer in the US. Yamauchi was shocked to find that the world’s biggest company in his business was relegated to using a small office. This was a turning point where Yamauchi realized the limitations of the playing card business. He then gained access to Disney’s characters and put them on the playing cards, in order to drive sales.

In 1963, Yamauchi renamed Nintendo Playing Card Company Limited to Nintendo Company, Limited. The company then began to experiment in other areas of business using the newly injected capital. During this period of time between 1963 and 1968, Nintendo set up a taxi company, a " love hotel" chain, a TV network and a food company (trying to sell instant rice, similar to instant noodles). All these ventures eventually failed, and after the Tokyo Olympics, playing card sales dropped, leaving Nintendo with 60 yen in stocks.

In 1966, Nintendo moved into the Japanese toy industry with the Ultra Hand, an extending arm developed by maintenance engineer Gunpei Yokoi in his free time. The Ultra Hand was a huge success, selling approximately 1.3 million units. Gunpei 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. Despite some successful products, Nintendo struggled to meet the fast development and manufacturing turnaround required of the toy market, and fell behind the well-established companies such as Bandai and Tomy.

In 1973, the focus shifted to family entertainment venues with the Laser Clay Shooting System, using the same light gun technology used in their Kousenjuu series of toys, and set up in abandoned bowling alleys. Following some success, Nintendo developed several more light gun machines 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.

Electronic Era (1975 – Present)

In 1974, Nintendo secured the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey home video game system in Japan. In 1977, Nintendo began to produce their own Colour TV Game home video game systems. Four of these systems were produced, each playing variations on a single game (for example, Colour TV Game 6 featured 6 versions of Light Tennis).

A student product developer, Shigeru Miyamoto, was hired to Nintendo at around this time. He worked under Gunpei Yokoi and one of his first tasks was to design the casing for several of the Colour TV Game systems. Shigeru Miyamoto went on to create some of Nintendo's most famous video games and become one of the most recognizable faces in the video game industry.

In 1978, Nintendo moved into the video arcade game industry with Computer Othello, and several more titles followed. Nintendo had some small success with this venture, but it wasn't until 1981 with the release of Donkey Kong, designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, that Nintendo's fortunes changes dramatically. The massive success of the game and many licensing opportunities (ports were released on the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and ColecoVision) gave Nintendo a huge boost in profit.

In 1980, Nintendo launched its handheld video game series, the Game & Watch, developed by Gunpei Yokoi. The pocket-sized games were a worldwide success.

In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer home video game system in Japan alongside ports of its most popular arcade titles. In 1985 the system launched in North America as the Nintendo Entertainment System, and was accompanied by Super Mario Bros., which remains one of the biggest selling video games of all time. In 1989, Gunpei Yokoi developed the Game Boy handheld video game system. Nintendo is the longest-surviving video game console manufacturer to date, and has produced the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Colour, Pokémon Mini and Virtual Boy systems.

Nintendo’s current video game systems are the Nintendo DS Lite and Wii. The Game Boy Advance and Nintendo GameCube are still somewhat prevalent but no longer produced in some countries.


  • Now you're playing with power! (19861992)*
  • Have you had your fun today? (19911992)
  • The best play here! (19921994)
  • Play it loud! (19941996)
  • Change the system. (1996-1997)
  • Get N or get out! (in reference to the Nintendo 64) (19962000)
  • Born to play (Nintendo GameCube) (2002)
  • Who are you? (accompanied photos of civilians with Nintendo character faces pasted over) (2002 2005)
  • Too much fun! (in reference to all Nintendo products) (20022004)
  • Touching is good. (Nintendo DS) (2004 present) **
  • Touch Me (Nintendo DS) ( 2005– 2006)
  • Wii would like to play. (Wii) ( 2006– present)

* Variations of this slogan were sometimes used. In Game Boy game commercials, it would read "Now you're playing with power...Portable power!" For Super NES, it would be "Now you're playing with power...Super power!"

** Since the release of the Nintendo DS Lite in North America, this slogan has not been used for DS games.

Gaming systems

Offices and locations

The exterior of Nintendo’s main headquarters in Kyoto, Japan.
The exterior of Nintendo’s main headquarters in Kyoto, Japan.

Nintendo Company, Limited (NCL), the main branch of the company, is based in Minami-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan (). Nintendo of America (NOA), its American division, is based in Redmond, Washington. It has distribution centers in Atlanta, Georgia, and North Bend, Washington. Nintendo of Canada (NoC) is based in Richmond, British Columbia, with its own distribution centre in Toronto, Ontario. Nintendo Australia, its Australian division, is based in Melbourne, Victoria, and Nintendo of Europe, the European division, is based in Großostheim, Germany. iQue, Ltd., a Chinese joint venture with its founder, Doctor Wei Yen, and Nintendo, manufactures and distributes official Nintendo consoles and games for the mainland Chinese market, under the iQue brand. Nintendo also established Nintendo of Korea (NoK) on July 7, 2006.

Nintendo policy


Nintendo is known for a "no tolerance" stance against emulation of its video games and consoles. It claims that mask work copyright protects its games from the exceptions that United States copyright law otherwise provides for backup copies. Nintendo uses the claim that emulators running on personal computers have no use other than to play pirated video games, contested by some who say these emulators have been used to develop and test independently produced "homebrew" software on Nintendo's platforms, and that Nintendo's efforts fudge the truth about copyright laws, mainly that ROM image copiers are illegal (they actually are legal if used to dump unprotected ROM images on to a user's computer for personal use,) and that emulators are illegal (if they do not use copyrighted BIOS, or use other methods to run the game, they are legal). This stance is largely apocryphal, however; Nintendo remains the only modern console manufacturer which has not sued an emulator manufacturer (the most public example being Sony vs. the bleem company).

The revival of the NES and SNES through emulation has gradually settled down, and NES and SNES ROMs are actually getting easier to find. A common justification pirates try to make is that they believe the pirated games will never see the light of day again and because the titles are no longer on sale, no damage is done to the company. However, Nintendo's opposition remains, due largely to its tendency to re-release old games within new ones, as with Animal Crossing, Metroid Prime, and The Legend of Zelda Collector's Edition, as well as with the re-release of many older games for the Game Boy Advance Classic NES Series. The enhanced remake idea sometimes, but not always, curbs the need for emulation of NES quality games on the Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo's Wii is backwards compatible, allowing users to play GameCube game discs on the console. The system also allows for the downloading of NES, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, and Turbo Grafx-16 games onto the console over the Internet, with them being playable on the console which may actually be achieved through emulation. With this new feature, called the " Virtual Console", Nintendo may be able to reduce the illegal ROM downloading and open up a new revenue stream. On June 1, 2007, Nintendo of America announced that more than 4.7 million Virtual Console games had been downloaded, at a rate of more than 1,000 titles an hour.

Content guidelines

For many years, Nintendo had a policy of strict content guidelines for video games published on its systems. Though Nintendo Japan allowed graphic violence in their video games, nudity and sexuality were strictly prohibited. This was because Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi believed that if the company allowed the licensing of pornographic games, the company's image would be forever tarnished. Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe went further in that games released for Nintendo systems could not feature nudity, sexuality, profanity (including sexism or slurs), blood, graphic or domestic violence, drugs, political messages, or religious symbols (with the exception of ancient religions such as the Greek gods). This was done because the Japanese parent company did not want to appear as a "Japanese Invasion" by enforcing Japanese community standards on North American and European children. This zero tolerance policy was praised and championed by U.S. Senator and one-time vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, but others criticized the policy, claiming that gamers should be allowed to choose the content they want to see. Despite the strict guidelines, some exceptions have occurred: Bionic Commando, Smash TV and Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode contained blood and violence, the latter also contained implied sexuality and tobacco use; River City Ransom and Taboo: The Sixth Sense contained nudity, and the latter also contained religious images.

One known side effect of this policy was the Sega Genesis version of Mortal Kombat selling over double the number of the Nintendo's Super NES version, mainly because Nintendo had forced Acclaim to recolor the red blood to look like white sweat and replace some of the more gory attacks in its release of the game, unlike Sega, which allowed the selling points of blood and gore to remain in the Genesis version (though the Genesis version of the game required a code to unlock the gore). Nintendo allowed the Super NES version Mortal Kombat II to ship uncensored the following year with a content warning on the packaging.

In 1994, when the ESRB video game ratings system was introduced, Nintendo chose to abolish some of these policies in favour 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 licenced for play on Nintendo systems in North America. Nintendo has since allowed several mature-content games to be published on its systems, including (but not limited to): Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Doom and Doom 64, BMX XXX, certain games in the Resident Evil series, Killer 7, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Geist, and Dementium: The Ward. Certain games have continued to be modified, however. For example, Konami was forced to remove all references to cigarettes in the 2000 Game Boy Colour game Metal Gear Solid and maimings and blood were removed from the Nintendo 64 port of Cruis'n USA. Another example is in the Game Boy Advance game Mega Man Zero 3, where one of the bosses, Hellbat Schilt in the Japanese and European releases, was renamed Devilbat Schilt in the U.S. localization.

License guidelines

Nintendo also had guidelines for its licenses in order for them to create games for Nintendo systems, in addition to the above content guidelines:

  • Licenses were not permitted to release the same game for a competing system until two years had passed.
  • There was a minimum number of cartridges which had to be ordered by the license from Nintendo.
  • 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 Nintendo Power.
  • There was a set limit of five games that a licensee may produce for a Nintendo system. This rule was made due to caution of over saturation which caused the Video Game Crash of 1983.

Konami wished to produce more games for Nintendo systems yet the last rule restricted them. As a result, Konami formed Ultra Games in order to produce double the amount of games. This was a disadvantage to smaller or beginning companies, as they could not form additional companies at will. Also, Square (now Square Enix) executives have suggested that the price of publishing games on the Nintendo 64 along with the degree of censorship and control Nintendo enforced over its games — most notably Final Fantasy VI — were factors in moving its games to Sony's PlayStation console.

Public relations

For years and to today, Nintendo has been regarded as a secretive company by the press. Rarely does Nintendo confirm or deny rumors.

In this vein, Nintendo is famous for unveiling products at the Electronic Entertainment Expo ( E³) in Los Angeles every year. The Nintendo DS and Wii, as well as a number of software titles, were unveiled at the expo. The Wii controller, which had been shrouded in secrecy, was revealed on September 16, 2005 at the Tokyo Game Show (TGS).

Nintendo of America uses an outside firm, Golin Harris, to handle much of its public relations. Beth Llewelyn is the in-house senior director of public relations at Nintendo of America. Tom Harlin is Nintendo of America's manager of public relations. Nintendo of Europe also uses an outside firm, Cake Media, to handle much of its public relations.

Nintendo of Europe's Managing Diector of Marketing recently courted controversy when, quizzed about the lack of a Wii hard-drive and limited memory onboard in one of the UK's leading gaming magazines 'Edge' (issue 190), he replied that only "geeks and otaku" would be people who would need one.

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