Codex Gamicus

Nintendo Co., Ltd. (任天堂株式会社 Nintendō Kabushiki gaisha?) is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889[1] by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards.[2] By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel.[3]

Nintendo soon developed into a video game company, becoming one of the most influential in the industry and Japan's third most valuable listed company, with a market value of over US$85 billion.[4]

Besides video games, Nintendo is also the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, a Major League Baseball team in Seattle, Washington.[5]

According to Nintendo's Touch! Generations website, the name Nintendo translated from Japanese to English means "Leave luck to Heaven".[6] However, according to the book "The History of Nintendo 1889-1980: From Playing-Cards to Game & Watch", even Hiroshi Yamauchi, the founder's grandson, doesn't know what the true meaning of Nintendo is.[7] As of October 2, 2008, Nintendo has sold over 470 million hardware units and 2.7 billion software units.[8]


As a card company (1889–1956)[]

Nintendo was founded as a card company in late 1889, originally named Nintendo Koppai. 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. Nintendo continues to manufacture playing cards in Japan[9] and organizes its own contract bridge tournament called the "Nintendo Cup".[10]

New ventures (1956–1970)[]

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 world's biggest company in his business was only using a small office. This was a turning point, when Yamauchi realized the limitations of the playing card business. He then gained access to Disney's characters and put them on the playing cards 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 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, a food company (selling instant rice, similar to instant noodles) and several other things. All of these ventures eventually failed, and after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, playing card sales dropped, leaving Nintendo with ¥60 in stocks.

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. 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.

Electronic era (since 1970)[]

Nintendo released the first solar-powered light gun, the Nintendo Beam Gun,[11] in 1970; this was the first commercially available light-gun for home use, produced in partnership with Sharp. [1] In 1972, the first commercially available video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, had a light gun accessory.[12] This was the first involvement of Nintendo in video games. According to video game historian Martin Picard: "in 1971, Nintendo had -- even before the marketing of the first home console in the United States -- an alliance with the American pioneer Magnavox to develop and produce optoelectronic guns for the Odyssey (released in 1972), since it was similar to what Nintendo was able to offer in the Japanese toy market in 1970s".[13] In 1972, Nintendo released the Ele-Conga, one of the first programmable drum machines. It could play pre-programmed rhythms from disc-shaped punch cards, which could be altered or programmed by the user, to play different patterns. [2]

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 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.

In 1974, Nintendo secured the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey video game console in Japan. In 1977, Nintendo began producing its own 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.[14] 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.[14]

In 1975, Nintendo moved into the video arcade game industry with EVR Race, designed by their first game designer, Genyo Takeda,[15] 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.

In 1980, Nintendo launched Game & Watch—a handheld video game series developed by Yokoi where each game was played on a separate device—to worldwide success. In 1983, Nintendo launched the Family Computer (commonly shortened "Famicom"), known outside Japan as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), home video game console in Japan, alongside ports of its most popular arcade titles. In 1985, the NES launched in North America, and was accompanied by Super Mario Bros., currently the second-best-selling video game of all time.[16]

In 1989, Yokoi developed the Game Boy handheld game console.

The Nintendo Entertainment System was superseded by the Super Famicom, known outside Japan as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). This was Nintendo's console of the 16-bit (4th) generation, following the Famicom of the 8-bit (3rd) generation, whose main rival was the Mega Drive/Genesis. A fierce console war between SEGA and Nintendo ensued,[17] in which the SNES was victorious.[citation needed] The SNES eventually sold 49.10 million consoles,[18] around 20 million more than the Mega Drive.

During the dominance of the Game Boy line, its creator, Yokoi, designed the Virtual Boy, a table-mounted semi-portable console featuring stereoscopic graphics. Users view games through a binocular eyepiece and control games using a gamepad. Rushed to market in 1995 to compensate for development delays with the upcoming Nintendo 64, the Virtual Boy was a commercial failure due to poor third-party support and a large price point. Amid the systems's failure, Yokoi was asked to leave Nintendo.[19]

The company's next home console, the Nintendo 64, was released in 1996 and features 3D graphics capabilities and built-in multiplayer for up to four players. The system's controller introduced the analog stick. Nintendo later introduced the Rumble Pak, an accessory for the Nintendo 64 controller that produced force feedback with compatible games. It was the first such device to come to market for home console gaming and eventually became an industry standard.[20]

The GameCube followed in 2001 and was the first Nintendo console to utilize optical disc storage instead of cartridges.[21] The most recent home console, the Wii, uses motion sensing controllers[22] and has on-board online functionality used for services such as Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and Internet Channel[23] (in contrast to GameCube's limited functionality on select games with an additional modem accessory[24]). The Wii's success, as well as the success of the DS, introduced a change in audience to broader and non-traditional demographics, a business model with which Nintendo has had success.[citation needed] Contrarily, the new business model has also resulted in some long-time gamers abandoning the Nintendo console for its competitors.[25]

Nintendo is the longest-surviving video game console manufacturer to date.[citation needed]

Handheld console history[]

After the successful Game & Watch, the handheld development continued with the Game Boy, the Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Color, with the latter two differing in fairly minor aspects. The Game Boy, the best-selling handheld and third best-selling console of all time, continued for more than a decade until the release of the Game Boy Advance, featuring improved technical specifications similar to those of the SNES. The Game Boy Advance SP, a frontlit (backlit in later editions), flip-screen version, introduced a rechargeable, built-in battery, which ended the need for AA batteries in previous consoles. The Game Boy micro was released in 2005, after the Nintendo DS's release, but did not sell as well as its predecessors.

The Nintendo DS replaced the Game Boy line sometime after its initial release in 2004, originally advertised as an alternative to the Game Boy Advance.[26] It was distinctive because it had two screens and a microphone, in a clamshell design continuing on from the Game Boy Advance SP.

The Nintendo DS Lite, a remake of the DS, improved several features of the original model, including the battery life and screen brightness. It was designed to be sleeker, more beautiful, and more aesthetically pleasing than the original, in order to appeal to a broader audience.[27]

On November 1, 2008, Nintendo released, in Japan, the Nintendo DSi, an improved version featuring larger screens, improved sound quality, an AAC music player and two cameras—one on the outside and one facing the user.[28] It was released in the USA, Europe, and Australia at the start of April, 2009. The most recent Nintendo handheld console, with an expanded screen, is the Nintendo DSi XL, which was released on November 21, 2009 in Japan and the first half of 2010 in other regions.[29]

Nintendo has also released the Nintendo 3DS, a handheld gaming system with three-dimensional graphics that don't require special headwear to view.[30] It was released in 2011. Like the Wii's controllers, the 3DS has motion sensors built into it, so it can tell which direction it is being moved in. Players can tilt and move the handheld in order to get a better view of objects on the 3D screen.[31]

Offices and locations[]

Nintendo Company, Limited (NCL) is based in Minami-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Its pre-2000 office, now its research and development building, is located in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

Nintendo of America, Incorporated (NOA), its American division, is based in Redmond, Washington. It has distribution centers in Atlanta, Georgia (Nintendo Atlanta) and North Bend, Washington (Nintendo North Bend).

Nintendo of Canada, Limited (NOCL) is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, with its distribution center in Toronto, Ontario. Nintendo Australia Pty Ltd (NAL) is based in Melbourne, Victoria. It handles the distribution, sales and marketing of Nintendo products in Australia and New Zealand. It also manufactures some of the Wii games locally. Nintendo of Europe is based in Großostheim (established in 1990),[32] Germany. iQue, Ltd., a Chinese joint venture between 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.

Software development studios[]

First-party studios[]

Second-party studios[]

Since the 1980s, Nintendo has built up a large group of second-party partners, through publishing agreements or collaboration.

Former affiliates[]

Sold to Microsoft Game Studios in 2002.[41]
Filed for bankruptcy in 2010
Publishing contract with Nintendo ended in 2004.[42]
Closed in 2009.
Bought out Nintendo's stake in the company in 2002.[43]
  • Marigul Management
Closed in 2003.



Nintendo, particularly Nintendo of America, is known for a "no tolerance" stance for emulation of its video games and consoles, stating that it is the single largest threat to the intellectual rights of video game developers.[44] Nintendo claims that copyright-like rights in mask works protect its games from the exceptions that United States copyright law otherwise provides for personal backup copies. Nintendo uses the claim that emulators running on personal computers have no use other than to play pirated video games, though a use that doesn't involve intellectual property in this way is seen in the development and testing of independently produced "homebrew" software on Nintendo's platforms. It is also claimed that Nintendo's claims contradict copyright laws, mainly that ROM image copiers are illegal (they are legal if used to dump unprotected ROM images on to a user's computer for personal use, per (a)(1) and foreign counterparts) and that emulators are illegal (if they do not use copyrighted BIOS, or use other methods to run the game, they are legal; see Console emulator for further information about the legality of emulators). This stance is largely apocryphal, however; Nintendo remains the only modern console manufacturer that has not sued an emulator manufacturer (the most public example being Sony vs. the bleem company).

Emulators have been used by Nintendo and licensed third party companies as a means to re-release older games (e.g. Virtual Console).

Content guidelines[]

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.[45] Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe 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).[46] The Japanese parent company was concerned that it may be viewed as a "Japanese Invasion" if it introduced adult content to North American and European children. U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman praised this zero tolerance policy, 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 (though swastikas were eliminated in the US version), Smash TV and Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode contained blood and 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 The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and 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 "non-violent".[47] 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.[48]

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,[49] 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, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, BloodRayne, GeistGeist 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 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.[50] 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 U.S. localization. In the U.S. 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, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.

License guidelines[]

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:[45]

  • 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.[51] This rule was made to prevent market over saturation, which caused 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.[45] This disadvantaged smaller or emerging companies, as they could not start additional companies at will.[citation needed] 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]

Seal of Quality[]

The Nintendo Seal of Quality (currently Official Nintendo Seal in NTSC regions) is a gold seal first used by Nintendo of America, and later Nintendo of Europe, displayed on any game, system, or accessory licensed for use on one of its video game consoles, denoting the game has been properly licensed by Nintendo (and, in theory, checked for quality). It is a golden starburst with the text "Original Nintendo Seal of Quality" or "Official Nintendo Seal". The starburst is circular in PAL regions, such as Europe and Australia, and elliptical for NTSC regions.

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" rather than "Official Nintendo Seal of Quality". Currently, the seal makes no guarantee of quality software, instead referring to the fact that the item is published or licensed by Nintendo.

Gamers, understandably, were wary of publishers at the time of the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, due to the market crash of 1983. The 10NES lockout chip solved the problem of unapproved games gaining access to the market, but the issue of general consumer confidence remained. Publishers were therefore encouraged to create high-quality titles - for example, with the limit of yearly output.

Environmental record[]

Greenpeace's May 2010 "Guide to Greener Electronics" report ranks Nintendo last on a list of electronics manufacturers, with a score of 1.8 out of 10 (with a trend of increase). The report cites increasing carbon dioxide emissions (failed to be reduced per target) and a lack of waste management. Limited praise focuses on satisfactory energy efficiency of the DSi's AC adapter, the reduction of PVC usage in wiring (and new chemical regulations) and the disclosure of carbon dioxide emissions.[52] Its previous score (January 2010) was 1.4,[53] at which, three days later, Nintendo issued a response that addressed primary concerns, highlighting a policy to indicate the materials used in each product, which makes end-of-life recycling of products easier.[54]

See also[]


  1. Company History (Japanese). Nintendo. Retrieved on 2006-07-29
  2. Company History. Nintendo. Retrieved on 2006-06-04
  3. Nintendo History Lesson: The Lucky Birth. N-Sider. Retrieved on 2006-06-04
  4. Reuters: Nintendo sets $85 bln high score, thanks to Wii, Nintendo DS
  5. Nintendo - Company Profile. nintendolife. Retrieved on 2010-07-12
  6. [dead link] Touch! Generations. Nintendo.
  7. "Nintendo" Might Not Mean What You Think. Kotaku.
  8. Nintendo (2008-10-02). "Nintendo's holiday 2008: Wii Speak Channel, Club Nintendo, more surprises". Press release. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  9. Nintendo's card game product. nintendo. Retrieved on 2009
  10. list of japan contract bridge league tounaments (japanese). jcbl. Retrieved on 2005
  11. History of Nintendo - Toys & Arcades (1969 - 1982) (archived), Nintendo Land
  12. The Ten Greatest Years in Gaming, Edge, June 27, 2006, Accessed Mar 1, 2009
  13. Martin Picard (December 2013), The Foundation of Geemu: A Brief History of Early Japanese video games, The International Journal of Computer Game Research 13 (2), Game Studies
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Famous Names in Gaming". CBS. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  15. Iwata Asks-Punch-Out!!. Nintendo. Retrieved on 2009-07-07
  16. Best-Selling Video Games. Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on 2006-03-17 Retrieved on 2008-01-31
  17. Kent (2001), p. 431. "Sonic was an immediate hit, and many consumers who had been loyally waiting for Super NES to arrive now decided to purchase Genesis.... The fiercest competition in the history of video games was about to begin."
  18. Consolidated Sales Transition by Region (PDF). Nintendo (2010-01-27). Retrieved on 2010-02-14
  19. Blake Snow (2007-05-04). The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time. Retrieved on 2010-06-12
  20. Buchanan, Levi (2008-04-03). IGN: Happy Birthday, Rumble Pak. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-09-12
  21. Template:Citeweb
  22. Template:Citeweb
  23. Template:Citeweb
  24. Template:Citeweb
  25. Rudden, Dave; Ashby, Alicia (2009-03-21). Hardcore Nintendo: Why the Wii isn't Just for Casual Gamers Anymore. Retrieved on 2010-06-13
  26. Nintendo Going Back to the Basics. Full story about the company offering a new system in 2004.. IGN (2003-11-13). Retrieved on 2007-10-04
  27. Rojas, Peter (2006-02-20). The Engadget Interview: Reggie Fils-Aime, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Nintendo. Engadget. Retrieved on 2009-07-24
  28. Explore Nintendo DSi. Retrieved on 2009-07-24
  29. Roberts, Dave (2010-01-14). Nintendo DSi XL to launch on March 5th. MCV. Intent Media. Retrieved on 2010-01-30
  30. Nintendo (23 March 2010). "Launch of New Portable Game Machine". Press release. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  31. Nintendo 3DS features 3D widescreen and movement sensors (2010-06-13). Retrieved on 2010-08-09
  32. Corporate - Nintendo. Retrieved on 2009-07-24
  33. NCL Team Structure work in progress. Retrieved on 2010-08-30
  41. "Microsoft buy top games producers Rare". BBC News. 2002-09-26. 
  42. Silicon Knights Splits With Nintendo. (1 January 2000). Retrieved on 2010-08-30
  43. Left Field buys out Nintendo investment. Gamespot (September 11, 2002). Retrieved on 2010-08-30
  44. Template:Citeweb
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 Game Over, David Sheff, 1993.
  46. Nintendo of America Content Guidelines
  47. Template:Citeweb
  48. Template:Citeweb
  49. Nintendo of America Customer Service – Nintendo Buyer's Guide
  50. IGN: Nintendo to censor Cruis'n (1996-10-08). Retrieved on 2009-07-24
  51. D. Sheff: "Game Over", p. 215. CyberActive Media Group, 1999.
  52. Guide to Greener Electronics - Greenpeace International. Greenpeace. Retrieved on 2010-06-11
  53. How the companies line up: 14th edition - Greenpeace International. Greenpeace. Retrieved on 2010-06-11
  54. Radd, David (January 11, 2010). Nintendo Defends Environmental Record Against Greenpeace. IndustryGamers. Retrieved on 2010-04-07


  • Kent, Steven L. (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games: The Story Behind the Craze that Touched our Lives and Changed the World. Roseville, California: Prima Publishing. ISBN 0-7615-3643-4. 

External links[]