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Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Type Public
TYO: 7974
Osaka SE: 7974
Industry Card games (previously)
Video games
Founded September 23, 1889

Original office
Kyoto, Japan

International offices:
Redmond, Washington, United States
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada
Großostheim, Germany
Scoresby, Victoria, Australia
Suzhou, PRC (as iQue, Ltd.)
Seoul, South Korea
Costa del Este, Panama (as Latamel Inc.)
São Paulo, Brazil (as Latamel Inc.)
Taiwan, ROC (via Nintendo Co., Ltd. and Haku Yu)
Key people Satoru Iwata: President and CEO
Reggie Fils-Aimé: President and COO of NOA
Shigeru Miyamoto: Game Designer
Conrad Abbott: President of NOC
Rose Lappin: Managing Director of Nintendo Australia
Gunpei Yokoi (deceased): Creator of Game Boy, Game & Watch and Metroid video game series
Hiroshi Yamauchi: Former President and Chairman
Minoru Arakawa: Former head of NOA
Satoru Shibata: President of NOE Satoshi Tajiri: Creator of the Pokémon franchise
Products Game Boy line, Colour TV Game, NES, SNES, Virtual Boy, Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii and various video games
Revenue Increase ¥1.43 trillion (2010)
Operating income Increase ¥555.263 billion (2009)
Net income Increase ¥229 billion (2010)
Total assets Increase ¥1.8 trillion (2009)
Employees 4,130 (2009)
Website Nintendo Japan
Nintendo of America
Nintendo of Canada
Nintendo of Europe
Nintendo Australia
Nintendo Phuten
Nintendo of Korea

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 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel.

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.

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

According to Nintendo's Touch! Generations website, the name "Nintendo" translated from Japanese to English means "Leave luck to Heaven". As of October 2, 2008, Nintendo has sold over 470 million hardware units and 2.7 billion software units.


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

As a card company (since 1889)

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 and organizes its own contract bridge tournament called the "Nintendo Cup".

New ventures (1956–1975)

In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi (grandson of Fusajiro Yamauchi and current president of Nintendo) 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.

The Nintendo Love Tester

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 and a food company (selling instant rice, similar to instant noodles). 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.

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.

Electronic era (since 1975)

In 1974, Nintendo secured the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey home 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, Colour TV Game 6 featured six versions of Light Tennis).

A student product developer named Shigeru Miyamoto, was hired by Nintendo at this time. He worked for Yokoi, and one of his first tasks was to design the casing for several of the Colour 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.

In 1975, Nintendo moved into the video arcade game industry with EVR Race, designed by their first game designer, Genyo Takeda, 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 and notable for the fact that 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 console launched in North America as the Nintendo Entertainment System, and was accompanied by Super Mario Bros., currently the second-best-selling video game of all time. In 1989, Yokoi developed the Game Boy handheld game console. Nintendo is the longest-surviving video game console manufacturer to date.

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 Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. A fierce console war ensued, in which the SNES was victorious. The SNES eventually sold 49.10 million consoles, around 20 million more than the Mega Drive.

The next home console, the Nintendo 64, most notable for its 3D graphics capabilities, introduced the analog stick and built-in multiplayer for up to four players, instead of two. It also introduced the Rumble Pak, an enhancement that produced force feedback, which was the first such device in the history of home console gaming, and has become an industry standard.

The Nintendo GameCube followed, and was the first Nintendo console to utilise optical disc storage instead of cartridges. The most recent home console, the Wii, uses motion sensing controllers and has online functionality (although the GameCube did also have some basic online capabilities), used for services such as Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, Virtual Console and WiiWare. The Wii (and DS, to a lesser extent) is notable for the change of demographic it introduced to Nintendo, and the Nintendo's recent success due to this model.

Handheld console history

After the Game & Watch, the handheld development continued with the Game Boy, the Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Colour, with the latter two differing in fairly minor aspects. The Game Boy, the best-selling handheld and second best-selling console of all time, continued for more than a decade until the release of the Game Boy Advance, featuring technical specifications similar to those of the SNES. The Game Boy Advance SP, a frontlit, flip-screen version, introduced a rechargeable, built-in battery, instead of using AA batteries like its predecessors. 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. 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. 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. It was released in the USA, Europe, and Australia at the start of April, 2009.

The most recent Nintendo handheld console is the Nintendo DSi XL, which was released on November 21, 2009 in Japan and the first half of 2010 in other regions.

Offices and locations

The exterior of Nintendo's main headquarters in Kyoto, Japan
The Nintendo of America headquarters in Redmond, Washington

Nintendo Company, Limited (NCL) is based in Minami-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan ( 34°58′11.89″N 135°45′22.33″E). Its pre-2000 office, now its research and development building, is located in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan ( 34°58′29.00″N 135°46′10.48″E). Its original Kyoto headquarters can still be found at ( 34°59′30.03″N 135°45′58.66″E).

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, BC, with its distribution centre 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), 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.



Nintendo is known for a "no tolerance" stance against emulation of its video games and consoles, stating that it is the single largest threat to the intellectual rights of video game developers. It claims that copyright-like rights in mask works protect 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, 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 17 U.S.C.  § 117(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 which 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. 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). 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, 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 Sega 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. 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.

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 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 licensed on Nintendo consoles in North America, 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, 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 (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. 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 its own 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:

  • 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. 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 many ways; for example, Konami, wanting to produce more games for Nintendo's consoles, formed both Ultra Games and, later, Palcom to produce more games (as a different publish). This disadvantaged smaller or emerging companies, as they could not start additional companies at will. 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 its switch of focus Sony's PlayStation console.

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 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.

Fan culture

Nintendo features numerous intellectual properties (IPs) that are held in high esteem by many fans of the company. These properties, especially game series, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Pokémon, have spawned a plethora of fan-made projects, ranging from art to highly detailed independent video games.

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