History Heroes Villians Accessories

1983 The Famicom is out in Japan!

They built a new production plant in Uji city. Nintendo also established Entertainment Centres Ltd. in Vancouver in B.C, Canada. Now Nintendo of America´s authorized capital was raised to 10 million dollars. In July Nintendo listed stock on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. However, the one thing that players all over the globe will associate with this year is the launch of the Family Computer (a.k.a. Famicom, or the NES as it was named when launched abroad) in Japan and sold in 500.000 copies in the first 2 months mainly because of the low price but also because it didn't had any real competitors on the market. The console was sold for around $100 ($25 more than it was intended to in the first place, still it was less than half the price of the competitors' machines). The stores didn't get any high profit by selling the machines but Yamauchi convinced them that the real profit would come with the games.

Disaster struck!

After selling good for a couple of months disaster struck just before the toy industries busiest season (the Japanese New Year). Some customers complained that some games freezed when they were played on some Famicoms. Nintendo's engineers searched like maniacs to find the fault. It was one of the chips that was malfunctioning. After having an meeting with Masayuki Uemura, Gunpei Yokoi and Hiroshi Imanishi, Yamauchi decided to recall all the systems still on the shelves sending them to their plant in Uji to have them corrected, although that it would cost Nintendo millions of dollars.

Nintendo is planning for the American release of the Famicom.

When Yamauchi saw how good the Famicom sold in Japan he started planning for the American release of the console.
However due to the video game crash that reached it's peak in early 1984, Nintendo had a difficult time releasing the system in America. During this crash the market was flooded by mediocre games and e.g. Atari games were sold for 10% of the suggested retail price. As a result the market for video games was almost dead. To prevent the same thing from happening to the NES , Nintendo planned to include (and also did) a software licensing program, the famous Nintendo Seal of Quality, so Nintendo would only license games that met their minimal standards of quality. Atari's fault was that they hadn't been able to control that the games from the third party developers were good enough. This was as a matter of fact a part of Yamauchi's plan. He knew that if Nintendo released their system when the video game market was as good as dead, there would be no competition and if successful their NES would be the only choice for gamers around the states...

The Nintendo / Atari deal

What few people know is that one of the first companies that Nintendo turned to, for help in the American launch of their console was Atari. Nintendo approached Atari, who by then had a BIG share of the American video&computer -game market. Nintendo were ready to sell Atari the rights to distribute the NES everywhere outside Japan. They were so close to an agreement that they actually planned to sign the papers on C.E.S. in June the same year.
However when Atari saw that Coleco demonstarted a (unlawful) prototype of Donkey Kong for their home computer Adam on the C.E.S. they refused to sign the deal since they assumed that Nintendo was also forging a deal with Coleco. After learning why Atari decided not to proceed the deal, Hiroshi Yamauchi called for a meeting with Arnold Greenburg, president of Coleco. When the meeting assembled, Mr. Yamauchi threatened a lawsuit against Coleco that would "leave nothing of the company".
You might speculate what would have happened if Atari hadn't seen that Donkey Kong protype and actually signed the deal. The worst case scenary would that they would just have abandoned the Famicom. This way they would have elimiated one possible oponent on the video game / home computer -market and their own 8-bit system, the Atari 7800 ProSystem with backwars compability with the current library of Atari 2600 CVS games would have had a much better chance of success...
Atari was in fact a doomed company when they were negotiating the deal with Nintendo. They were loosing the incredile amount of $2 million - Daily. The only thing that kept the already crashed company from going bankrupt was the fact that 20% of the company was owned by Wanrer Communications, which now is Time Warner.

The coin-operated game 2 player game Mario Bros is also released.

Facts and Stats.
According to figures provided by Nintendo of America, video game sales this year are $3.2 billion.
Games of importance released this year: Pinball NES , Nintendo / Mario Bros ARCADE , Nintendo




1984 The Famicom and it's games brings Nintendo more money that they had ever dreamt of!

Famicom Mania!
Nintendo earns more money this year than they had ever done before: The Famicom sells very good in Japan and Nintendo's games for the system is very coveted by the customers. The kids even camps outside stores to get their hands on the new games before they gets sold out!
Now Nintendo got another problem: They didn't have the time to develop and manufacture all the games that the players wanted. (around 1984 -85) This is when Yamauchi splited his employees into the R&D1, 2, and 3 groups and started to recruit new hand-picked designers to created games for Nintendo. He put Gunpei Yokoi in charge of the first R&D team, Masayuki Uemura for the R&D2 and Takeda Genyo in charge for the R&D3 team. Instead of making loads of pretty good games Yamauchi wanted Nintendo instead to release 2 or 3 extremely good games that would sell millions of copies. This way Nintendo spent several millions per game in advertisment etc, which was very dangerous for the company because if the game didn't sell it was just wasted money...
The big "N" Developed and started selling a unique 2 screen coin-operated games called "VS. System". and released the third game in the Donkey Kong series, Donkey Kong 3 that didn´t sold good at all and after that Nintendo stoped making Donkey Kong games. Nintendo tried desperately to get a retailer to release their NES in the US but it was hard because of the big "video game crash" earlier that year.

Facts and Stats.
According to figures provided by Nintendo of America, video game sales this year are only $2 billion, $1,2 billions less than 83!
Games of importance released this year: Punch Out Arcade , Nintendo / Excite Bike NES , Nintendo / Donkey Kong 3 ARCADE , Nintendo / Mike Tyson´s Punch Out ARCADE , Nintendo

1985 The NES is announced for a US release

On the Consumer Electronics Show in January that year the Famicom was announced to be released in the US together with 25 games. At the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in July Nintendo renames the console: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and drops the games released with the console to 20. The NES was now set to a release in the late summer (which didn´t happen). In december that year they test released the NES in the New York area only and the console sold in around 90,000 units. Super Mario Bros is released in Japan and takes the land's gamers by storm selling huge amounts of copies (world wide it has sold in 40 million copies, much thanks to that it was often sold together with the machine).

Facts and Stats.
According to figures provided by Nintendo of America, video game sales this year are $800,000,000 (compared to $3,2 billions in 1983!).
Games of importance released this year:Gauntlet NES , Tengen / Golf NES , Nintendo / Tennis NES , Nintendo / Wrecking Crew NES , Nintendo / Super Mario Bros NES , Nintendo / Arm Wrestling ARCADE, Nintendo

1986 The NES is released worldwide!

Nintendo begins shipping the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and 15 compatible cartridges to the US (The NES is launched nation-wide in the USA). They hired Worlds of Wonder (the maker of Teddy Ruxpin and Laser Tag), to help market the NES nationwide. The system outsells it's competitors ten-to-one in the states. The NES is also released in Europe this year. Nintendo also started selling the Famicom Disk System in Japan which stored the games on disks instead of cartridges. They also began installing special Nintendo Disk System vendoring machines called Disk Writers in the shops enabling them to reuse the disks. The Disk Drive was later abandoned, mainly because of the fact that it made it much easier for pirates to make illegal copies of Famicom games when they were on disks but also because no companies were making games for the format due to the horrifying licensing agrement Nintendo had for the machine.
The first of the Metroid games is released in Japan for the Disk Drive format. The game wasn´t popular at all but Nintendo decided to release it in the US and Europe anyway which was lucky for them because abroad it became a real blockbuster! The japanese SMB2 (a.k.a. Lost Levels) was also released.

Facts and Stats.
According to figures provided by Nintendo of America, video game sales this year are $100,000,000.

< Previous

Author's Top 5 E-Mail Me Links 2002 Matt Rose