Nintendo: Card Company to Multinational Corporation

Nintendo: Card Company to Multinational

Nintendo was started by Fusajiro Yamauchi in 1889 as a card company. It is fair to say the company has grown from its days of little beginnings in the 19th century to being a multinational corporation.

The rise of the company is something of an encouraging story for any up and coming company. Anyone growing up in the 90’s could easily see how big Nintendo was. They took the video gaming world by storm. It was almost a waste of time to ask any teenager what they wanted for a birthday or Christmas present. The answer very likely would be a Nintendo product. To say they dominated the video game market is a bit of an understatement; they made it their own. Nintendo was to video gaming what Apple currently is to the tablet market.

Fusajiro Yamauchi started a company called Nintendo Koppai in 1889, producing playing cards called Hanafuda Cards. These cards were hugely successful as they were at some point made out of plastic, the first of its kind in Japan. Things however took a dramatic turn sometime in 1956 when the original founder’s grandson, Hiroshi Yamauchi, now running the company visited the largest card producer on earth at the time in the United States to find out the size of their offices. Hiroshi figured that if Nintendo had a larger office it could be more profitable. He stuck a deal in 1959 with Disney to feature their characters on his cards and that was a hit. It was a smart business move tha opened the gates to a whole new range of audience. No longer were cards synonymous with just gambling, but little children could now see cards as something they could relate to.

As every success story goes, there’s a down point in the storyline, and it’s no different with Nintendo. The Tokyo Olympics in 1964 ensured a boom in the Japanese economy and Japanese people were not exactly too keen on playing cards anymore. They were considered to be a bit primitive, maybe. The company’s stocks fell from 900 yen to 60. They struggled for a good while in this harsh climate. However, things turned around for Nintendo when they hired Gunpei Yokoi as a maintenance engineer. In 1970, Yokoi created an extending arm for his personal use in the factory. This got Yamauchi’s attention and he ordered that Yokoi create it on a large scale as a Nintendo product. It was an astounding success, which got Yokoi promoted to develop toys on a regular basis. With the hiring of Shigeru Miyamoto, however, Yamauchi pulled off a master stroke forming a winning team with the pairing of Yokoi and Miyamoto.

In 1977, they released Color TV Game consoles. The Color TV Game 6 had six games and the Color TV Game 15 had 15 games on it. And, since then, they have never looked back. They released the Game Boy in 1989 with Gunpei Yokoi creating it. The Game Boy went on to become the highest selling portable game system of all time, with games such as Super Mario and Legend of Zelda enjoying huge attention and success worldwide.

Over the years, Nintendo’s inventions, such as Nintendo 64, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance; and, much more recently, The Nintendo Wii and DS have gone on to cement Nintendo’s place in history as a hugely successful and recognizable brand. A beautiful story it is. Nintendo has really risen from being a small card making company somewhere in the corner of Japan to a hugely successful multinational corporation.

By Olajide Jatto

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