Hiroshi Yamauchi, without whom it is unlikely that we would have the level and degree of gaming console options we do, has died at the age of 85. The former Nintendo boss was known as the “godfather of gaming”.
Nintendo had a fairly humble beginning, manufacturing and selling cards in the 19th century, but it is for their work with games consoles that the company is best known. They have brought us the likes of the Gameboy, the Gamecube, the DS, and the Nintendo 64, and the Wii. While the Japanese technology company did have a number of less popular and even failed devices, they have long stood out as an innovative manufacturer of unique game consoles.
For more than 50 years, Hiroshi Yamauchi was at the helm and the forefront of the company. His boldness and his willingness to ignore analysts and gaming experts ensures that he leaves behind a legacy of mainstream gaming.
Nintendo actually started out as a playing card manufacturer in 1889 before developing table top games and a variety of other toys. They even expanded to become a taxi firm at one point and set up a chain of “love hotels”. However, in the 1960s Nintendo developed its first electronic devices and in the 1980s they created a series of consoles including the Nintendo Entertainment Systems (NES) and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).
Throughout his tenure as chief of the company, Yamauchi attempted to ensure that everything the company did and everything they stood for was quality and innovation rather than the most recent and highest powered technological advances.
In 1989, Nintendo released the Gameboy handheld console which saw a revolution. It was almost impossible to find gamers that weren’t playing Tetris and Mario and various iterations of the device were subsequently released. 1996 saw the release of the incredible Nintendo 64, which aimed to take on the Sony Playstation with the Gamecube following in 2001.
Although Yamauchi stepped down in 2002, his legacy lived on in the shape of the Nintendo Wii – arguably the company’s greatest success. In 2011, the 3DS was launched, representing the first 3D glasses free handheld console.
Throughout the tenure of the Godfather of Gaming, Nintendo never took on debt and all consoles were sold at a profit, rather than being sold as loss-leaders to benefit from game profits. While he may be gone, his legacy will continue to live in the console world.