Why Is Nintendo Ignoring Its Own 25th Birthday?

On October 18, 1985, the first Nintendo Entertainment Systems went on sale in New York City. That makes today the silver anniversary of the most important game system ever made, and fans and enthusiasts are going down the nostalgia rabbit hole as a result. But one outlet has remained conspicuously quiet: Nintendo of America.

Publicly, the company has completely ignored the milestone. Their press site's major announcement of the day details a new way to download NetFlix for the Wii. It's a weird bit of silence; their Nintendo Wii has finally begun slumping, and their other current rivals, Microsoft and Sony, are trying to steal some motion-controlled thunder this Christmas season. Why not revel in the good ol' days?

That's because the earliest days of the NES were, in truth, kinda scary. In 1985, home video games were considered a dead market. Atari, Coleco, and other companies flooded U.S. toy stores with too many bad games in the early '80s, and after their flops, nobody wanted to stock the things. To get Nintendo games into stores for that 1985 launch, the Japanese company pared down: they focused solely on New York City, and when department stores proved skittish, Nintendo's execs had to promise to buy back all unsold units.

Of course, its nefarious history makes the 25th anniversary that much sweeter; the NES's raging success made "play Nintendo" the de facto verb for the pastime, and Nintendo spent the following 25 years mining its Super Marios, Zeldas, and other '80s franchises to great effect. But if you really want to celebrate the earliest NES days, this history-lesson video tells the story better than any other on the Internet.

Presented by

Sam Machkovech is a freelance arts and tech writer based in Seattle, WA. More

Sam Machkovech is a freelance arts and tech writer based in Seattle. He began his career in high school as a nationally syndicated video games critic at the Dallas Morning News, eventually taking up the mantle of music section editor at Dallas weekly paper the Dallas Observer. His writing has since appeared in Seattle weekly The Stranger, in-flight magazine American Way, now-defunct music magazine HARP, gaming blog The Escapist, and Dallas business monthly Dallas CEO. He currently serves as a games and tech columnist for Seattle web site PubliCola.net, as well as a volunteer tutor at the all-ages writing advocacy group 826 Seattle.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

Video

Is Minneapolis the Best City in America?

No other place mixes affordability, opportunity, and wealth so well.

More in Entertainment

Just In