Nintendo Magic

A New Testament of Fun and Games

Nintendo Magic:

Winning the Videogame Wars

By Osamu Inoue

Business / How-To
Hardcover, 224 pages, B&W Photos, 5.5 x 8.5 inches
U.S.$19.95 / CAN$24.95

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In light of the epoch-making successes of the Wii and DS gaming systems, it’s easy to forget that only a decade ago, Nintendo—its name once synonymous with home consoles—looked like a has-been. Competing against electronics giant Sony and now software behemoth Microsoft would surely finish off a relatively puny company that prided itself on its toy-making history. Yet against all odds it was the humbler firm founded in the nineteenth century as a manufacturer of playing cards that took the lead in the latest console wars, transforming the very terrain of electronic gaming in the process. The business book for those who’d like to know how is finally here.

Despite the never-ending deluge of primers on Nintendo games, there are surprisingly few in-depth books on Nintendo the enterprise, even in its native Japan. Still headquartered in ageless Kyoto rather than bustling Tokyo, Nintendo maintains a corporate culture that discourages executives from speaking to media outside of press conferences and trade shows; unlike its peer Toyota, the NES’s originator has never felt obliged to impart its ways to rivals domestic and foreign. When leading economic weekly Nikkei Business was granted extended interviews with the company’s movers and shakers, the rare inside look resulted in a groundbreaking series of articles and, later, this indispensable volume, now translated from the Japanese and updated with a new final chapter exclusive to the U.S. edition.

If you’ve ever caught your mom or dad playing Wii Sports, you’ve seen the company’s most stunning achievement to date—selling videogames to people who would previously never touch them. In an era when faster processors and better graphics seemed to equal success, Nintendo triumphed beyond all expectations by adapting older technology and keeping its eyes on the ball: the idea of fun. Filled with sideways-thinking geniuses like Shigeru Miyamoto and run by canny executives like Satoru Iwata—all interviewed herein—Nintendo has been reinventing itself multiple times over its 120-year history, dodging failure and winning success before most of the world had electricity.

Free of jargon, full of anecdotes and quotes, Nintendo Magic: Winning the Videogame Wars will be a rewarding read for industry insiders, casual gamers, and many others.

Osamu Inoue was born in 1974 in Shizuoka Prefecture. After graduating from Keio University in 1999, he joined Nikkei Business Publications. As a reporter for Nikkei Computer, he wrote on IT currents and the web revolution. Transferred in 2004 to the flagship Nikkei Business, he experienced the auto, IT, and distribution beats. In 2009, after three years of investigative reporting on Nintendo, he was appointed staff writer for Nikkei Business Online.