Nintendo of America, Nintendo founded its North American subsidiary in 1980 as Nintendo of America (NoA). Hiroshi Yamauchi appointed his son-in-law Minoru Arakawa as president, who in turn hired his own wife and Yamauchi’s daughter Yoko Yamauchi as the first employee. The Arakawa family moved from Vancouver to select an office in Manhattan, New York. Both from extremely affluent families, their goals were set more by achievement than money—and all their seed capital and products would now also be automatically inherited from Nintendo in Japan, and their inaugural target is the existing $8 billion-per-year coin-op arcade video game market and largest entertainment industry in the US, which already outclassed movies and television combined.
In late 1980 NoA contracted the Seattle-based arcade sales and distribution company Far East Video, consisting solely of experienced arcade salespeople Ron Judy and Al Stone. The two had already built a decent reputation and a distribution network, founded specifically for the independent import and sales of games from Nintendo because the Japanese company had for years been the under-represented maverick in America.
Amid financial threat, Nintendo of America relocated from Manhattan to the Seattle metro. Arakawa’s real estate scouts found a 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) warehouse for rent containing three offices—one for Arakawa and one for Judy and Stone. This warehouse in the Tukwila suburb was owned by Mario Segale after whom the Mario character would be named, and was initially managed by former Far East Video employee Don James.
Arakawa was still panicked over NoA’s ongoing financial crisis. With the parent company having no new game ideas, he had been repeatedly pleading for Yamauchi to reassign some top talent away from existing Japanese products to develop something for America—especially to redeem the massive dead stock of Radar Scope cabinets. Since all of Nintendo’s key engineers and programmers were busy, and with NoA representing only a tiny fraction of the parent’s overall business, Yamauchi allowed only the assignment of Gunpei Yokoi’s young assistant who had no background in engineering, Shigeru Miyamoto.
NoA’s staff—except the sole young gamer Howard Phillips—were uniformly revolted at the sight of the freshman developer Miyamoto’s debut game, which they had imported in the form of emergency conversion kits for the overstock of Radar Scope cabinets. The kits transformed the cabinets into NoA’s massive windfall gain of $280 million from Miyamoto’s smash hit Donkey Kong in 1981–1983 alone. They sold 4,000 new arcade units each month in America, making the 24-year-old Phillips “the largest volume shipping manager for the entire Port of Seattle”. Arakawa used these profits to buy 27 acres in Redmond in July 1982 and to perform the $50 million launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 which revitalized the entire video game industry from its devastating 1983 crash.
The organization was reshaped nationwide in the following decades, and those core sales and marketing business functions are now directed by the office in Redwood City, California. The company’s distribution centers are Nintendo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, and Nintendo North Bend in North Bend, Washington. Nintendo of America operates two retail stores in the United States: Nintendo New York on Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, which is open to the public; and Nintendo Redmond, co-located at NoA headquarters in Redmond, Washington, which is open only to Nintendo employees and invited guests.