Thirty-five years after the fact, it just feels like destiny that Nintendo gave the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to the United States and that it would change the video game landscape forever. However, back in 1985, precisely nobody was so certain this would occur, including at Nintendo of America. Yet there were plenty of people hustling extremely hard to make it happen. In a new episode of Ars Technica’s War Stories series on YouTube, Gail Tilden, who was Nintendo’s advertising manager in 1985 and would later launch Nintendo Power magazine, tells the story of how Nintendo tactically launched the NES in the United States.
It’s really worth it to just watch the whole video, (Watch it at 1.5x or 2x if you don’t have a lot of free time.) so I won’t even attempt to summarize it all. But Gail Tilden discusses the soft launch of the NES in New York City, with the small Nintendo of America staff setting up special cabinets on huge (for the era) TVs at strategic locations in malls and the like. She also discusses the shrewd creation of the Nintendo Seal of Quality, used to indicate that they were not selling you shovelware like Atari had been.
This War Stories episode is great stuff, so carve out some time today to listen to Gail Tilden wield this tale of the NES’s origins in America.