Game Market 1983 - Chapter 12
The market stagnation occurred as expected. I asked President Yamauchi to make the toy robot, but it would be hard to solely use that to wedge into the market…
At that moment, the taxi driver started a conversation with us, who were sitting in the back seat.
“Are you guys Japanese?”
“I’m Korean, and to my left is someone from Japan.”
“Korean? I don’t know much about Korea? But you’re saying one of you is a Japanese, right?”
“I’m the Japanese.”
As Gunpei-san answered with broken English. The taxi driver laughed and asked Gunpei-san:
“Oh~ Samurai~~!! Are the Japanese still walking around with a sword!?”
Because traveling abroad was not common in this time period, there were various misunderstandings like this in the 80s. I was a bit sad when the taxi driver said he didn’t know about Korea; however, was that to be expected when there were no world-shocking issues from Korea yet. It would be treated like a third world country, at least until the 1988 Olympics…
However, in reaction to the joke, Gunpei-san’s expression was not very good. It was as if he felt mocked; Gunpei-san retorted with his broken English:
“This is the 20th century, Japan doesn’t allow swords anymore; we’re developing as a MDC that is competing back-to-back with the U.S.”
The taxi driver laughed and replied:
“Sorry, sorry. It was just a joke. A joke. Keke.”
Gunpei-san seemed as if he had not vented his frustration, and muttered in Japanese.
“If we’re walking around with swords, is everyone in your country walking around with guns.”
Hoho, look at this middle aged man’s temper. However, it really was not a wrong statement. Just like how Americans viewed the ninja as a symbol of Japan, you would think of a horse-riding cowboy as a symbol of America. Wait, guns? Cowboy??
At that instant, a memory of a childhood game flashed inside my head like lightning. It was the first shooting game that utilized the home TV and brought endless amounts of entertainment – ‘Duck Hunt’.
This is it!!
“You want me to make you a gun?”
Gunpei-san, who was cutting the tender beef steak, stopped his knifing and asked me.
“Yes, please make me an electronic gun.”
“An electronic gun?”
Gunpei-san was looking at me with an expression as if he had just swallowed ghost meat. I had no choice but to take my notebook out and start drawing a brief sketch with my pen. Yes, showing the idea with a picture would be easier…
“It’s a gun shaped like this. Thankfully, the Family console has an external port that can connect to the wire, so we can use that. When the gun is shot towards the TV screen, the corresponding target would be hit.”
The port was originally meant to be used in times of emergencies – when the pad behind the screen malfunctioned – but we can use it for this purpose… As if Gunpei-san was hungering for more of my explanation, he put the steak dish to the side and speedily moved beside me.
“A new controller that acts as a gun is incredibly fascinating, but how would it be manufactured?”
“That’s up to you to figure out.”
The birth of a new innovation was produced when a spoonful of a brilliant idea is mixed with an engineer. In actuality, I had no idea how a target inside the TV would be affected when it’s shot from the outside. However, I definitely played this when I was younger, and this concept was invented by you in the first place, so I’m sure you would figure it out~
30 days after this episode. I was shaking hands with Gunpei-san at the international airport.
“This will be the gun that we’ll use to penetrate the American market. Gunpei-san, please give it your all when you return to Japan.”
“I was continuously thinking after I heard your explanation, Kang-kun, and I seemed to grasp the generally gist of how to go about inventing it. I will contact you immediately as soon as the electronic gun is finished. But one more thing, who will code the software for the shooting game? Should I assign it to Shigeru-kun?”
“There’s no need. Shigeru-san should currently be busy inspecting the cartridges.”
“Then who should code it? Hmm…”
“I’ll code the software here.”
“What!? You’re going to make it here?”
“I’ll just casually make it while I investigate the current market situation… I’ll send you the beta through international mail as soon as it’s finished, so you can complete the product with Shigeru-san.”
“Casually? I really can’t fathom what is going on inside your head. An overflow of out-of-the-world ideas come spewing out as soon as you open your mouth; I can’t predict you at all~”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Of course it’s a compliment. My work life is getting more and more entertaining after meeting you. Then, I’ll trouble you to assist Yamashita-kun and take care of the American market.”
After sending off Gunpei-san like that, I came out of the airport alone after a while. Then, I went directly towards the Mintendo American branch office. As I abruptly snatched the office door open, I discovered a very startled Yamashita-kun, who was pouring whiskey into a glass.
“Hey~ Can’t a person walk around more carefully?”
“You’re just an existence that sits on the table and drinks alcohol, don’t nag a busy employee on top of that.”
Yamashita-san looked at me with a ‘Did I hear wrong?’ expression.
“Do you think the gaming devices piled in the storage will go anywhere if you sit around and drink alcohol all day? You should be thinking of creating a path in any way you can.”
“Do you think I haven’t tried anything!? I can only go into advertising if there are stores are willing to stock these devices; games have become a dead industry!! The console is dead in the U.S. Even after I offered the factory price for the device, everybody still snorted!!”
“Then did you try to offer them money when they refused to stock the device?”
“I asked if you offered any money to display the devices.”
“You crazy bastard!! Why would we pay to display our products in the market?”
“If they still don’t receive our products after the discount, we can pay them money to do so. Even if we sell the devices at the lowest possible price of 14,800 Yen, barely 1800 Yen comes back to us. We didn’t come to America to make a measly 1800 Yen profit, did we? First of all, the device itself has to sell so we can produce the cartridges and earn profit. And if the public’s opinion towards gaming devices are terrible, we can just change the name saying, ‘This is not a gaming device!!’”
“What? A gaming device is a gaming device, what else would it be?”
“Mmm… M.H.E.S. or short for Mintendo Home Entertainment System. How about it?”
“Mintendo Home Entertainment System…?”
“Let’s first get rid of the title ‘Game Console’ and start anew.”
And that was how the counter attack of Mintendo’s American branch office’s MHES begin.
“Finally, Yamashita-kun is trying to make something happen. That’s right~ Now he’s like my true son-in-law.”
Your son-in-law was a loser that was addicted to alcohol and Marijuana everyday? That’s why I’m personally holding the telephone and standing here like this… I took some time to soothe my voice and answered with my calmest tone.
“With the strategy that President Yamashita developed, we are planning to counter attack the American market with the new name.”
“Good~ Good. Whether you rename it to a MHES or OYES, it’s still from Mintendo. So how are you planning to attack.”
“Thankfully, I heard the Super Marigee game that started production last week is selling like a hot cake. Congratulations, President.”
“Wahaha~ Is that all? Along with Super Marigee, Donkey Kom and the original Marigee Brothers are selling as a set!! The demand for devices doubled as well, so the factory is working at full capacity, but even that is not enough.”
“I see. The momentum seems like you’ll scrape the pockets of every Japanese.”
“Kang-kun’s analogy is excellent as expected~ Yes, I am scraping their pockets just like you said~ I’m regretting not stocking up very many products.”
“Everything’s going great~ Then take the devices stored in our American branch.”
“What did you say? Why so??”
“We can’t debut the new M.H.E.S. at the same time the old one is out, can we? I will make a brand new design for the console that would fit the American people’s’ tastes.”
“What!? Hey, you bastard. It’s a completed product already and all we have to do is start the production in a factory, but you’re changing designs??”
“President Yamauchi, you should have a tremendous amount of funds acquired from the Game & Watch’s success; you should invest at least this much if you’re targeting the American market. The current Family’s design has an extremely bad reputation amongst the Americans. Also, the design is standardized around asians, so the size is too small as well. It would be better to make it bigger and sturdier.”
“Urghh… I still feel like I’m needlessly throwing away money.”
“I haven’t disappointed you until now. If you trusted me and sent me to this place, you should provide cover fire.”
“Kaa… Alright. Then clean out the items in the American storage room and ship it over here first. We’re having a shortage of devices anyways.”
“Thank you. Ah… And one more thing. This is something President Yamashita and I decided upon together but…”
“We decided to give display fees to stores that host our Family console.”
“Display fee? What’s that?”
“Simply put, if they display our devices in their stores, we would give them remuneration depending on the location of the display. For one month, the payments for the storefronts are 1000 dollars and the back of the store would be 300 dollars.”
“What? You’re wanting to pay them just for displaying the items? Whose mouth did that crazy idea originate from?”
“Haha… Don’t get too worked up, President. We’re not asking to this forever, but just for 2 months as a type of an event. Just awhile ago, I heard from Gunpei-san that the electronic gun problem was resolved and it’s ready to go into production, the robots that I told you about last time are already completed, right?”
“Yeah, they’re completed. The electronic shooting game that you made is excellent as well. The employees are enjoying it in the rest area nowadays.”
“Then for the U.S. model, please put the toy robot and the electronic gun as a set and package it for me.”
“What? Then it would be hard to meet the unit price of 14,800 Yen.”
“That’s alright, I will price it at 199 U.S. dollars.”
“What!? You’re going to jack up the price for an item that wouldn’t even sell for 149 bucks?”
“The reason that it didn’t sell for even 149 dollars was because it didn’t get any chance to be displayed, not because of its lack of quality.”
“Hur… This is really. If it really sells for $199 a unit, it would be more than enough to cover the display fee… What to do…”
“Mmm? Stop calling me like that every time. I’m afraid for the next thing that’s going to spew out of your mouth.”
“If you send me out here with a gun, you should provide the bullets as well. Just close your eyes and shoot with a fresh resolve.”
“Euuhh… I’ll give you the money!! I’ll give it to you!! But if you fail, know that you will never step into Japanese soil ever again.”
Hur hur~ If I fail, I’ll step into Korean soil~