Game Market 1983 - Chapter 14
“Hello… I’m sorry to say this, but our store is planning to close next month. Are you sure?”
“You’re closing your shop?? How did…”
“Actually, there has been an influx of toy shops appearing near the downtown area, so our number of customers decreased quite a bit; it’s hard to keep the store running.”
“Ah, I’m sorry to hear that… We currently haven’t made any deals with toy stores yet; can we trouble you to take a look at our items?”
“Not at all. Come on inside.”
Mr. Yamashita and I breathed a huge sigh of relief at the kind treatment that was completely opposite from Toy World. As there was no separate office, we had to demonstrate the robot and Duck Hunt at the corner of the store.
“Ah, it’s an incredibly innovative system. However, it’s… a game?”
As expected, the operation method for Duck Hunt drew quite a bit of attention, but, due to the fact that it was a game, even the owner of Toy Box was showing a hesitant expression. After all, half of the items displayed in Toy Box were abandoned cartridges from Atari.
“I love games too; however, as you can see, my store is on the verge of shutting down because I put too much trust in these Atari games. This is why I’m afraid to stock this machine.”
“We understand how you feel ten times over. However, our M.H.E.S. will not bring you the misfortune Atari did.”
I pulled out the prepared Super Marigee Brothers from my backpack. I was actually planning to take these out at Toy World when the atmosphere turned good; however, since we were kicked out, unable to showcase it, this was our first time to demonstrate it.
Because the owner of Toy Box had a high comprehension towards games, he instantly became stunned from experiencing the Side Scroll technology for the first time.
“This is truly incredible!!”
“This game is planned to go into the game center of our American branch soon.”
“Is that so. With this level of quality, I believe this game will surely be a big hit in the U.S. Especially regarding the moving background, and it’s incredible that the screen isn’t confined to a set background like the conventional arcade; this is a completely new method!!”
The Toy Box owner was enjoying Super Marigee like a kid; however, that was only for a brief moment…
“If Atari… produced a game like this, then I would be able to continue running my store…”
Droplets of moisture were glistening in his eyes as if he was regretful that he finally met Super Marigee only today. Even Mr. Yamashita was giving a pained look towards the owner of Toy Box.
“You seem to love games very much. If your store didn’t have to close down, would you be willing to take in our Mintendo’s gaming device?”
“Of course, but I don’t have the ability to run this store anymore. I also don’t have the funds necessary to stock the device.”
“Alright. Then we will support you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Mintendo will provide you with 100 free units of M.H.E.S. and we will deposit three months worth of the store rent.”
After I said that, shock flashed across Mr. Yamashita’s face, who was standing beside me, assessing the situation; he immediately started speaking to me in Japanese.
“Look here… Kang-kun. No matter how pitiful this guy is, we can’t just give him 100 units without charge!!”
However, I ignored Mr. Yamashita, continuing to explain to the Toy Box owner, who was holding the controller.
“Our Mintendo is also introducing a program where we deposit $1,000 as an incentive for displaying our devices on the display window.”
“Kang-kun!! President Yamauchi hasn’t finalized his decision on this matter yet!!”
“However, since your store is in a precarious situation, we will add to that, providing three months worth of rent as the incentive. In exchange, we will manage the display window during those three months. What do you think?”
“You’re saying that I would be able to run my store for three more months? Great! If this is possible, it’s definitely an OKAY from me.”
“Then we will immediately stock our devices in your store tomorrow. Let’s do a good job together.”
“Thank you… Thank you… Thank you very much…”
That was how the historical moment of the first ever contract for the M.H.E.S. model went down. Two weeks after that, thanks to its revolutionary gameplay, Super Marigee came over from Japan, rapidly diffusing throughout the American arcades.
“Mr. Wi-Wilson… Please grab onto that side.”
“Mr. Kang, right here?”
“Yes~!! Right there is fin… WARGHH!!!”
“Oh!! Mr. Kang!! Are you alright?”
“I… I’m fine. I’m fine. Oww…”
“You’re still vigorous because you’re young. I would’ve broken my bones if it were me~ Hahaha~”
One month had passed since Mintendo’s M.H.E.S. was being displayed at Toy Box. I was currently putting up the banner in front of the Toy Box display window. After clearing away all of the other toys on the front display, I replaced them with the M.H.E.S. model as a premium item, we put up a video of the Super Marigee gameplay, along with a model of in-game items such as item boxes and brick-shaped blocks.
At that moment, the people who were passing by shouted in exclamation as the video of Super Marigee clearing a stage was replayed.
“Woah~!! Super Marigee~!!”
A passing kid pointed at the display window TV and exclaimed as I responded with a ‘Yeahhh~!!’ Shaking my fists, the kid laughed and clapped. After hanging the banner, Mr. Wilson and I went back inside Toy Box to discover beads of sweat rolling off of Mr. Yamashita, who was organizing the items in the storage room.
“You finished organizing already? Thank you for your hard work.”
“Mr. Wilson. I’ve put in the additional 200 units.”
“Thank you. Have a drink.”
Mr. Wilson handed a drink to Mr. Yamashita, who was wiping his sweat off with a handkerchief.
“Mr. Yamashita, you could’ve asked your employees to do this instead of doing the dirty work yourself.”
“No, no. A new road is slowly opening up thanks to you, Kang-kun; I can’t just sit back by myself. I’ve grown sick of holing up in the office for the past eight months. Moving my body like this makes me feel like I’m working, so that’s good~”
Mr. Yamashita became a completely new person from when I first met him. My first impression of him was a loser, but now, he became more like a human being. I smiled as I swallowed the drink.
“Excuse me, is this store selling the M.H.E.S. displayed outside?”
“Welcome~ customer! New stock just came in, so the item is immediately available for purchase~!!”
Mr. Yamashita wasn’t the only one who had changed. Mr. Wilson contributed to the aggressive marketing strategy that, in turn, raised his sales tremendously. As he was originally a game lover, he was able to easily explain the operations to the customers. Because of him, most of the customers who entered the store directly purchased the M.H.E.S. from him.
Our initial sales were nearing almost 1,000 in this tiny store.
“Mommy, I want that pleeeeaaaase.”
Seeing this scene, I almost lost control of myself, and I nearly burst out in laughter. That was how essential Super Marigee was as a complement to every customer who purchased the M.H.E.S. Additionally, along with Duck Hunt, we were slowing burgeoning the M.H.E.S. into the market. Witnessing this boy, I started to reminisce about my childhood… If he truly loved games with his heart, he would eventually be able to become an amazing developer… That was how I started as well.
A minuscule crack.
The once frozen-solid American game industry was being drilled through the tiny cracks by the M.H.E.S. in a tiny toy shop in New York.
Mr. Wilson decided to take Duck Hunt to the streets where he offered passing pedestrians a trial. Subsequently, the people that were originally watching with interest started to grab the electronic gun, and they wildly began shooting at the screen. Duck Hunt was already popular with the kids, due to its intuitive gameplay, and it became even more-so now.
A nearby arcade that was hosting Super Marigee was packed with people lining up to play, and domestically in the U.S., Super Marigee already became the symbolic character for Mintendo. Kids became more familiar with Marigee than the home-made Popeye, and finally, stores were starting to order the M.H.E.S.
President Yamauchi originally planned to let the incentive program run for only two months, but I convinced him again to give the two month incentive to the first stores that ordered the M.H.E.S. In addition, I thoroughly explained the gameplay to the employees, and I made a manual that gave tips on marketing strategies as well.
The originally small leased office for the American branch office was moved to a more spacious office. On top of that, since I would be busy, even with 10 more bodies, I hired a secretary named Elise.
She didn’t know a lot about games, but she was capable of exporting the items and making deals with toy stores. The concept of games was a new business for this period in the first place, so not many people knew about it; I selected her because of her concise and exact responses in the interview. I also admired the look of how she was taking notes on her notepad when we were walking around the stores to assess the situation of the market.
On one day.
After we were on the way back from inspecting the market, Elise cautiously proposed a suggestion to me.
“Supervisor Kang, I feel that delivering the items to each store and letting them handle the exhibition is causing extreme inconsistencies with the display styles; I wish there was a more unified vibe. Additionally, I think some stores are taking advantage of our incentive program too. We should directly manage the display…”
“I felt that too as the number of stores increased recently. You’ve seen the details clearly, Elise.”
“If we trained the delivery men, who stocks the store with the items, to also arrange the exhibition, it would be comfortable for us, as well as the store.”
“Then wouldn’t there be discontent among the delivery men?”
“It would probably be so.”
“Not anyone can arrange the exhibit, and, even after the initial arrangements, it has to maintained; it would be good to make a separate management team.”
Thereafter, we visited the stores that were stocking our items, and we helped design the exhibit, decorated the store itself with various game characters. Due to that, good rumors were going around the toy markets.
Of course, we did have to invest a certain amount of capital at first, but, after the rumours were spread between toy stores about the incentive program and prettily decorating the store service, our business expanded and orders started flooding in.
Once the M.H.E.S. was sent out to a new store, it would sell out in an instant, like a sponge absorbing water. A new wind was blowing in the American console market that was staggered due to the Atari shock.
Rather than sitting in an office all day answering calls, I preferred walking around in casual clothes, inspecting the market. In contrast to when I first came here, it was easy to spot a M.H.E.S. unit in almost every toy store.
All except one. There was no M.H.E.S. to be found at the biggest toy store in town, “Toy World”.
“You’re still being stubborn, are you?”