Leave Luck to Heaven
Nintendo’s first foray into international branding was not as successful, however. While Nintendo任天堂, sometimes translated as “leave luck to heaven,” is a very good Japanese brand name in that it references Nintendo’s origins as a playing card manufacturer in the 1800s, it caused problems internationally later on.
The Japanese name for the NES, the Famicom (ファミコン) is actually a clever play on the Japanese word for PC (パソコン pasokon) – unlike PCs, the Famicom was a computer for “family” fun.
The “Nintendo Entertainment System” was never a memorable name, which is why – when the NES was a runaway success anyway – many consumers simply started calling it and all other games consoles “the Nintendo.” This put the company at risk of losing its trademark on its own name. Nintendo’s more recent move to foreign names, such as the Nintendo Switch (任天堂スイッチ, Nintendo suichi) shows that, without effective translators, videogame localisation and brand localisation can quickly lead to a game over.
Are you thinking of localising your product but don’t know where to start? Talk to us first and benefit from our wealth of experience in localising games for Japan.