Nintendo Australia Pty. Ltd. (NAL) is Oceania's local head office for sales, licensing and distribution of video game products and other intellectual properties created by Nintendo and other companies. It is headquartered in Scoresby, Victoria, was established in 1993, and is a private company wholly owned by Nintendo Co., Ltd. in Japan. Prior distribution of Nintendo products inside Australia had been handled by Mattel. The company was originally jointly managed by Susumu Tanaka of Nintendo UK and Graham Kerry who worked prior as the general Manager of Mattel. It is currently managed by Tom Enoki, who took over from Yuji Bando in 2014, who had succeeded Rose Lappin as Managing Director in March 2010. Rose Lappin had worked for Nintendo since the early 1990s when Nintendo's products were distributed in Australia by Mattel. General Manager of Nintendo UK, David Yarnton was Nintendo Australia's Director of Sales & Marketing from March 1995 to September 2003. Aside from distributing its own products, the company also distributes some games for its systems by developers including Capcom and Atlus.
Nintendo Australia distributes Nintendo's products to most of the Oceanic region. Distribution of Nintendo's products in New Zealand was handled by Monaco Corporation Ltd, then Softprint Interactive Ltd, until Softprint went into bankruptcy. There was a major delay of Nintendo Australia's products in New Zealand after Softprint's bankruptcy until Nintendo Australia took over marketing and distribution of their products in New Zealand in the middle of 2008. Nintendo Australia then heavily marketed the DS and Wii in New Zealand throughout September and October 2008.
Nintendo Australia also acts as the Australian office for The Pokémon Company and handles licensing and marketing for the Pokémon products and also handles licensing of Nintendo's other IPs to Toy Companies like Takara Tomy. Nintendo Australia handles all licensing of the Pokémon anime, and has given the Australian distribution rights to Beyond International. Former distributors were Siren Entertainment, Magna Pacific and Shock. As of 2019, TPCi appointed Haven Global as its licensor for the Oceanian region but it’s unknown where Nintendo Australia would stop licensing the brand.
Nintendo Australia markets their games though mass media, magazines and the internet, and has the Australian version of the monthly magazine, Official Nintendo Magazine. Before 2011, Nintendo advertised heavily on busses and billboards, however they now focus their efforts on digital advertising, playing several ads on TV and in cinemas and placing internet banners on popular websites, although they continue to employ physical advertising. They created a YouTube channel in late 2011, initially to promote The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Nintendo Australia will often create their own ads but also re-use some from other regions as well.
Originally, marketing of Nintendo's products in Australia had been very relaxed, but picked up considerably since Rose Lappin was named Managing Director of Nintendo Australia.
Before 2014, Nintendo Australia did not produce their own Nintendo Directs, instead broadcasting European Nintendo Directs on their website, which are sometimes slightly modified to adhere to classifications and other regional differences.
In 2014, Nintendo produced the first Nintendo Direct Australia, and also created official Twitter and Facebook accounts. Australia's first region-specific Nintendo Direct also happens to announce the New Nintendo 3DS hardware, being the first after Japan, and releasing the New iteration roughly three months before North America and Europe.
Exclusive hardware and games
Over the years a few games have been released far earlier than in Europe, such as 1080° Snowboarding (which was released in March 1998 while Europe waited until December), Animal Crossing was also released nearly a year ahead of Europe (though it arrived in Australia over a year after North America). The Australian version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time contained a gold cartridge, though the European version did not. The Game Boy Color had a custom shell featuring the Australian flag and the Game Boy Advance SP received a model that had branding by Rip Curl. An All Blacks SP was also released and for a limited time only Toys R Us was selling a limited edition "Gold" coloured Game Boy Advance SP which was only available to Australia.
Games that were distributed in Australia but not in North America or Japan include Super International Cricket. Nintendo Australia have the Nintendo rights to some games from Capcom and has most of the rights to new games from Atlus for the Wii and DS. Nintendo Australia has been publishing the Harvest Moon games on Nintendo consoles since the late 1990s.
Nintendo Australia also published several games which originally had no North American release, such as Xenoblade Chronicles with a special soundtrack CD, which contributed to the foundation of Operation Rainfall.
Australia and New Zealand were the first countries outside Japan to receive the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL, on 21 November 2014, with no plans to release the systems in North America and Europe in 2014.
Community and charity
Nintendo Australia is an active and longstanding sponsor of the Starlight Children's Foundation, providing Nintendo consoles and games that can be wheeled to a child’s bedside while they are in hospital. Nintendo characters and games gurus also visit children’s hospitals nationally. One significant event jointly hosted by Nintendo, Nintendo Magazine System and Brashs was the Super Nintendo international challenge.
Nintendo also donates product to various sporting, leisure, not-for-profit and youth organisations nationally.
Since the Nintendo DS was released in 2005, Nintendo and Telstra, which was then a part of the Australian Government (Now only hold a 49% stake), announced that they had become partners and that Telstra would put Wireless hotspots in every McDonald's restaurant in Australia (except food courts) and would have DS Game Demos available for download in every restaurant. This service has since been discontinued.
During the publication of Nintendo Magazine System (1993 until 2000), Nintendo ran party tours in conjunction with Toys "R" Us. These events were only promoted in Nintendo Magazine System and happened every two to three years.
Each year since 1999 Nintendo stages free national tours involving live character appearances, stage shows, Nintendo challenges, product giveaways and competitions. To date Nintendo’s Pokémon Tours have been the country's biggest free, shopping centre activities ever, including Pokémon Mew Tour in 1999, Pokémon Stadium 2000 and Pokémon Celebi Tour in 2001. Nintendo Australia also hosted the world’s biggest Pokémon event in Sydney in 2000, including the global Pokémon Stadium Championship.
In January 2006, Nintendo held the Nintendo DS Connection Tour '06 and visited 4 states; New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. Another Connection Tour was held during June/July 2006 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nintendo's mascot and most famous character, "Mario". During this tour, they visited four states including Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. In September/October later that year Nintendo hosted the Pokémon 10th Anniversary - Journey Across Oz tour. This tour was held in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. A number of Toys R Us stores also held events, in the states mentioned before, and South Australia. In November Nintendo Australia hosted a National Play Wii Event allowing potential Wii customers and non gamers to try Nintendo's newest console (Nintendo Wii) just over a month before it was released across Australia on 7 December. Games playable included Wii Sports, Wii Play, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Excite Truck and many more. However, some states were limited to Wii Play, Wii Sports, Twilight Princess and WarioWare: Smooth Moves.
In June/July 2007, Nintendo Australia held the Nintendo DS Connection Tour '07. The main focus was on the newest Pokémon games: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The tour visited five states: Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia. In September/October, Nintendo Australia held a Nintendo Wii tour called Big Games for Big Brains. The tour was to promote Big Brain Academy Wii. The tour went to five states: South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales.
In January 2008, Nintendo Australia announced that they would sponsor the 2008 Australian Open as the official gaming console. Because of that sponsorship, Nintendo Australia held a Nintendo Wii competition called Wii Championships. The winner got to play Mark Philippoussis. There was also a lounge to relax and play Sight Training. Nintendo Australia announced in mid-2008 that it would open an Australian Nintendo World Centre in Melbourne in the near future and opening stores in Sydney and Brisbane is a possibility. In November Nintendo Australia and EB Games Australia announced "The Nintendo Experience", which is essentially a demonstration of what Nintendo has to offer. It was held at EB Games' Swanston Street store, and EB Games has hinted that it is looking at doing the same thing in Brisbane and certain stores on Queensland's East Coast since EB Games Australia's headquarters are in Brisbane. Nintendo Australia ran a competition for 15 VIPs to attend on its opening night. Rose Lappin announced that Club Nintendo Australia would launch at Christmas or Q1 2009.
In October 2009, Nintendo Australia officially opened "The Nintendo Connection" at Myer in Sydney. This is the first Australian Nintendo centre to be located outside Victoria. This will be the place to hold Nintendo events at Sydney.
In June/July 2010, Nintendo Australia held the 'Nintendo Connect10n Tour'. The main focus was on the Mario series games, in particular Super Mario Galaxy 2 where players could play the game before it was released (in Queensland only, the rest of Australia was done after the release date). The tour visited five states: Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia. Also, New Zealand was part of the tour. In addition, at each of the Connection Tour sites, the New Super Mario Bros. Wii Coin Challenge took place where the winning solo player and the winning tag team at each site competed against each other at the National Final held in Sydney. The winners at the National Final won flights and accommodation to New York to visit the Nintendo World Store and $1,000 spending money.
In September 2011, Nintendo Australia held the Nintendo Connection Tour 2011, similar to the 2010 event, in which the main focus was The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, with a demo version available, along with demo versions of other upcoming games and already released games. The tour went around to each state at selected Westfield stores.
In October 2012, Nintendo Australia was one of the exhibitors at the 2012 EB Expo in Sydney. The main focus was the Wii U where players got a chance to demo games that'll be released on the Wii U including Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U and Pokémon Black and White 2 on the Nintendo 3DS. In November Nintendo Australia ran a 'Wii U Experience' tour. Nintendo opened Wii U Experience Stores in New South Wales and Victoria, and pop-ups in Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia. The tour highlighted several key Wii U launch titles to the public, including Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and ZombiU. Nintendo 3DS XLs were also featured.
Nintendo has been an exhibitor at all PAX Australia conventions to date, and has also taken part in Comic Con and Supanova expos. Nintendo continues to attend the EB Games Expo each October showcasing their end of year line-up.
Distribution deals with 3rd parties
- Capcom (Resident Evil, Mega Man and Ace Attorney series, up to Resident Evil: Revelations, Mega Man Xtreme 2 and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney respectively)
- Atlus (Trauma Center series)
- Rising Star Games (Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons main series only)
- Natsume (Harvest Moon and Legend of the River King series except Harvest Fishing)
- Namco (Back catalogue up to 2007)
- Sega (Back catalogue 2005-2006 and Sega games published by NOE)
- Enix (All Nintendo games by Enix were localised and published by Nintendo Australia until the Square Enix merger)
- The Tetris Company (Owns Australian rights to all Tetris games on Nintendo consoles)
Countries which Nintendo Australia distributes to
- New Zealand
- Cook Islands
- New Caledonia (Distributes Nintendo Australia and French NOE releases)
- Papua New Guinea
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Nintendo Australia has sold over 12 million video games, over 2.5 million Game Boys and over 2 million consoles by 1999 including over half a million Nintendo 64 consoles and 162,936 GameCubes to the third quarter of 2006. The Wii has sold over 2 million as of November 2010 and the Nintendo DS has sold over 3 million units to December 2010 making the system the best selling console in Australia for six years in a row. The Nintendo 3DS 200,000 in its first 37 weeks and Tom Enoki announced in September 2014 that over 700,000 units have been sold in Australia.
More than 3 million Game Boy Color games were sold in Australia. Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus balance board bundles reached 1 million (excluding standalone copies of Wii Fit Plus), Wii Play 900,000, Mario Kart Wii 600,000 and Wii Sports Resort over 500,000 in 2010. The Pokémon video games have sold over 2 million copies including over 330,000 for Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and Pokémon X and Y while Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire sold 120,000 in its first week across Australia and New Zealand making it Nintendo Australia's largest video game launch.
Only on rare occasions has Nintendo ever attempted localisations for video games for the Australian market nowadays after Seiji Tsukasa's reign over NAL. Before 2001, all Natsume, Enix, Kemco and Capcom developed for Nintendo's consoles had Australian localisations, most of the time choosing to be in line with North American releases instead of PAL Region releases for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo 64. Before 2001, Nintendo Australia localised some of its first party releases e.g. the Game Boy Gallery, Mario's Picross and Mario Kart 64.
Although most games use European localisations, some Nintendo DS games published by Nintendo Australia use localisations that originate from the USA. A prominent example is Professor Layton and the Last Specter, which was released under its US name rather than the European localisation the series traditionally followed. This was to include a mode which had to be removed from the European version as it would have taken too long to translate for Europe. Games for the DS that were not released in Europe, such as Chibi-Robo!: Park Patrol use US localisations. All Wii, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS games use European localisations in Australia due to being allocated as part of Nintendo's PAL Region, featuring the same region-locking, despite not being a subsidiary of Nintendo of Europe.
Australia, and the PAL region in general, are known to have later release dates than other regions for many Nintendo games. This has caused an uproar by some of Nintendo Australia's customers. One example of this was Super Paper Mario, which was released 5 months after North America. Despite the uproar with the delayed PAL release date for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Nintendo Australia had moved the release date sooner to 26 June 2008.
In September 2007 Aaron Rex Davies published a detailed report on game delays in Australia. It covered most justifications for the delays, and explained why they were unacceptable. This report was subsequently received by Nintendo Australia, who were then questioned about it during October 2007. Nintendo Australia gave a "No comment" response, which incensed some fans. The backlash was sufficient enough for Nintendo Australia to address the issue after being contacted by Kotaku Australia, blaming the delays on PAL conversion and localisation issues, even though these two justifications were directly addressed in Davies' report.
In December 2007, Rose Lappin was interviewed by The Age where during the interview, she was questioned about the release dates of Wii games to which she responded:
This was seen as a possible sign that Nintendo Australia were attempting to actively reduce delays. Soon after the article was published, Vooks contacted Nintendo Australia. They were told that she has been misquoted, and that Nintendo Australia "are currently making efforts to minimise the time needed for localisations, as we understand that the difference in worldwide release dates is frustrating to fans.".
Nintendo Australia has also been criticised for the expensive cost of their games, but this is the same with all video game distributors and subsidiaries in Australia, and Rose Lappin has said that the Australian and New Zealand dollar are weak on the exchange conversion rate, and they must raise the prices in order to keep running and to make a profit for their parent companies. This is despite multiple and recent occasions where the Australian dollar is reaching parity with the US.