Taito Corporation (株式会社タイトー Kabushiki gaisha Taitō) is a Japanese company that specializes in video games, toys, arcade cabinets and game centers, based out of Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company was founded by Michael Kogan in 1953 as the Taito Trading Company, importing vodka, vending machines and jukeboxes into Japan. It would begin production of video games in 1973. In 2005, Taito was purchased by Square Enix, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary by 2006.
Square Enix's subsidiary Taito headquarters in Shinjuku Eastside Square, Tokyo
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||August 24, 1953 (as Taito Trading Company)|
|Products||List of Taito games|
|Total equity||¥447.9 billion|
Number of employees
|645 (March 2018)|
Taito is recognized as an important player in the early days of video games, producing several hit games such as Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Arkanoid, and Darius. Alongside Konami, Namco and Sega, it is one of the most prominent video game companies from Japan and the first that exported its games into other countries. Several of its games have since been recognized as important and revolutionary for the industry - Space Invaders in particular was a major contributor to the growth of video games in the mid-1970s, and the aliens featured in the games are seen as iconic emblems within the video games industry.
The company currently maintains a chain of arcade centers, known as "Game Taito Stations", across Japan, alongside being a manufacturer of toys, plush dolls and UFO-catcher prizes. It is currently housed in Shinjuku Bunka Quint Building in Yoyogi, Shibuya, the same building as parent company Square Enix.
The company was founded in 1953 by a Ukrainian Jewish businessman named Michael Kogan as Taito Trading Co., Ltd. (台東トレーディング株式会社 Taitō Torēdingu Kabushiki gaisha). Taito started out importing and distributing vending machines. It was the first company to distill and sell vodka in Japan. Later, it began leasing jukeboxes and eventually started to manufacture its own. Taito began producing electro-mechanical arcade games in the 1960s.
Taito changed its name from Taito Trading Company to Taito Corporation in August 1972 and introduced its first video arcade game in 1973. Several of its early arcade games saw release in North America by Midway, a Chicago area-based arcade manufacturer with strong ties to Taito. In 1978 Toshihiro Nishikado, a designer at Taito, created Space Invaders which became the company's most popular title and one of the most memorable games in arcade history, responsible for beginning the golden age of arcade video games.
Taito opened in 1973 its Taito America division. In its first years, Taito America's sole purpose was to handle the licensing of Taito's video games to American third party publishers. It was not until the late 1970s that Taito America began to self-publish Taito's video games in North America. Initially based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Taito America relocated to nearby Wheeling in 1985. While the majority of Taito America's catalog were titles that were originally released in Japan by its parent company, it did also publish video games licensed from third-party companies, as well as games that were developed in the United States for Taito.
In April 1986 and barely a month after becoming part of the Kyocera group, Taito merged with two of its subsidiaries, Pacific Industrial Co., Ltd. and the Japan Vending Machine Co., Ltd, and absorbed them both. Japan Vending Machine was once an independent company but was purchased by Taito in July 1971 to strengthen its presence in the operation of amusement facilities. Pacific Industrial was created by Taito itself in 1963 to develop products for the company.
In August 1988, on the occasion of its 35th anniversary, the company changed its logo to the current one.
In April 1988, Taito Software, the subsidiary of Taito America responsible for non-arcade operations, opened its own office in North Vancouver, British Columbia. While manufacturing and distribution of Taito arcade video games in North America continued to be handled in Wheeling, the North Vancouver unit became in charge of releasing video games for Nintendo's products and the computer market. In addition to its corporate offices in North Vancouver, Taito Software operated a distribution center in Bothell, Washington.  By early 1991 Taito Software had completely shut down, and publishing of home video games returned in Wheeling.
Taito America ceased operations in July 1996 after more than 20 years of existence. Taito had already sold exclusive rights for publishing its games in America to Acclaim Entertainment the previous year. Similarly, a division existed in London, England, United Kingdom to distribute Taito games in Europe. Taito (Europe) Corporation Limited was created in 1988 and liquidated in February 1998.
Taito has developed many arcade video games. Space Invaders (1978) is most notable; other titles include Speed Race (1974), Gun Fight (1975), Qix (1981), Jungle Hunt (1982), Elevator Action (1983), Buggy Challenge (1984), Bubble Bobble (1986), Takeshi no Chōsenjō (1986), Chase H.Q. (1988), Puzznic (1989), Kick Master (1992), Gun Buster (1992) and Puzzle Bobble (1994). Taito also had a license from Hanna-Barbera to produce games based on The Flintstones and The Jetsons.
Several of Taito's video games that were released for the Famicom and the Super Famicom in Japan were a joint venture with Disco Corporation. Disco Corporation was established in July 1972 by Taito as a subsidiary to import and sale home electronic products. As of 2003, Disco's main activities were the development, sales and handling of licenses of computers, peripheral devices and software.
In 1992, Taito announced a CD-ROM-based video game console named WOWOW, that would have allowed people to play near-exact ports of Taito's arcades (similar to the Neo Geo), as well as download games from a satellite transmission (as the Satellaview would do later). It was named after the Japanese television station WOWOW and would have utilized its stations to download games. The WOWOW was never released.
When Taito was owned by Kyocera, its headquarters were in Hirakawachō, Chiyoda. Taito entered the Tokyo Stock Exchange in January 1993, listed in the Second Section. It transitioned to the First Section in September 2003. In October 2000, Taito merged with Kyocera Multimedia Corporation to enter the market of mobile phones for the first time.
On August 22, 2005, it was announced that the gaming conglomerate Square Enix would purchase 247,900 Taito shares worth ¥45.16 billion (US$409.1 million), to make Taito Corporation a subsidiary of Square Enix. The purpose of the takeover by Square Enix was to both increase Taito's profit margin exponentially as well as begin its company's expansion into new forms of gaming (most notably, the arcade scene), and various other entertainment venues. The takeover bid from Square Enix was accepted by previous stockholder Kyocera, making Taito a Square Enix subsidiary. On September 22, 2005, Square Enix announced successfully acquiring 93.7% of all shares of Taito, effectively owning the company by September 28, 2005. By March, 2006 Taito became a subsidiary wholly owned by Square Enix and was delisted from the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Square Enix announced on July 28, 2008, that it would liquidate two subsidiaries of Taito, Taito Art Corporation (an insurance and travel agent subsidiary) and Taito Tech Co., Ltd. (an amusement and maintenance subsidiary) on the grounds that both had fulfilled their business purpose. The process ended in October 2008.
In February 2010, Taito's unit for home video games split into a separate company called Taito Soft Corporation (not to be confused with Taito Software, the North American division of the late 1980s). On March 11, 2010, Taito Soft was folded into Square Enix. All of Taito's franchises for video game consoles in Japan are since published by Square Enix.
On July 3, 2018, Taito announced in Famitsu that it will return to the software publishing business for the eighth generation of video game consoles. The intention to return to the home console market came about because the company decided that it would be necessary to release Taito's intellectual properties on current platforms in order to increase profit. The company has various properties planned in its software pipeline, from re-releases to new titles for various platforms; however, Taito highlighted that the console software market is a challenging business for the company. Taito intends to develop original games for consoles in the future.
Taito Corporation has incarnated three different companies over the course of its existence. The mergers conducted in 2006 and 2010 were achieved in order for Taito to adapt to the business requirements of its parent company, Square Enix.
- First company
The company was founded as "Taito Trading Company". In 1972, the name of the company was changed to "Taito Corporation".
- Second company
In March 2006, Square Enix, which already owned 93% of the company, wanted to make Taito a wholly owned subsidiary. To accomplish this goal, Square Enix merged Taito into SQEX Corporation. Although the combined company took on the name "Taito Corporation", it was actually Taito that was dissolved and SQEX that was the surviving entity.
SQEX was established on June 22, 1999, under the name The Game Designers Studio as a shell corporation of the defunct Square Co, Ltd. It was renamed to SQEX Corporation in 2005 after Square merged with Enix. The Game Designer Studios was used by Square in order to exploit the loophole with its exclusivity deal to develop for Sony's PlayStation consoles.
- Third company
Square Enix Holdings wanted all of its arcade operations to be regrouped into one subsidiary. And so, the third and present Taito Corporation came to being on February 1, 2010, by merging Taito Corporation (formerly SQEX/Game Designers Studio) with ES1 Corporation. In an "absorption-type company split" move, Taito Corporation (the second company) was split as a separate company and renamed Taito Soft Corporation, while ES1 Corporation was renamed "Taito Corporation" (the third company).
During the merger with Taito Corporation (the second company) to become itself the new Taito Corporation, ES1 inherited all of Taito's arcade and mobile businesses, and nearly the totality of its employees. On the other hand, Taito Soft Corporation (formerly SQEX) was left with 10 employees to concentrate exclusively on the development and publishing of video games for home consoles. Taito Soft Corporation was eventually merged into Square Enix in March 2010 and dissolved.
ES1 Corporation was established on June 1, 2009, as an operator of arcade facilities. ES1 Corporation was owned by the shell company SPC1, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings. SCP1 dissolved when ES1 became Taito Corporation in February 2010. As such, the current Taito Corporation is technically the company formerly called ES1 Corporation.
Taito has developed and published video games since 1973, becoming one of the largest Japanese video game developers and one of the largest arcade game manufacturers in the world. Space Invaders is the company's most notable work, grossing $13.93 billion as of 2016. Alongside Space Invaders, Taito has created several well-regarded video game franchises, including Bubble Bobble, Arkanoid, Groove Coaster, Elevator Action, Qix, RayForce, Battle Gear and Densha de Go!. Their North American division was a publisher of games for home consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and also produced video games based on television series by Hanna-Barbera, including The Flintstones and The Jetsons.
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