Nintendo was fighting an uphill battle back in 1985 when attempting to bring their Nintendo Entertainment System to the United States. The video game industry has crashed just a few years before, and it appeared that gaming was just a fad.
But Nintendo knew otherwise. They just had to convince the rest of America. And convince they did, with the help of this press release and a few accessories.
The release has surfaced online courtesy of video game collector Steve Lin, and it reveals that Nintendo choose to emphasize the R.O.B. robot toy and Zapper light gun just as much as the console itself. While parents may have been wary of buying a new video game console, they seemed more willing to purchase an "entertainment system" that came with a number of other features.
It's for that reason the console's earliest advertisements focused so much on R.O.B., with the commercials making it a point to prove that the NES was more than just a game console.
Their strategy seems to have worked, as the press release shows. Nintendo funded market research on the NES back in 1986, shortly after their initial test release of the console in New York City. They asked 200 families who purchased the console whether they were satisfied with their purchase and their reasons for buying. Nintendo then published the results in the press release in an effort to convince retailers nationwide to stock the game console.
Just arrived: Early Nintendo press release announcing the nationwide rollout of the NES! Dated March 20, 1986 pic.twitter.com/GqDKIkSPBY
— Steve Lin (@stevenplin) October 31, 2015
It reveals that the number one reason a child might ask for the NES is none other than the awkward robot R.O.B., followed by the quality of the NES's graphics and the variety of games available. Teens seemed to be the most impressed with Nintendo's console. On a satisfaction scale of one to ten, 55 percent of the teens polled rated the NES a 10, with 35 percent rating it with a nine. For comparison, only 34 percent of adults and 38 percent of kids 7-11 rated the NES with a 10.
As we all know, Nintendo's gambit paid off. While R.O.B. helped convince more than a few early adopters, the robot was soon forgotten as classic games like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda and Metroid helped sell the console moving forward. The rest, as they say, is history.