Namco Ltd.
Namco logo
Type Private (subsidiary of Namco Bandai Holdings)
Founded 1955
Headquarters Flag of Japan Ōta, Tokyo, Japan
Flag of the United States Santa Clara, California, USA
Key people Masaya Nakamura (Founder)
Kyushiro Takagi (CEO)
Industry Leisure industry
Parent Namco Bandai Holdings

Namco Limited (株式会社ナムコ Kabushiki Gaisha Namuko?) is an amusement company based in Japan, best known overseas for video games development.

On September 29, 2005, Namco officially merged with Japanese toymaker Bandai to form Namco Bandai Holdings Inc (NBHD), one of the largest entertainment companies in Japan.[1] Namco became a wholly owned subsidiary of the holding company. Although officially the merger was absorption, "Under the holding company, Namco, Bandai and other affiliated companies will mutually cooperate and contribute to the growth of the whole group based on their respective business strategies."[2]

Under the holding company, on March 31, 2006, Namco merged with Bandai's video game operations and was renamed Namco Bandai Games Inc. (NBGI), which is also the head of NBHD's Game Contents Strategic Business Unit (SBU).

Namco Ltd.'s arcade venue, theme park and exploratory businesses as well as the Namco Ltd. corporate name and logo were spun off to create a new sister company. It is the head of NBHD's Amusement SBU.


Namco 1: now Namco Bandai Games

Namco was founded in Tokyo in 1955, by Masaya Nakamura under the name Nakamura Manufacturing Ltd. It began by producing mechanical rocking-horses and similar children's rides, which were installed in a number of department stores in Yokohama and Nihonbashi. It continued this line of production through the 1960s, and expanded with the addition of rides modeled after Walt Disney characters in 1966.

After the company's brand name was changed to Namco in 1971, it acquired the Japanese division of Atari in 1974, thus bringing Namco into the coin-operated video game market. Namco Enterprises Asia Ltd. was established in Hong Kong and was soon followed by Namco America, Inc., based in California. In 1978, Namco released its first arcade video game Gee Bee which was designed by Toru Iwatani. He also designed two sequels, Bomb Bee and Cutie Q, which were released in 1979.

The year 1980 saw the introduction of the company's most famous coin-operated arcade game, Pac-Man, which was also developed by Iwatani. The main character, Pac-Man, has now been made the company's official mascot. When Nintendo began producing its Famicom home console unit, Namco started the development of game titles for it, beginning with Galaxian, which had first been introduced to arcades in 1979. Video games for this console were released in Japan under the moniker Namcot.

Namco was the industry's first manufacturer to develop and release a multi-player, multi-cabinet competitive game, Final Lap, in 1987. This game allowed up to 8 players to compete when four 2-player cabinets were linked in a simple network. By 1988, the company's capital exceeded ¥5,500 million Yen. In 1989, another racing simulation game, Winning Run, was released; that same year, the company's expertise with driving simulation matured with the development of the Eunos Roadster Driving Simulator, a joint venture with the Mazda Motor Corporation, followed by an educational program for traffic safety developed with Mitsubishi. On the other hand in the vision of barrier-free amusement Namco started up business for the elderly and the disabled with "Talking Aid" in 1985.

In the 1990s, Namco began directly selling coin-operated arcade games in the United States through subsidiary Namco America. Sennichimae Plabo was opened in Osaka, featuring a new concept of large-scale arcade amusement, and Namco Wonder Eggs, a theme park, was opened in Tokyo. Additional amusement parks were opened, including Namco Wonder Park Sagamihara and Namco Wonder City.

In 1993, Namco merged its US arcade operation, Namco Operations, Inc., with the newly acquired Aladdin's Castle, Inc. to form Namco Cybertainment, Incorporated, bringing the company to the forefront as the largest arcade company in the world. In subsequent years, Namco Cybertainment, Inc. (NCI) purchased several other arcade operators, further strengthening the company's overall arcade operation. NCI now operates arcades under the names Time Out, CyberStation, Aladdin's Castle, Diamond Jim's, Space Port, and Pocket Change. Throughout the 2000s Namco Cybertainment has continued to grow. They are the only operator of national scope. They manage over 1,000 locations in forty-eight states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. On any given day, customers play games over three-quarters of a million times in locations they manage. They have nearly 30,000 games in their inventory, far surpassing any other operator. If the games were stood end to end, they would stretch nearly 40 miles. Namco Cybertainment owns the largest number of the most popular manufactured games in North America, including Nintendo, Sega, Midway, Konami, ICE, and NAMCO AMERICA. They are generally a coin-op manufacturer's largest customer.

Also in 1993, Ridge Racer, a driving simulation game, entered arcades, featuring 3D computer graphics; the game was later released for the Sony PlayStation. Another of the company's most famous games, Tekken, was released in 1994, which was also soon ported to the PlayStation.

In 1995 the game Soul Edge (Soul Blade in the PAL region) was released. This was the second game to feature weapons in a three-dimensional fighting environment on a console system (Battle Arena Toshinden was the first). With its Tekken and Soul franchises, Namco has been dominating the 3D fighting game market. They also released Cyber Sled, a futuristic 3-D battle tank game, which was also ported to PlayStation. Some light gun games were also released such as Point Blank and Time Crisis.

In 1996 it acquired the controlling share of the Japanese movie company Nikkatsu.

On September 7 2005, it span-out Nikkatsu to Index Holding.

In September2005, Namco merged with Bandai to become "Namco Bandai Holdings", the 3rd largest video game entity in Japan. As such, Namco is now a part of the Namco Bandai Group.

In January 2006, a Namco Bandai subsidiary was established in the U.S. to handle mobile games in North America, called Namco Networks America Inc. Working with the new 'next-gen' platform, Namco is able to port many of their time-tested arcade games to cell phones.

In March 2006, Namco Networks also opened an e-commerce operation, offering official merchandise based on Namco games.

Under the parent Namco Bandai Holdings (NBHD), it absorbed Bandai's video game operations and was renamed "Namco Bandai Games Inc." on March 31, 2006.

Other businesses (theme parks and exploratory) were transferred to a new NBHD subsidiary which was also transferred its old corporate name of "Namco Ltd." as well. See the "Namco 2" section below for the subsidiary.

Namco 2: amusement facility developer and operator

On March 31, 2006, Namco Ltd.'s amusement venue and incubation businesses including rehabilitainment (a contraction of rehabilitation and entertainment) were transferred to the newly created NBHD subsidiary which inherited the Namco Ltd. corporate name.

It is the head of NBHD's Amusement SBU. Namco Ltd. itself operates within Japan and delegates overseas operations for the regional / field based sister companies in the Amusement SBU.

Namco Cybertainment, Inc., the American arcade division of Namco Ltd., is the largest chain of arcades in North America.


  1. ^ Bandai, Namco to merge in Sept to form Japan's No 3 toy, game group - UPDATE 2. Forbes (2005-05-02). Retrieved on 2008-03-31.
  2. ^ NAMCO LIMITED and Bandai Co., Ltd (2005): Notice of Management Integration Through Establishment of a Joint Holding Company of NAMCO LIMITED and Bandai Co., Ltd. Press Release, 2005-05-02, retrieved on 2007-09-19.