Taito Corporation (株式会社タイトー, Kabushikigaisha Taitō) (commonly referred to as Taito) is a Japanese video game developer and publisher of arcade hardwares and mobile phones, and an operator of video arcades. It is also a former publisher of home video games. Taito is wholly owned by publisher Square Enix. It has its headquarters in the Shinjuku Bunka Quint Building in Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo,sharing the facility with its parent company.
Taito is known for producing hit arcade games, such as Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble. It has produced arcade games all around the world, while also importing and distributing American coin-op video games in Japan. Taito owns several arcades in Japan known as Taito Stations or Game Taito Stations.
Taito Corporation currently has a subsidiary in Beijing, China. In the past, the company had operated divisions in North America, Brazil, South Korea, Italy and the United Kingdom.
The company was founded in 1953 by a Russian Jewish businessman named Michael Kogan as Taito Trading Company (株式会社太東貿易 Kabushiki-gaisha Taitō Bōeki). Taito started out importing and distributing vending machines. It was also 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 1972 and introduced its first video arcade game in 1973. Several of its early arcades games saw release in 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 ever 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 wasn't 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 May 1988, Taito Software, the division 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. However, by early 1991, the Vancouver location had completely shut down, and publishing of home video games returned in Wheeling.
Taito America ceased operations in 1995 after more than 20 years of existence. Video games from Taito Corporation are still available in North America to this day, but they now bear the name of other publishers.
Taito has many well known arcade video games. Space Invaders (1978) is probably the most notable, but games such as 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) are all part of Taito's library. Taito also had a license from Hanna-Barbera to do games based on The Flintstones and The Jetsons.
In 1992, Taito announced a CD-ROM-based console system 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.
On August 22, 2005, it was announced that gaming giant 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 an official 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 officially announced on July 28, 2008 that it would liquidate two subsidiaries of Taito, Taito Art Corporation and Taito Tech Co., Ltd. on the grounds that both had fulfilled their business purpose. The process officially 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 21, 2011, Taito Soft was folded into Square Enix. All of Taito's franchises for video game consoles in Japan are now published by Square Enix though these games continue to feature the Taito logotype and copyright.
Taito Corporation: one name, three companies
Taito Corporation has incarnated three different companies over the course of its existence.
First company (1953–2006)
The first company was founded as "Taito Trading Company". In 1972 it changed its name to "Taito Corporation" which has remained Taito's legal name ever since.
Second company (2006–2010)
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 with 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, thus creating the second Taito Corporation.
SQEX was established on June 22, 1999 under the name Game Designers Studio as a shell corporation for the old Square Co, Ltd. It was renamed to SQEX Corporation in 2005.
Third company (2010–present)
Square Enix wanted all of its arcade operations to be consolidated 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 spun-off 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 business and nearly the totality of its employees. Taito Soft Corporation, on the other hand, 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 2011 and dissolved.
ES1 Corporation was established on June 1, 2009 as an operator of arcade facilities. ES1 was owned by SPC1, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of Square Enix.
As such, the modern Taito Corporation is technically the company formerly known as ES1 Corporation.