|Industry||Video games, engineering|
|Founded||April 20, 1976 |
|Defunct||June 25, 2003|
|Headquarters||Suginami, Tokyo, Japan|
|Products||List of games released by Data East|
|Revenue||¥282.5 million (April 2001) |
|Subsidiaries||Data East USA, inc.
Data East Pinball inc.
Data East Corporation (株式会社データイースト Dēta Īsuto Kabushikigaisha?) also abbreviated as DECO, was a Japanese video game and electronic engineering company. The company was in operation from 1976 to 2003, and released 150 video games. Its main headquarters were located in Suginami, Tokyo, The American subsidiary, Data East USA, had been headquartered in San Jose, California.
Data East was founded by Tetsuo Fukuda on April 20, 1976, as an electronic engineering company which focused on integrating interchangeable tapes inside arcade game devices, allowing video games operators to replace a game from a machine without having to replace the cabinet itself. Realizing the money that could be made within the interactive content, Data East developed in 1977 its first arcade game Jack Lot. This was followed in 1978 by Super Break, a clone of Atari's Breakout and Space Fighters, a clone of Taito's Space Invaders. In 1979, Data East released its first original game, Nice On, which was released exclusively in Japan. Data East established a U.S. division in 1979, after its chief competitors Sega and Taito had already established a market presence. In 1980, Data East published Astro Fighter which became its first major arcade title. While making games, Data East released a series of interchangeable systems compatible with its arcade games, notably the DECO Cassette System and the Multi Conversion Kit, but these products soon became infamous among their users due to their numerous technical problems. Data East dropped the DECO Cassette by 1985.
In 1981, three staff members of Data East founded Technōs Japan, who then supported Data East for a while before becoming completely independent.
Data East continued to release arcade video games over the next 15 years following the video game crash of 1983. Some of its most famous coin-op arcade games from its 1980s heyday included Karate Champ, Heavy Barrel, BurgerTime, Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja, Sly Spy, RoboCop, Bump 'n' Jump, Trio The Punch – Never Forget Me..., Karnov and Atomic Runner Chelnov. Karate Champ was the first successful fighting game, due to being one of the most influential to modern fighting game standards. It was also the subject of the litigation Data East USA, Inc. v. Epyx, Inc., in which Data East alleged that Epyx's International Karate infringed the copyright in Karate Champ.
Data East also purchased licenses to manufacture and sell arcade games created by other companies. Some of its licensed games included Kid Niki: Radical Ninja, Kung Fu Master and Vigilante, all licensed from Irem, and Commando, licensed from Capcom. It had a brief stint as a Neo-Geo arcade licensee in the mid-1990s, starting with Spinmaster.
Data East entered the video game console market in 1986 with the release of B-Wings for the Famicom. This led to the company becoming a licensee for several other home systems in the following 13 years, notably the PC Engine (1988), Game Boy (1990), Mega Drive (1991), Super Nintendo (1991), Neo Geo (1993), Sega Saturn (1995), PlayStation (1996), WonderSwan (1999) and NeoGeo Pocket Color (1999). Several of Data East's video games series, such as Tantei Jingūji Saburō, Glory of Hercules and Metal Max, were created specifically for home consoles.
Data East also made pinball machines from 1987 through 1994, and included innovations such as the first pinball to have stereo sound (Laser War), the first usage of a small dot matrix display in Checkpoint along with the first usage of a big DMD (192x64) in Maverick. In designing pinball machines they showed a strong preference for using high-profile (but expensive) licensed properties, rather than creating totally original machines, which did not help the financial difficulties the company began experiencing from 1990 on. Some of the properties that Data East licensed for its pinball machines included Guns N' Roses, Star Wars, Back to the Future, Batman, RoboCop, The Simpsons, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Data East is the only company that manufactured custom pinball games (e.g. for Aaron Spelling, the movie Richie Rich, or Michael Jordan), though these were basically mods of existing or soon to be released pinball machines (e.g. Lethal Weapon 3). The pinball division was created in 1985 by purchasing the pinball division of Stern Electronics and its factory and assets. Amidst plummeting sales across the entire pinball market, Data East chose to exit the pinball business and sold the factory to Sega in 1994. At the time of the buyout by Sega, Data East Pinball was the world's second-largest pinball manufacturer, holding 25 percent of the market.
Although video games represented the majority of the company's revenue, Data East had always been involved in engineering. Outside of video games, Data East produced image transmission equipment, data communication adapters for satellite phones from NTT DoCoMo, and developed electrocardiogram equipment for ambulances. According to the company's website, its Datafax product, released in 1983, was the world's first portable fax machine.
By the end of the 1990s, the company's American division, Data East USA, had been liquidated and Data East had ceased to exist outside of Japan. The Japanese parent company itself withdrew entirely from the arcade industry in 1998 and had accumulated a debt estimated at 3.3 billion yen. Unable to escape its mounting financial problems, Data East filed for reorganization in 1999 and stopped making video games altogether. All customer support pertaining to video games was halted in March 2000. For the following three years, Data East sold negative ion generators and licensed some of its old video games to other companies; all of this in hope of collecting enough money to be able to make video games again and return to the competition. Nonetheless, the company's restructuring efforts were not enough to put back the financial problems brought by the 1990s and in April 2003, Data East filed for bankruptcy and was finally declared bankrupt by a Tokyo district court on June 25, 2003. The news was released to the public two weeks later, on July 8.
Most of Data East's intellectual properties were acquired in February 2004 by G-Mode, a Japanese mobile game content provider. However some of Data East's important assets, including Karnov, Chelnov, and the Vapor Trail trilogy are owned by Paon Corporation instead of G-Mode. Nintendo acquired the rights to Glory of Heracles franchise, and released the latest installment in the series, Heracles no Eikō: Tamashii no Shōmei for the Nintendo DS in 2008. Cattle Call acquired the rights to the Metal Max series and Arc System Works acquired the rights of the Jake Hunter series from WorkJam. The RoboCop titles related to Data East were acquired by D4 Enterprise in September 2010. The remaining properties of Data East are regrouped under a shell corporation called Takutoron Corporation maintained by founder Tetsuo Fukuda. Takutoron has since sued Nintendo twice for patent infringement, but both cases were dismissed.
- For a list of video and pinball games released by Data East, see List of games released by Data East.
- Gamadelic - Sound team of Data East
- Technōs Japan - Established by an independent company's managing director Kunio Taki and a few other former Data East employees. After filing for bankruptcy, they founded its successor Million Co..
- Idea Factory - Another company established by Data East's former employees.
- TAD Corporation - Founded by Tadashi "TAD" Yokoyama and a few other former employees of Data East. Best known for its first two video games Cabal and Toki.
- Kuusoukagaku Corporation - A splinter of Data East. Today, the company deals exclusively with mobile gaming.
- Wood Place - A Japanese company associated with Data East and full of former Nichibutsu employees, best known for licensing arcade titles like Ring King and Fire Trap.
- WorkJam - A company known for owning the development rights to the Jake Hunter series before handing the rights over to Arc System Works, In addition, the company's former Data East employees work for WorkJam.
- Scitron Label - Published video game soundtrack albums of several video games, including Data East's titles.
- G-Mode - A mobile content management company who obtained and currently holds the rights to a plurality of Data East's video game library, which includes the BurgerTime, Joe & Mac, and Magical Drop franchises.
- Paon - Formed by former Data East employees, who then bought the rights to a smaller portion of Data East's library than G-mode, which includes Karnov, Chelnov, High Seas Havoc and the Kuuga trilogy.
- Cattle Call - Another company founded by former Data East employees. Also responsible for the development of Metal Max 2: Reloaded and Metal Max 3.
- Nintendo - Acquired the Glory of Heracles franchise as part of its first party portfolio.
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- Data East Retro Game Music Collection music album.
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- "Arc System Works Picks Up The Jake Hunter And Theresia Series". Siliconera. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
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- 東京地方裁判所 平成15年(ワ)第23079号 損害賠償請求事件
- 知的財産高等裁判所 平成18年(ネ)第10007号 損害賠償請求控訴事件
- 東京地方裁判所民事 平成19年（ワ）第32196号 不当利得返還請求事件
- Neomega forums posting on Data East's closure, July 8
- "Data East Negative Ion Generator". AMpress. Retrieved 10 April 2013.