The History of the Nintendo NES Seal of Quality

Throughout the active history of the NES, Nintendo influenced the video game industry and video game developers in a way that most developers today would prefer to forget. To encourage the participation of third-party developers, Nintendo developed the NES Seal of Quality system. How did it work? Wait and we’ll check.


Nintendo had a complete monopoly on the physical production of the cartridges. They placed an authentication chip in each console (the 10NES authentication chip) and another in each officially licensed cartridge that would bear the “NES Official Seal of Quality”. The game would not load if the console did not recognize the authentication chip inside the cart.

This would allow Nintendo to impose really strict rules on its third-party developers, beginning with production runs of their games in whatever numbers Nintendo would deem appropriate. This had a huge impact on many developers as no matter how high the demand for their game was, they were limited in the production that Nintendo would allow them to do, so in fact it was Nintendo who decided how much profit they would make. allow the developer to do with this physical restriction.

security violation

It wouldn’t be long before some shady companies would want to break this security feature. The pirate market abroad was huge. Multicars were everywhere, and some developers in America wanted to break the “seal of quality” mold. A company called Color Dreams figured out how to bypass the jamming chip in 1989; sending a voltage spike from the carriage to disable the lock chip. Color Dreams produced a few games, and through a loophole (by bypassing the chip, they were not infringing on Nintendo’s patent copyright), they were allowed to do so. However, Nintendo quietly threatened retailers not to sell Color Dreams games, and they succeeded. Color Dreams changed its name to Wisdom Tree and began producing religious-themed games as a goad to Nintendo’s morality of ruling the game production market.

Other pirate companies at the time used a dongle that plugged into a licensed game with the chip to use for the authentication process with the 10NES. Many imported pirate games worked this way in the United States.

tengen the renegade

Tengen, an Atari company, was the only official licensee to defect from Nintendo. Not wanting to risk being liable for damage to NES consoles through the voltage spike method, they managed to gain access to the lock chip patent and were able to replicate it in their own form: the Rabbit chip. Nintendo sued Tengen for copyright infringement and won, however Tengen’s antitrust claims against Nintendo were never decided to this day.

Are you with us or against us?

Nintendo also had a strict third-party developer policy for many years; if you developed a game for Nintendo, you only developed games for Nintendo. This policy was deadly for most companies that tried to break or shake Nintendo’s monopoly in the United States. Such was the case with the Sega Master System, which never really took off in America, though it enjoyed huge popularity abroad, even surpassing the NES.

They also had a strict censorship policy for games they released in the United States under their licensing label. They censored all content on the US releases, removing all questionable words or adult and semi-adult content. This was alienating to many game developers at the time.

When Nintendo finally relaxed its policies due to government pressure and the fact that developers were starting to go over to the competition, the market opened up a bit again and other companies had a chance to get their fair share of the pie with their systems. . When the NES console was reissued as the NES 2 in the 1990s, the 10NES chip was removed from the console, marking the end of the strictest control ever known on third-party developers in all of video game history.

Fortunately, no other video game company has ever tried to maintain such tight control over the development of video games for their system, and now we can enjoy masterpieces on any video game system of our choice.

The Nintendo NES remains a fairly popular video game system, if only for the fact that Americans have been able to enjoy this system for years, which makes the element of nostalgia quite high for a high percentage of Americans. people who enjoy video games. Many NES games can still be found in the video game store, mainly on the web, where there is a specialized video game web store for retro games, and a lot of information is available on where to find such games on many websites, including http: / /

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