Namco: From Coin-Operated Rides to Gaming Giants


In this article, you’ll learn about Namco Limited, a Japanese multinational video game and entertainment company. Namco has had an interesting journey, starting as an operator of coin-operated amusement rides and eventually becoming a gaming giant. They achieved great success with iconic arcade games like Galaxian and Pac-Man, and expanded into the home console market as well. Despite facing financial difficulties in the late 1990s and 2000s, Namco managed to merge with Bandai in 2005, forming Namco Bandai Holdings. Their well-known game franchises include Pac-Man, Tekken, and Ridge Racer. Even today, Bandai Namco Entertainment continues to use the Namco brand for their entertainment products. This is the fascinating history of a company that has left a significant impact on the gaming industry.

Namco: From Coin-Operated Rides to Gaming Giants

Namco Limited, a Japanese multinational video game and entertainment company, has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Founded in 1955 as Nakamura Seisakusho, Namco started as an operator of coin-operated amusement rides. Little did they know that they would become pioneers in the video game industry and leave a lasting impact on the world of entertainment.

Namco: From Coin-Operated Rides to Gaming Giants

This image is property of

Founding of Namco Limited

Namco Limited was established in Tokyo, Japan by Masaya Nakamura. Initially, it was known as Nakamura Seisakusho and focused on the production and maintenance of children’s rides. With Nakamura’s visionary leadership, the company quickly gained recognition and, by 1958, changed its name to Namco Limited.

Coin-Operated Amusement Rides

During the 1960s, Namco cemented its position in the entertainment industry by delving into coin-operated amusement rides. These attractions, such as mechanical horses and mini racecar simulators, became popular among children and adults alike. Namco’s commitment to delivering fun and innovative experiences laid the foundation for their future success.

Acquisition of Atari’s Japanese Division

In the early 1970s, Namco recognized the potential of the emerging video game industry and set its sights on expanding its portfolio. In a strategic move, the company acquired the struggling Japanese division of Atari, a well-known American video game company.

This acquisition proved to be a turning point for Namco. It allowed them to gain valuable expertise in the development and production of video games, setting the stage for their rise as a major player in the industry.

Hit Games like Galaxian and Pac-Man

Namco’s true breakthrough came in the late 1970s and early 1980s with the release of hit arcade games like Galaxian and Pac-Man. These games not only captivated players but also revolutionized the gaming landscape. Pac-Man, in particular, became a cultural phenomenon and is still considered one of the most iconic video game characters of all time.

The success of these games catapulted Namco into the international spotlight and firmly established them as a leading force in the video game industry.

Expansion into Home Console Market

Buoyed by their success in the arcade market, Namco sought to expand their presence into the rapidly growing home console market. They began publishing games for platforms such as the MSX and Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom), later known as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Namco’s entrance into the home console market allowed them to reach a broader audience and solidify their position as a major player in both the arcade and console gaming sectors.

Financial Difficulties and Decline

However, Namco faced significant challenges in the late 1990s and 2000s. The struggling Japanese economy and the decline of the arcade market took a toll on the company’s financial stability. Namco had to navigate through a difficult period of restructuring and downsizing, making tough decisions to ensure their survival.

Despite these challenges, Namco’s commitment to producing high-quality games and their relentless pursuit of innovation allowed them to weather the storm and overcome these obstacles.

Namco: From Coin-Operated Rides to Gaming Giants

This image is property of

Merger with Bandai

In 2005, Namco embarked on a new chapter in its history by merging with Bandai, another Japanese entertainment company renowned for its toy manufacturing and franchise properties. This merger created Namco Bandai Holdings, a conglomerate that combined the strengths and resources of both companies.

The merger not only bolstered Namco’s financial standing but also opened new avenues for collaboration across various entertainment sectors.

Successful Game Franchises

Throughout its history, Namco has been the driving force behind several successful game franchises. Pac-Man, Tekken, and Ridge Racer are just a few of the iconic titles that have not only entertained players but also become integral parts of gaming culture.

These franchises have evolved over the years, with new iterations and sequels captivating audiences and cementing Namco’s reputation as a master of game development.

Namco: From Coin-Operated Rides to Gaming Giants

Diversification of Products and Entertainment

As Namco’s influence grew, they expanded their reach beyond video games. Namco operated video arcades and amusement parks, enabling people to experience their games in immersive environments. They also ventured into film production, toy manufacturing, and the production of arcade cabinets.

Namco’s diversity in their offerings showcased their ability to adapt to changing consumer trends and cater to a wide range of entertainment preferences.

Legacy and Continuation

Today, Namco’s legacy lives on through its successor, Bandai Namco Entertainment. The Namco brand is still used to promote and distribute their vast array of entertainment products, ranging from video games to merchandise.

Bandai Namco Entertainment continues to innovate and captivate audiences with new releases and updates to their existing franchises, ensuring that the spirit of Namco thrives in the ever-evolving landscape of the entertainment industry.


From its origins as a coin-operated ride operator to becoming a gaming giant, Namco Limited has left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. Through their groundbreaking games, diverse product offerings, and commitment to innovation, Namco has brought joy to millions of people around the globe.

As the torchbearer of the Namco legacy, Bandai Namco Entertainment continues to forge ahead, carrying on the tradition of delivering engaging and unforgettable experiences that have become synonymous with the Namco brand.