2003: Data East bids farewell
BurgerTime, RoboCop, Karate Champ…these are just a few of the incredibly popular arcade games that were created by Data East, a Japanese electronics company founded by Tetsuo Fukuda in 1976. (Fukuda would go on to help create titles in the Metal Max series, as well as a few Guilty Gear games.) While Data East had success with creating their own games, their licensing options were even more fruitful. For example, they licensed and published a version of Dragon’s Lair for the SNES in 1992. They also licensed and distributed Commando for Capcom.
But Data East was no one-trick pony. The company also produced pinball machines (some with licensing like Star Wars and Back to the Future) from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. With the demise of pinball in the 1990s came the end of this part of their business, which resulted in numerous financial problems. The company returned exclusively to video game production by the turn of the millennium. Unfortunately, this move didn’t help Data East in the long run. The company tried to restructure but eventually folded in late 2003.
Data East might not have been a household name, but it’s still sad to see a long-standing company bite the dust. Are there any lesser-known video game companies that you hated to see go in the past or fear might close up shop in the future? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.