People scratched their heads at “Wii” but ultimately everyone accepted it. Not many are really warming up to “Wii U” but I suspect as some point that’ll be spoken like it was always a part of the language, too.
There is no way I could see myself referring to anything I own, however, as a “City Boy” and a fascinating post yesterday, backed up by a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office, indicate Nintendo had plans to call a piece of hardware just that. A writer who just up and created a WordPress blog yesterday to share this story, says that a couple years ago some Nintendo marketing folks had told her that the company originally planned to call the DS the “City Boy”.
Well, if that’s true, thank God they didn’t, is all I have to say. “Nintendo DS” may be a little nondescript, but at least I can say “I really like playing with my Nintendo DS”, with a straight face.
Lo and behold, there is a trademark registration — still live, by the way — that Nintendo of America filed in March, 2004 for “City Boy” and it covers hardware, not software. The DS, of course, was revealed at E3 that year and then launched in November. The registration has since changed, but Nintendo owned the mark until 2006. Hyperlinks aren’t available to the document in the USPTO web site, but you can go here, select “Trademark Search”, search for “City Boy” and find it easily. The serial number is 79007567.
The writer says she was told that “City Boy” was meant to keep the Game Boy brand going, while also positioning the device as an appealing option for older gamers. Nintendo would be competing against smartphone gaming, which it understood as a threat even back then, for that growth audience. “Game Boy” sounded a little too juvenile; “City Boy” was supposed to mean a device you’d carry all over the city with you and play in public.
There’s no proof of how seriously Nintendo considered this name, or if it was a strategic filing to keep that out of someone else’s hands, or if it was meant for some other device that never materialised. The DS was codenamed “Nitro” but as we’ve seen throughout the industry, they never reflect the product name on the market.
It’s an interesting anecdote and the date of the trademark filing, and its type, would seem to back up her claim. And the occasion of her recollection, on the weekend of E3, make it a timely story you should go check out.