Once a household name, Chinese maker of copycat Nintendo consoles driven to bankruptcy

Published (HKT): 2020.11.10 05:35

A Chinese company that made a fortune by manufacturing copycats of Japan’s Nintendo video game consoles in the late 1980s has filed for bankruptcy, according to news reports.

Subor Culture Development Company became a household name on the mainland in the 1980s and 1990s when its copies of the Nintendo originals rode on a global gaming wave that began in Japan. Dubbed “people’s consoles” in China, Subor products once hired Hong Kong martial arts superstar Jacky Chan as their brand ambassador.

Subor was established in 1987 and its market value reached 1 billion yuan (US$151.23 million) in 1995. Now the company, based in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, has filed for bankruptcy in a mainland court, mainland news reports said.

Since March, courts have listed Subor as a debtor in 29 liability cases involving a total of 18.24 million yuan in debts, the reports said. The company also saw a major leadership reshuffle in January when Chen Jianren, a key investor, resigned as Subor’s chairperson.

In 2016, Subor unveiled an ambitious plan to make itself the “king of the VR (virtual reality) industry”, proposing

a public listing. The proposals did not materialize, however, and the company ended up losing between 200 million yuan and 300 million yuan, the reports said.

Subor’s game development team disbanded last year, about a year after the company announced plans to launch its new console, named Z+. Subor announced that the new console would be equipped with AMD chips, 8G of ram and 128GB of SSD storage. However, the console was never released, and nor were several exclusive games reportedly under development.

Hong Kong still has a small group of Subor fans, mostly men in their forties, according to the owner of the console game shop GameZone in Yuen Long. The owner, Ah Ho, told Apple Daily that these fans bought Subor consoles mostly out of nostalgia, since the devices contain a plethora of arcade game titles from decades ago.

A former executive on Subor’s game console team told mainland media that the company lost up to 1 billion yuan after a prospective investor called off its investment in a collaborative project with the Japanese game developer Konami around 2017.

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