The Nintendo Seal of Quality (currently Official Nintendo Seal in NTSC regions) is a gold seal first used by Nintendo of America, and later Nintendo of Europe, displayed on any game licensed for use on one of its video game consoles, denoting the game has been properly licensed by Nintendo (and, in theory, checked for quality). It is a golden starburst with the text "Original Nintendo Seal of Quality" or "Official Nintendo Seal". The starburst is circular in PAL regions, such as Europe and Australia, and elliptical for NTSC regions.
One of the major causes of the North American video game crash of 1983 was customer dissatisfaction with a large portion of the introduced games. They were considered technically poor, tasteless or both; a particularly notorious example is Custer's Revenge. Many games were simply commercial tie-ins, such as the much maligned video game version of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The Atari 2600, then the biggest console on the market, had no lockout device, so anyone who could get programming tools could make and market a game for it. Games were rushed to market, resulting in poor titles and low consumer credibility.
Gamers understandably were wary of game makers when the Nintendo Entertainment System came out in 1985. The 10NES lockout chip solved the problem of controlling access to the console, but there was the issue of customer confidence. Nintendo introduced the Seal of Quality to show gamers the games had met quality control standards in terms of basic programming and would be free of objectionable content. This reassured consumers, and the NES became a great success. Publishers were also encouraged to create high-quality titles in other ways. Each publisher was only allowed five releases per year (with certain exceptions), so effort was put into making those few titles successful.
Originally, for NTSC countries, the seal was a large, black and gold circular starburst. The seal read as follows: "This seal is your assurance that NINTENDO has approved and guaranteed the quality of this product." This seal was later altered in 1988; "approved and guaranteed" was changed to "evaluated and approved". In 1989, the seal became gold and white, like it currently appears, with a shortened phrase, "Official NINTENDO Seal of Quality". The symbol remained unchanged until 2003 when "of Quality" was removed.
The Nintendo Seal of Quality is still used, with all Nintendo DS and Wii games bearing it on their packaging. However, it has recently been changed to read "Official Nintendo Seal" rather than "Official Nintendo Seal of Quality".
When the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality was used, the meaning of the seal was explained as follows:
This meant the cartridge worked in the named hardware; it had nothing to do with the quality of the software.
The current Official Nintendo Seal is explained as follows: