Nintendo’s Howard Lincoln: Video Game Rentals Are “Commercial Rape”

Recently saw a video claiming that Nintendo so despised the video game rental system in the United States during the 1980s that former Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln once referred to it as “commercial rape.”

This quote appears to originate from David Sheff’s 1993 book, Game Over, Press Start to Continue: How Nintendo Conquered the World. Someone has uploaded the 1999 edition of the book to the Internet Archive, and the quote appears on page 283 of that book.

Howard Lincoln said that video-game rental was “nothing less than commercial rape. I can spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars creating a game,” he says. “I expect, therefore, to be compensated every time the thing sells. All of a sudden, out of the blue, comes a system that distributes my game to thousands of people and I get no royalty. The video-rental companies exploit the thing — renting it out over and over again, hundreds and even thousands of times — and I get nothing. The guy who developed the game and Nintendo get screwed. What does the guy who’s renting the cartridge contribute? What does he pay in terms of a royalty for the commercial exploitation of copyrighted work? Zip.”

Unfortunately, Sheff’s book lacks any citations, and the source for this quote is not referenced.