Nippon Ichi Software was founded in September 1991 in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, as an entertainment software company. It was relocated and reincorporated on July 12, 1993. Since then Nippon Ichi Software, Inc. has grown into an international company focused on creating video game products across modern console platforms. NIS America, Inc. subsidiary of Nippon Ichi Software, Inc. of Japan, established its North American operations on December 24, 2003. Based in Santa Ana, California, NIS America, Inc. handles operations including localization, marketing, and publishing of Nippon Ichi titles.
NIS America was the result of the company's wish to focus on international publication of their works in the U.S., given the increased popularity of their titles. Prior to the creation of this subsidiary, NIS software titles that appeared in the U.S. were localized and distributed by outside publishers. Notable examples would be Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, published in North America by Atlus and in Europe by Koei, La Pucelle, published in North America by Mastiff Inc, and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure which was also published in North America by Atlus. The publisher has become a somewhat of a well-known presence in the North American market, having won RPGLand's "Stateside Publisher of the Year Award" in 2009.
Nippon Ichi, meaning "Japan's Best" or "#1 in Japan," is often abbreviated as "N1".
During years 2008 and 2009 the financial results for Nippon Ichi saw a huge drop. The January 2009 financial report for the company recorded a drop of more than 97% in income in comparison to the previous year. Kotaku editor Brian Ashcraft reported that after the release of the financial figures "The company's closing price on the JASDAQ (Japanese NASDAQ) was ¥36,200 on Friday. When the market opened this morning, and investors began reacting to Nippon Ichi's financial statement, the stock price ultimately dropped ¥7,000 (US$78) as the stock was unloaded.".
Though the company has developed a number of traditional role-playing video games, Nippon Ichi's latest releases have primarily been a series of tactical RPG games. Many characters from previous titles make their way into later games as secret characters, even though their respective titles may not be directly connected. The Rhapsody series, Disgaea series, Phantom Brave, Makai Kingdom, and Soul Nomad are the games that are usually connected with each other through secret characters.
Other games of separate genres, such as Cooking Fighter Hao, have been published by the company though they have never been released outside Japan. The most popular games are the Disgaea games. All of these games have connections to each other, whether it be the same world, dimensional travel, same creatures, or the same über-hard tyrant, Baal.
Nippon Ichi have begun to branch out into different media recently. Their first project is an anime based loosely on the story from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. The success of the Disgaea anime has influenced N1 to consider adapting some of their other properties to the small screen. Possible projects are La Pucelle, Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome.