VIDEO GAMING ARTICLES
How Did Nintendo Lose In The Console
by: Kevin Scripter
While the console wars will continue on, Nintendo was
once king of the mighty mountain of anything considered
video games (home or portable - even though Nintendo will
finally be challenged on the latter with Sony's PSP in
2005). But, Nintendo has gone from #1 in market share,
down to #3. Nintendo now lives by these words: be careful
of whom you tick off, because one day they may be your
competitor. You will understand why by the end of this
Back in the days of the NES, Sega's Master System could
not even put up a fight against Nintendo's original 8-bit
behemoth that sold over 60 million units. Then, the Super
NES (SNES) was released, but was not dominant early on.
Sega released the 16-bit Sega Genesis (1989) two years
before the SNES and had a jumpstart in the entertaining
16-bit console war. Sega still lacked that one title that
everyone had to own until Sonic The Hedgehog was born
Sega realized a flaw in the SNES processor - it was too
slow. Sega exploited this flaw to the public by releasing
their Sonic games that displayed a fast moving hedgehog
on screen (the Genesis processing power was coined as
"blast processing" by Sega). The SNES had plenty
of games that displayed too many moving sprites onscreen
and the game would actually slowdown because the processor
could not keep up with the onscreen action.
However, in the end, Nintendo prevailed due to its many
new franchises it created on the SNES (Super Mario Kart,
Star Fox, F-Zero) and killer sequels (The Legend Of Zelda:
A Link To The Past, Super Metroid, Super Mario World).
Sega stopped supporting the Genesis with quality games
in the late stages of its life cycle leading to the death
of the console. Nintendo sold 49 million Super Nintendo
consoles initially losing a big chunk of its market share
when the Genesis was first introduced, but Nintendo still
managed to retain a 60% market share after the 16-bit
console war was over (and selling twice as many SNES consoles
as the Genesis).
When the Genesis was popular, Sega saw the opportunity
to incorporate CD gameplay by introducing the Sega CD
peripheral attachment for the Genesis. But the lack of
any quality games made most gamers stay way from the CD
add-on. Nintendo, however, saw a threat when news broke
of a Genesis CD peripheral, and since Nintendo had no
experience with CD consoles, they enlisted the help of
Sony (ah, the plot thickens).
Nintendo is king of cartridge-based consoles, but Sony
had the resources to create the CD add-on for the SNES
that was ironically named Playstation. After months of
working, eventually the two companies split. Both were
in disagreement about the final specs of the system and
how profits would be divided.
Sony was already a major consumer electronics leader with
their Walkmans, TVs, VCRs, stereos, etc. and now figured
they could try their hand at the video game business.
Since Sony invested so many hours of labor and money into
this CD machine, they decided to make it a full-fledged
stand alone console with their specs and would then be
able to keep all of the profits. The Sony Playstation
was born (and eventually becoming more popular than Sony's
Sony jumped to CD gameplay and Sega followed suit with
the Sega Saturn, but Nintendo opted to stay with the cartridge
format for one more generation. By doing so, Nintendo
alienated many game publishers - none more important than
Square Enix (best known for their Final Fantasy RPG franchise).
Square Enix (and many other publishers) decided that disk
gameplay was the future and left Nintendo's cozy camp
to partner with Sony (and enjoy Sony's lower licensing
Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII (the first Final Fantasy
game released on the Playstation - and Sony made everyone
aware of it with ads that claimed if the game were created
on a cartridge, it would have cost $1200) went on to sell
an outstanding 7.8 million copies!
Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 (fortunately their last
cartridge-based system) in 1996. The high production costs
of games on cartridges and the lack of the many quality
game titles seen on previous Nintendo consoles doomed
this console for most of its life cycle (there was not
even a Metroid game for the N64). Nintendo slipped out
of the number one spot for console market share for good
and has yet to ever return to that position.
The N64 sold 32 million units, which considering the lack
of numerous quality titles like the SNES possessed, is
a solid number sold, but pales in comparison to the Playstation
One's sales figures. In May 2004, Sony had shipped its
100 millionth Playstation One console. Sony easily won
the 32-bit/64-bit console war.
The Xbox, GameCube and PS2 console war has been fierce.
Sega's 128-bit Dreamcast was pulled from the much crowded
console war and stopped producing consoles altogether.
Companies have offered different prices, different bundles,
but in the end, the Playstation 2 is number one with a
record-breaking 70 million units sold as of May 2004 (and
will likely break the 100 million mark faster than the
original Playstation One console). Xbox is number two
and the Nintendo GameCube is close-behind at number three.
Nintendo has been able to bring back the much needed Final
Fantasy franchise (in some limited capacity however).
The GameCube finally switched to disc gameplay, but Sony
had a one year head start with the PS2 and has never looked
back. Nintendo claims their next console, code-named "Revolution,"
will be released along with its competitors.
Can Nintendo ever be number one again? Even with quality
franchise titles such as Metroid Prime, The Legend Of
Zelda: Wind Waker, Super Mario Sunshine, all of the mega-popular
Pokémon games, Nintendo is still only in third
place in console market share.
To think that if Nintendo had not ticked Sony off with
the development of the SNES CD add-on, Nintendo and Sega
may still be fighting the console war along with Microsoft.
But if that happened, more than likely many more game
publishers would have been backing Nintendo's console
and all of those terrific Final Fantasy games would have
been released on Nintendo's console instead of a competitor's
game machine. Nintendo may never be number one again unless
they acquire games like Castlevania, Grand Theft Auto,
Metal Gear Solid and incorporate online gameplay in more
games for their future game console.
About the Author
Kevin Scripter is the site owner of Zerogifts.com, an
online retailer of video games and DVD movies http://www.zerogifts.com.