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Alternate history: N64 goes with CDs instead of cartridges

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What do you think would've been the outcome?

N64 would've won the gen 40 62.50%
 
PS1 still would've won 24 37.50%
 
Total:64

As others have said, the major game changer, literally, in this alternate scenario is that FFVII comes to the N64, possibly as an exclusive. If it's as an exclusive, I don't see Nintendo's dominance ending nearly as quickly. People don't realize just how stupid a blunder Nintendo's insistence on sticking with cartridges was. That was THE moment they screwed themselves on 3rd party support, and they never really recovered. With Gamecube they made the problem worse by insisting on those stupid little disks, then with the Wii they stopped making their consoles powerful, and the Wii U, well...

For sure though, the N64 would have done way, way better if it hadn't stuck with cartridges. It's obviously impossible to know, but I suspect they'd have outsold the SNES, and probably the NES as well. If it only sold better than the SNES I think the PS1 would've just outsold it by 10 or 15 million or so. But if it outsold the NES, I think it would've also outsold the PS1.



SanAndreasX said:
DonFerrari said:
FF VII made PS1 relevant and other games that depended on the CD to have the cutscenes may have not gone to PS1. That wouldn't be a reality I would like to live on.
But Nintendo relationship with several companies were already on shake basis so perhaps not all would change.

Square and Enix were the ones that mattered the most by far, and they were pretty Nintendo-loyal.

Namco had always had a bad relationship with Nintendo ever since their dispute over re-negotiating Namco's licensing terms for the NES, so that wouldn't have changed. But Tekken on its own wasn't enough to turn the tide for Sony. 

Capcom and Konami would have been multiplatform. Konami was Nintendo's biggest Japanese supporter on N64. Sony might have tried to get MGS as a PS1 exclusive anyway, but MGS wasn't as huge of a series sales-wise as its fans like to make it out to be. 

Sony's deal with Namco to have their  arcade board's  based on the PS1 chipset allowed for a straight forward porting scenario, so it's support wouldn't have changed, Nintendo's adoption of a disc drive and what amount of success that would ultimately bring, depends on a number of hypertheticals, like the timing of the decision and how much the manufacturing timeline was impacted by the decision, all of this is important because, unlike a like a lot of replies that seem to assume a disc base N64 = FF7 a sealed deal with Sony rolling over. Instead depending on that timing Sony would have spent it redoubling its efforts on other fronts, game size wasn't the only factor in swaying developers,or if it was later ensuring it kept those exclusive deals. thats the great thing about hypothetical situations change a few variables and it's a whole new game.



Obviously, Sony would have still won, but the N64 would have performed better, most likely. You have to remember that no CD wasn't the problem itself, but a symptom of a larger problem. Nintendo was very arrogant back then. They thought they were better than everyone else. They weren't really good to their 3rd party devs/pubs in terms of tech support or giving them good deals on cartridges and a cut of the profit. They could make deals with companies and just pull out the day the announcement of said deal. It's why many jumped ship to Sega, either completely or with multiplats, the second the Genesis started picking up steam. Unfortunately for Sega, they felt threatened by the PS1, so made their own bonehead moves with the Saturn, that ultimately turned off retailers and 3rd parties, in an attempt to get a headstart.

So, them thinking they didn't need CD was a part of an overall arrogance. They were Nintendo. They had been using cartridges for two gens, so they could continue to use them. In the end, the PS1 was just the better platform for 3rd parties, regardless of CDs. Had a much better controller, too.

Edit: Also, a disc-based N64 doesn't necessarily mean FF7 would have been an exclusive on it.  It could have very well have been mulitplat, or Sony could have made a better deal for a share of the profits from said game.  Remember that Sony published the game in all regions outside of Japan, so took those costs on themselves.  This was a time of great Nintendo arrogance, I would bet they would think they didn't need Square's games to succeed, so wouldn't have cut them such a great deal.

Last edited by thismeintiel - on 13 August 2019

Crazy how this one simple change of format for a single system could potentially have so massively changed the course of gaming over the last two decades. It's like the butterfly effect.



HylianSwordsman said:
As others have said, the major game changer, literally, in this alternate scenario is that FFVII comes to the N64, possibly as an exclusive. If it's as an exclusive, I don't see Nintendo's dominance ending nearly as quickly. People don't realize just how stupid a blunder Nintendo's insistence on sticking with cartridges was. That was THE moment they screwed themselves on 3rd party support, and they never really recovered. With Gamecube they made the problem worse by insisting on those stupid little disks, then with the Wii they stopped making their consoles powerful, and the Wii U, well...

For sure though, the N64 would have done way, way better if it hadn't stuck with cartridges. It's obviously impossible to know, but I suspect they'd have outsold the SNES, and probably the NES as well. If it only sold better than the SNES I think the PS1 would've just outsold it by 10 or 15 million or so. But if it outsold the NES, I think it would've also outsold the PS1.

I agree with everything you are saying, but sticking with cartridges wasn't actually the dumbest part.  The dumbest part is that Sony was originally their business partner.  Nintendo brought Sony into the gaming space, so that Sony could develop a CD based system for them.  After Sony develops the hardware, the Nintendo Playstation, Nintendo backs out and partners with Phillips instead to make the CD-i (e.g. Wand of Gamelon, etc...).

Nintendo could have actually had Sony as their partner.  Instead they turned Sony into their competitor.  This was the ultimate self-destruct move.  Nintendo wasn't anti-CD or anything.  They just backed out of their original CD system, the Nintendo Playstation, because they got a better deal from Phillips instead.



curl-6 said:

Crazy how this one simple change of format for a single system could potentially have so massively changed the course of gaming over the last two decades. It's like the butterfly effect.

That's a little naive, don't you think?  Sure, the wouldn't have been at a disadvantage in terms of media storage.  However, that doesn't do anything to change the fact that Nintendo had the mentality that 3rd party devs/pubs needed them, not that they were in a partnership, which is how Sega and Sony treated it.  Sony still would have snagged plenty of exclusives, which may have still included FF7, and just as many multiplats.



thismeintiel said:
curl-6 said:

Crazy how this one simple change of format for a single system could potentially have so massively changed the course of gaming over the last two decades. It's like the butterfly effect.

That's a little naive, don't you think?  Sure, the wouldn't have been at a disadvantage in terms of media storage.  However, that doesn't do anything to change the fact that Nintendo had the mentality that 3rd party devs/pubs needed them, not that they were in a partnership, which is how Sega and Sony treated it.  Sony still would have snagged plenty of exclusives, which may have still included FF7, and just as many multiplats.

No, I don't think it's naive to say it potentially could have. Obviously we can never know for sure.

Last edited by curl-6 - on 14 August 2019

The_Liquid_Laser said:
HylianSwordsman said:
As others have said, the major game changer, literally, in this alternate scenario is that FFVII comes to the N64, possibly as an exclusive. If it's as an exclusive, I don't see Nintendo's dominance ending nearly as quickly. People don't realize just how stupid a blunder Nintendo's insistence on sticking with cartridges was. That was THE moment they screwed themselves on 3rd party support, and they never really recovered. With Gamecube they made the problem worse by insisting on those stupid little disks, then with the Wii they stopped making their consoles powerful, and the Wii U, well...

For sure though, the N64 would have done way, way better if it hadn't stuck with cartridges. It's obviously impossible to know, but I suspect they'd have outsold the SNES, and probably the NES as well. If it only sold better than the SNES I think the PS1 would've just outsold it by 10 or 15 million or so. But if it outsold the NES, I think it would've also outsold the PS1.

I agree with everything you are saying, but sticking with cartridges wasn't actually the dumbest part.  The dumbest part is that Sony was originally their business partner.  Nintendo brought Sony into the gaming space, so that Sony could develop a CD based system for them.  After Sony develops the hardware, the Nintendo Playstation, Nintendo backs out and partners with Phillips instead to make the CD-i (e.g. Wand of Gamelon, etc...).

Nintendo could have actually had Sony as their partner.  Instead they turned Sony into their competitor.  This was the ultimate self-destruct move.  Nintendo wasn't anti-CD or anything.  They just backed out of their original CD system, the Nintendo Playstation, because they got a better deal from Phillips instead.

It all depends on which story you want to believe. On one side, yes Sony was their partner developing hardware and Sony got betrayed in the deal. On the other hand, peripherals were more often than not failures and Sony stood to potentially make an unfair amount of profits off of the Nintendo name.

Sony was already in the gaming industry but they weren't exactly setting the world on fire with their software. 



Twitter: @d21lewis  --I'll add you if you add me!!

KungKras said:
Nintendo would have won. But it would come at the price of the open worlds in Super Mario 64 and Zelda OoT, which would have been impossible without the fast access speed of cartridges.

Driver 1, GTA precursor on PS1...not sure if it used streaming from CD, but it had big open world.

curl-6 said:

Crazy how this one simple change of format for a single system could potentially have so massively changed the course of gaming over the last two decades. It's like the butterfly effect.

I don't think it's a simple matter of format, but the business desicions that lead to Nintendo going with CD.

IMO, it would mean they've recognized problems 3rd parties had with them and their draconian policies - and that would be much more important for future relationships and hardware design philosophy, potentially giving us Nintendo that has strong footing in what is current PS/Xbox market...if Xbox even exists in that timeline.

Last edited by HoloDust - on 14 August 2019

I think N64 would've won. FF7 would've definitely released on the N64, along with a string of third party games that would've most probably gone multiplat (possibly exclusive for Nintendo) as theonly reason they went to Sony was because of how cheap CD's were and how large their file sizes were compared to cartridges.

If you add those to Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Banjo, Goldeneye, Smash, Mario Kart and a whole bunch of Nintendo titles, that easily could've beat the PS in my opinion



YNWA