Quantcast
Alternate history: N64 goes with CDs instead of cartridges

Forums - Gaming Discussion - Alternate history: N64 goes with CDs instead of cartridges

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

Nintendo going Cartridge changed everyone's fortunes.



Around the Network

Cool idea for a thread.

What made me buy a PS1 was FF7. I remember reading about it in Gamepro Magazine and being absolutely amazed by how great it looked. CGI in a videogame was like "holy shit wtf" at the time.

Ignoring the fact that if Nintendo had gone with CDs, that likely would have meant a partnership with Sony (and thus no PS1), I think that things would have been completely different.

Squaresoft would have released FF7 on the N64 and many more third party developers would have followed suit. I think Nintendo lost the gen because they didn't go with CDs.



In 1994 Sony was in partnership with Namco, at the time Namco was an Arcade powerhouse rivaling Sega with spectacular 3D games such as Ridge Racer, Tekken, Soul Edge and Time Crisis. Namco also made its arcade chipsets (System21, System22) based on Playstation hardware. Sony developed many great first party games, thanks to their internal development studios like Polyphony, games like Gran Turismo, Motor Toon GP, Jumping Flash, MediEvil, Arc the Lad, Legend of Dragoon. Several western developers were 2nd party to Sony, so Crash Bandicoot by Naughty Dogs and Spyro by Insomniac would never been released on anything else.

So, even with a N64 CDs, Sony would have had a strong console on the market. In fact, the PSX was somehow a "spiritual successor" to the SNES.

Anyway, a N64 with CDs could have kept Nintendo and Squaresoft together as partners, with Square games available exclusively for the N64! Games such as Final Fantasy 7-8-9, Legend of Mana, Chrono Cross, Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Einhander and Tobal.

In this scenario, there would have been a tough battle between the two company, and probably they could have ended up with similar results in terms of sold units, with Nintendo absolutely ahead in Japan while Sony in Europe.

Last edited by JimmyFantasy - on 22 August 2019

Quodam_Diem said:
Guys, despite the fact that I am a hude Nintendo fan, I can't but see the reality. By recognising that Nintendo was the king before Playstation arrived, you underestimate Sony. First of all, the greatest factor I believe that Nintendo would still lose to Sony this generation, is the fact that her relationship with 3 Parties were as you all know not the best. The basic reason why 3 parties had their games on Nintendo platforms, had to do with the restricted policies Nintendo had towards to them and of course because Nintendo had the biggest market shares. Why do you think that even with a CD based N64, all these companies would still stick with them, when it's more than obvious that Sony tried and succedeed to have much better relations with them.

Why do you think that so many companies that were exclusively on the PS1/PS2 jumped ship to the Xbox 360 early on? Why did so many exclusive Xbox 360 franchises jump ship to the PS4? Companies go where the money is.

The SNES lost ground to the Genesis (Sega's second home console) because the Genesis had a huge headstart. People mostly bought one console back then.

The PS3 lost ground to the Xbox 360 (Microsoft's second console) because it had a huge headstart.

With the PS1, Sony was unproven in the home console market and lackluster as a third party company. People actually waited until the N64 came out and initially it was on fire...then, new games started taking forever to come out. PS1 versions had more content. PS1 got tons of exclusives. 

The PS1 was simply the only viable console that could produce the kind of experience that developers wanted to make at the time. Cutscenes, symphony quality music, large worlds, tons of voice acting.

If the N64 could deliver that, and was still twice as powerful, and still only $199 at launch, I just don't see how developers could ignore it. The N64 was a powerful powerful console. More powerful that PCs when it launched (if I'm not mistaken). The Nintendo name was still strong. We can't change history but I think things would have been drastically different.



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

d21lewis said:

The N64 was a powerful powerful console. More powerful that PCs when it launched (if I'm not mistaken).

More powerful than most PCs, certainly. There was 3dfx Voodoo card for PCs (which was better than N64), but it was pure 3D accelerator (going for around $200) and you had to have regular 2D card in addition to display anything. But it was mind blowing at the time seeing Quake running on it.



Around the Network

I just think it is funny that most seem to be taking a very rose glassed alternative reality option. One where Nintendo having CD would make everything right.

Where we could alternatively have a CD on N64, but the rest of the HW because of this decision end up being a Saturn equivalent... See Sega had established brand power, CD, but still couldn't outsell even N64.

So Sony wouldn't just drop all those sales just because CD was available on N64. As put before, GC had DVD and failed even harder than N64 (and at that point Nintendo should bee humbler right?), Wii didn't even try to compete anymore.



duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=8808363

Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=9008994

DonFerrari said:
I just think it is funny that most seem to be taking a very rose glassed alternative reality option. One where Nintendo having CD would make everything right.

Where we could alternatively have a CD on N64, but the rest of the HW because of this decision end up being a Saturn equivalent... See Sega had established brand power, CD, but still couldn't outsell even N64.

So Sony wouldn't just drop all those sales just because CD was available on N64. As put before, GC had DVD and failed even harder than N64 (and at that point Nintendo should bee humbler right?), Wii didn't even try to compete anymore.

Because Mario 64 was mind blowing enough, and the Hardware equally impressive to set record sales at launch. The only thing slowed its momentum was the lack of games (with third parties bolting to Sony mainly because of the Cartridge restraints and prices) and  the few games available being incredibly pricey because of the Cartridge format.  Nintendo could have won that gen had they gone CD, they were in a much better position (and had much better Hardware) than indebted Sega to succeed.



SammyGiireal said:
DonFerrari said:
I just think it is funny that most seem to be taking a very rose glassed alternative reality option. One where Nintendo having CD would make everything right.

Where we could alternatively have a CD on N64, but the rest of the HW because of this decision end up being a Saturn equivalent... See Sega had established brand power, CD, but still couldn't outsell even N64.

So Sony wouldn't just drop all those sales just because CD was available on N64. As put before, GC had DVD and failed even harder than N64 (and at that point Nintendo should bee humbler right?), Wii didn't even try to compete anymore.

Because Mario 64 was mind blowing enough, and the Hardware equally impressive to set record sales at launch. The only thing slowed its momentum was the lack of games (with third parties bolting to Sony mainly because of the Cartridge restraints and prices) and  the few games available being incredibly pricey because of the Cartridge format.  Nintendo could have won that gen had they gone CD, they were in a much better position (and had much better Hardware) than indebted Sega to succeed.

And the assurance that the HW would be the same and Mario 64 would be the same is? Oh yes, because we have to keep best scenario possible.

Funny enough I bought PS1 due to playing Tekken with a friend and discovering GT.



duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=8808363

Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/post.php?id=9008994

Much of the third-party support exodus was specifically because of the fact that the N64 didn't use CDs. The early generation Playstation games didn't drive the PSX sales forward, it was only when the games that WOULD have been on N64 came out for it that it began to sell: Capcom, Konami, and Square games particularly. It's also unlikely that a lot of the smaller devs like Koei would have developed anything for the PSX under these circumstances.

Capcom and Square were instrumental in the SNES's success, and then in 95/96 they went exclusively Sony when both companies were (at the time) at the height of their popularity. The upward trajectory of both companies with Resident Evil DC, Resident Evil 2, and Final Fantasy 7 was only upward from there forward.

Capcom would only come back to Nintendo three years later in late 1999 with a paltry offering of 2 games (an inferior port of Resident Evil 2 which cost 4X as much, and a Tetris game), and then Mega Man 64 after 2000. While Capcom had returned, their major success remained on Sony consoles; they attempted to become the #2 party on Sega with Dreamcast, but the console flopped, and then they tried the same thing on Gamecube but found they had to simplify controls or not release games at all due to the Gamecube controller; again, another failed experiment. Capcom tried a couple more times: they saw some success with the Wii, but it wasn't until the 3DS that they began to flourish on Nintendo hardware again.

Square, on the other hand would remain a Playstation exclusive developer until merging with Capcom in 2003 when they began releasing games on Nintendo's handheld consoles, and a trickle of B-titles on their home consoles (primarily FF Crystal Chronicles, a genericized version of Final Fantasy with a vastly lower budget). The Square side remains focused on Playstation to this day.

These two things could have been completely different. Had Nintendo gone with CDs, Capcom and Square would have largely remained Nintendo exclusives during the Playstation generation, and these two companies alone were vital to the PSX's success and establishing the Sony brand. Theey were also not alone, Konami tried to maintain Nintendo as their primary platform, but some of their games required far more space: Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Suikoden 1 and 2, for starters. These would have been Nintendo exclusives had history been different: and who knows about Metal Gear Solid, Playstation may not have been an option for that game.

What people don't seem to recall is that Sony was not even seen as remotely important until they began getting all sorts of Nintendo exclusives that people recognized and plastering them in the commercials, then later with the "Now with over 200 games" ad around the N64 launch. While they saw success (9 million consoles sold in about 2-2.5 years) They didn't begin to win until after Nintendo began to lose: this resulted from the Nintendo's disastrous N64 launch which included obscenely high priced games, lack of content, and missing pre-rendered graphics which had been all the rage since Donkey Kong Country. The result of this, 11 million more units sold in the 10 months after the N64 launch, so Sony went to 20 million units, and N64 sales had died due to the fact that 10 months later the number of games on retail shelves for the N64 hadn't changed a great deal, meanwhile Playstation had more than tripled its already impressive library, they were advertising 500 games when you could literally list every one of the 2 dozen or so N64 games available in your head, and you probably knew most to all of the games announced (if you were a Nintendo fan like me).

Had the N64 had CDs, it would have launched with Street Fighter Alpha 2 and Resident Evil, instead of a dozen new games over a 6-10 month period, it would be 2-300 new games, with Final Fantasy 7 topping that list off. Variety alone would have made a difference, but the fact that new games would only be about 1/2 to 2/3rds the price, there's no doubt that the N64 wouldn't have had an even stronger 1997 than Sony ended up having.

What would have happened to Playstation? It wouldn't have received that initial boost of relevance from gaining all those Nintendo exclusives from third parties who required CDs. All that hype would have gone into the N64. It wouldn't be the console getting games at about a 15:1 ratio to the competition. It would have no edge since the N64 was significantly more powerful (it was somewhat bottlenecked due to the fact that all that power could only be used to run 8-32MB games, while PSX could do multi-disk games ranging 100X times that space for a far cheaper price). No doubt, the Playstation would have remained that obscure console that is "still better than Sega Saturn at least." Kind of like how 3DO was better than Atari Jaguar.

Anyway, the world would look very different. I wonder if Microsoft would have become involved with the console industry? Was it Sony that influenced them? Or was it Sega? (since they worked with Sega).

Hard to say, but Nintendo would have dominated the industry quite heavily. We probably wouldn't have had a Gamecube, it is more likely that Nintendo would have allowed the N64 to live a few years longer and jumped to Wii or a Wii-like console earlier. The Gamecube was a bit of a stopgap, they had been looking for that next big thing after 3D; and during the N64 era it became clear that Nintendo had been looking for some sort of advancement in controllers (even Sega had been talking about it), but that never materialized.

One other thing that would have happened was the Wii would have been a lot more expensive and a lot more powerful. Part of the reason for them dropping the power of the Wii was they saw an advantage to having a cheaper price and no advantage to having larger power (after the failures of the N64 and Gamecube). The Wii motion controls would have likely remained the core feature since revolutions in gaming interface had been a feature of Nintendo from the birth of their first console onward. The Gamecube was probably a stopgap because the best thing they came up with was a big green central button which turned out to be problematic for action games which was probably their poorest attempt (aside from maybe the Wii U's big screen in the middle of the controller which split the attention in a very disruptive way, at least with the DS it isn't a problem to look at both screens at once).

One more thing, I think the Wii would have received a DS-Lite like revision since Nintendo releasing it earlier would probably mean that they would be using an older revision of their hardware.

On generational growth. While the NES sold more than the SNES, this is because it was available for about double the time in some regions. NES was a weird generation. The demographic of gamers was clearly growing steadily from the 80s onward. While people point out that European countries had a drastic increase in sales from SNES to Playstation, it is ignoring that many in European countries simply gamed on other platforms (My first console was a VC 20). The NES and SNES had really clumsy launches, and so availability was weird (if you're a gamer as old as me, you might remember driving all day just to reach a city where they sold an NES for a decent price), as well, Nintendo was a Japanese company, and so most games came from Japanese studios, many weren't released in EFIGS or to the PAL consoles, so we had to import and use Fire converters to get the games running, then about 1994 emulation became very popular in European countries. What I am trying to get at is that the Playstation didn't create the market growth, the market growth was in progress, but some of the games on Playstation did heavily expand it. While games like Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy 7 may not have sold to everyone who had a Playstation, just about everyone who had one played these games at some point. Crash Bandicoot was kind of popular in a "Well I guess Sony needs a mascot too" sort of way, it was the game your mom got for you at Christmas, not a really high-demand game that gamers themselves bought. Gran Turismo was that game that looked flashy, probably came with your console, and you played 1-2 times and then not again (though some did become big fans of it).


ANYWAY! I'm ranting a lot and am probably making a lot of incomplete thoughts. To summarize my positions.
1. N64 wouldn't have had the droughts due to a significantly higher software output.
2. N64 wouldn't have had the overly long cartridge related dev times.
3. N64 games wouldn't have cost WAY more than they should have (CDs are cheaper).
4. N64 would have exceeded Playstation's success, and been the first home console to 100+ million, maybe 120M since it would have bit into the early 2000s expansion.
5. Playstation would have remained the 3DO range of obscurity.
6. Gamecube probably wouldn't exist.
7. The N64 would have gone a few years longer.
8. The Wii would have launched a couple years earlier.
9. The Wii would have been more powerful
10. There would be a "Wii Lite" revision similar to the DS Lite due to the first one probably not being the sleek design they originally envisioned.
11. Nintendo would have remained the dominant company in the console and handheld market int he same way Windows dominates the PC OS market.
12. No doubt Nintendo would have been the exclusive home of peripheral games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Would we have got a 3DS? Would we have got a Wii U? A Switch? I don't know. My gut says probably not. At least not until much later after the technology became viable, since Nintendo's core console for the Wii U generation would have no doubt been more powerful.

Last edited by Jumpin - on 22 August 2019

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

d21lewis said:
Quodam_Diem said:
Guys, despite the fact that I am a hude Nintendo fan, I can't but see the reality. By recognising that Nintendo was the king before Playstation arrived, you underestimate Sony. First of all, the greatest factor I believe that Nintendo would still lose to Sony this generation, is the fact that her relationship with 3 Parties were as you all know not the best. The basic reason why 3 parties had their games on Nintendo platforms, had to do with the restricted policies Nintendo had towards to them and of course because Nintendo had the biggest market shares. Why do you think that even with a CD based N64, all these companies would still stick with them, when it's more than obvious that Sony tried and succedeed to have much better relations with them.

Why do you think that so many companies that were exclusively on the PS1/PS2 jumped ship to the Xbox 360 early on? Why did so many exclusive Xbox 360 franchises jump ship to the PS4? Companies go where the money is.

The SNES lost ground to the Genesis (Sega's second home console) because the Genesis had a huge headstart. People mostly bought one console back then.

The PS3 lost ground to the Xbox 360 (Microsoft's second console) because it had a huge headstart.

With the PS1, Sony was unproven in the home console market and lackluster as a third party company. People actually waited until the N64 came out and initially it was on fire...then, new games started taking forever to come out. PS1 versions had more content. PS1 got tons of exclusives. 

The PS1 was simply the only viable console that could produce the kind of experience that developers wanted to make at the time. Cutscenes, symphony quality music, large worlds, tons of voice acting.

If the N64 could deliver that, and was still twice as powerful, and still only $199 at launch, I just don't see how developers could ignore it. The N64 was a powerful powerful console. More powerful that PCs when it launched (if I'm not mistaken). The Nintendo name was still strong. We can't change history but I think things would have been drastically different.

What I said was clear, but I don't have any problem to repeat it. The basic problem was about Nintendo, not a console which mistakenly was decided to have cartridges. We had already seen a generation before that Nintendo was losing ground and this had to do with their policies. Monopoly, high prices, big compromises and restrictions for the 3 parties. So, this is why many developers moved to genesis, because their product would have a much better support and sales to this console, when Nintendo for one more time,would somehow sabotage them. And what happened with the Playstation is the natural evolution to this story. Even with the defeat of N64, Nintendo didn't seem to change their mind. They continued the same strategy. We promote our image for our customers and not for a widen audience. It's not strange that the second console of Nintendo lost its ground despite its win over Genesis, while the PS2 not only had a much bigger impact in the industry, than  its predecessor but also established Sony as the No1 brand in gaming.

It's not about the format, it's not about the power. There are many other factors that determine if a console will win. Obviously, with a CD format, N64 wouldn't have lost FF, but who tells me that Sony in the end wouldn't have succeeded to bring it to its own console too. But, that would only have effect in Japan. Not in Europe where Nintendo was nonexistent, not in ROTW. Even in America Nintendo had lost about 10 million customers (It's a miracle how N64 achieved the same numbers as SNES).

As for the examples you mentioned I want to make some comments. Because a console has a headstart that doesn't mean it's going to be a victory for it. PS3 had been losing ground the first year due to its high price and hard development for the developers. But, in the end it achieved to make the same numbers (even a little more). Wii U had also a headstart but we know how it ended.

But, one more thing. We can't compare Sony and Nintendo. Two completely different ways of thinking. Sony despite the fact that was losing a generation achieved  a come back. While Nintendo since 1991 where they started losing momentum untill today, continue to stick with their old and out dated methods. So, yeah I still have many reasons to not only believe, but to be sure that N64 would have lost. 

And of course, many developers would have really liked to bring their games to N64, but Nintendo would have kicked them out with their logic for one more time.