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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

A CD drive at the time would have costed about $100 more. Nintendo ain't losing money on hardware.

So, maybe they would have gotten more market share, but ultimately Sony would still win I think.

Prior to the PS1 no console had crossed the hundred million mark. Including Nintendo's systems with all that third party support. The success of the PlayStation wasn't only about third parties. They made the system happen with a lot of great marketing and momentum. Even with a CD drive, Nintendo would still run into other problems, like their youth focused image and so forth. Sony expanded the industry back then.



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So in hindsight, Nintendo was the sacrificial lamb for the gaming industry to expand to what it is today. Had Nintendo won the 5th gen, it would've been bad for the industry as a whole.



Quodam_Diem said:
d21lewis said:

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.

You almost convinced me there. Great points. I still think a CD based N64 either wins or goes even up with Sony in that gen. The N64 was a mind blowing piece of tech, hindered by high cartridge prices and lack of third party support. If FFVII launches on the system we would have seen the RPG explosion take place in the N64 and today's nearly defunct genre was selling plenty of PS1 systems back in the 90s.



At the turn of Gen 5, Nintendo was still dominating the market with just how many exclusivity deals they had with third party developers. The decision to continue losing cartridges was what caused those companies to jump ship, simply because disc based media had a much higher storage capacity that meant their games could not even fit on cartridges anymore.

If the Nintendo 64 used CDs, those developers would have stayed with Nintendo. You could argue that those developers would have gone multiplatform, but at the time Nintendo was untouchable, so you have to wonder if the developers would even consider doing that. So it is a tough question to answer, but I think just due to their domination of the market at the time, Nintendo would have won



PortisheadBiscuit said:
So in hindsight, Nintendo was the sacrificial lamb for the gaming industry to expand to what it is today. Had Nintendo won the 5th gen, it would've been bad for the industry as a whole.

Eh, I wouldn't actually agree with that.

Personally I don't see any real downside to a CD-based N64 winning Gen 5.

Last edited by curl-6 - on 22 August 2019

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PortisheadBiscuit said:
So in hindsight, Nintendo was the sacrificial lamb for the gaming industry to expand to what it is today. Had Nintendo won the 5th gen, it would've been bad for the industry as a whole.

I'd rather have Nintendo-Sega industry to be honest than what we have now which is just bland PC boxes and two main console companies that basically just do the same thing. 

Tech was evolving just fine as NES to SNES to N64 to GameCube were all terrific hardware leaps. 



curl-6 said:
PortisheadBiscuit said:
So in hindsight, Nintendo was the sacrificial lamb for the gaming industry to expand to what it is today. Had Nintendo won the 5th gen, it would've been bad for the industry as a whole.

Eh, I wouldn't actually agree with that.

Personally I don't see any real downside to a CD-based N64 winning Gen 5.

Maybe he means that if Nintendo won then we might not have a "big three" now.



Predictions (Made July 2019)

LTD: PS4 - 130m, Switch - 110m, XBO - 52m       2019 : PS4 - 15m, Switch - 18.8m, XBO - 4.8m        2020: Switch - 22m (Peak Year)


Barkley said:
curl-6 said:

Eh, I wouldn't actually agree with that.

Personally I don't see any real downside to a CD-based N64 winning Gen 5.

Maybe he means that if Nintendo won then we might not have a "big three" now.

He refers to the "expansion" of the industry, but I hardly think an N64 victory using CDs would have somehow crippled the growth of the industry. Third parties would still have made the games they wanted to make, they just may not necessarily have been on the same platforms.



curl-6 said:
Barkley said:

Maybe he means that if Nintendo won then we might not have a "big three" now.

He refers to the "expansion" of the industry, but I hardly think an N64 victory using CDs would have somehow crippled the growth of the industry. Third parties would still have made the games they wanted to make, they just may not necessarily have been on the same platforms.

Sony not dominating the 5th gen would've stunted the growth of the industry IMO. They took gaming to a whole 'nother level Nintendo wouldn't have IMO. 



PortisheadBiscuit said:
curl-6 said:

He refers to the "expansion" of the industry, but I hardly think an N64 victory using CDs would have somehow crippled the growth of the industry. Third parties would still have made the games they wanted to make, they just may not necessarily have been on the same platforms.

Sony not dominating the 5th gen would've stunted the growth of the industry IMO. They took gaming to a whole 'nother level Nintendo wouldn't have IMO. 

I really don't see anything about gaming on the PS1 that a CD-equipped N64 couldn't have delivered. Also bear in mind PS1 would've still been there, it just wouldn't have had a near-monopoly.

Last edited by curl-6 - on 23 August 2019