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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 36 63.16%
 
PS1 still would've won 21 36.84%
 
Total:57
d21lewis said:
The_Liquid_Laser said:

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. 

Do you have a source for this side of the story?  I have read more than one book about this topic and I have never heard anything like the bolded statement.



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OTBWY said:
Hynad said:

Final Fantasy VII almost single-handedly tilted the balance in favour of the PS1.
If the N64 had gone the CD route, Squaresoft would have stayed with Nintendo, and the battle between both consoles wouldn’t have been as one sided.

Not entirely true. In fact, Square was working with Sony before there was any idea of FFVII. Secret of Mana was supposed to come out for the SNES-CD addon, but due to reason known, the game had to be cut significantly to go on a regular SNES cartridge. There are sources that even say that this very experience is one of the if not the main reason why Square went along with Sony, after they broke off and made their own competing console. Square continued with Nintendo's SNES for a while because.. well.. it was the best selling console in Japan by far. 

This was not just a format change that made Square switch, but a more business and cultural one. Both of them got fairly close as companies and Square didn't release any game (other than FF) for the N64. 

I’m sorry?

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Producer and executive vice president, Square Japan; Chairman and chief executive officer, Square USA

Of course, back then I wasn’t the president of Square. There was a management level above me, and I talked with them to make the decision. But PlayStation games being on CDs was the biggest factor. If you wanted to make a 3D action game on a Nintendo 64 cartridge with that limited space, you could do it. But I wanted to create a 3D role-playing game. It was very clear in my head what I wanted to make, but that would have been difficult on Nintendo’s hardware. …The biggest problem was, of course, memory. Based on our calculations there was no way it could all fit on a ROM cartridge. So our main reason for choosing the PlayStation was really just because it was the only console which would allow us to use CD-ROM media.

Shinichiro Kajitani

Vice president, Square USA

At that time, Square was really close to Nintendo — we were basically like a second party for them. So when their new system was in development, we gave them lots of advice, like, “You’re going to need a CD-ROM drive for it,” “You don’t have enough bandwidth to do what we’re trying to do,” and, “With what you have now, we’re not going to be able to make an RPG.” We gave them lots of advice. But [Nintendo president] Yamauchi-san at Nintendo basically refused to listen to any of it. And that’s when Sakaguchi-san and the management team at Square decided, “OK, we’re going to go with Sony now.”

https://gonintendo.com/stories/289651-square-enix-opens-up-about-trying-to-make-final-fantasy-vii-for-n

What you mention about the SNES CD add-on most likely contributed, considering they were having the same struggle making the games they wanted for Nintendo’s hardware, but there is no denying FF VII was the tipping point. 

You can make conjectures based on what happened with Mana and the SNES-CD, but Sakaguchi and co have been candid about the reasons from the very beginning and their story has always remained the same throughout the years

Last edited by Hynad - on 14 August 2019

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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.

Yep Nintendo created Playstation... more or less.



Hynad said:
OTBWY said:

Not entirely true. In fact, Square was working with Sony before there was any idea of FFVII. Secret of Mana was supposed to come out for the SNES-CD addon, but due to reason known, the game had to be cut significantly to go on a regular SNES cartridge. There are sources that even say that this very experience is one of the if not the main reason why Square went along with Sony, after they broke off and made their own competing console. Square continued with Nintendo's SNES for a while because.. well.. it was the best selling console in Japan by far. 

This was not just a format change that made Square switch, but a more business and cultural one. Both of them got fairly close as companies and Square didn't release any game (other than FF) for the N64. 

I’m sorry?

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Producer and executive vice president, Square Japan; Chairman and chief executive officer, Square USA

Of course, back then I wasn’t the president of Square. There was a management level above me, and I talked with them to make the decision. But PlayStation games being on CDs was the biggest factor. If you wanted to make a 3D action game on a Nintendo 64 cartridge with that limited space, you could do it. But I wanted to create a 3D role-playing game. It was very clear in my head what I wanted to make, but that would have been difficult on Nintendo’s hardware. …The biggest problem was, of course, memory. Based on our calculations there was no way it could all fit on a ROM cartridge. So our main reason for choosing the PlayStation was really just because it was the only console which would allow us to use CD-ROM media.

Shinichiro Kajitani

Vice president, Square USA

At that time, Square was really close to Nintendo — we were basically like a second party for them. So when their new system was in development, we gave them lots of advice, like, “You’re going to need a CD-ROM drive for it,” “You don’t have enough bandwidth to do what we’re trying to do,” and, “With what you have now, we’re not going to be able to make an RPG.” We gave them lots of advice. But [Nintendo president] Yamauchi-san at Nintendo basically refused to listen to any of it. And that’s when Sakaguchi-san and the management team at Square decided, “OK, we’re going to go with Sony now.”

https://gonintendo.com/stories/289651-square-enix-opens-up-about-trying-to-make-final-fantasy-vii-for-n

^ whats crazy is that Nintendo hasnt changed.

They still design hardware, around their own wants and needs, and basically ignore 3rd party input (on hardware).



Hynad said:
OTBWY said:

Not entirely true. In fact, Square was working with Sony before there was any idea of FFVII. Secret of Mana was supposed to come out for the SNES-CD addon, but due to reason known, the game had to be cut significantly to go on a regular SNES cartridge. There are sources that even say that this very experience is one of the if not the main reason why Square went along with Sony, after they broke off and made their own competing console. Square continued with Nintendo's SNES for a while because.. well.. it was the best selling console in Japan by far. 

This was not just a format change that made Square switch, but a more business and cultural one. Both of them got fairly close as companies and Square didn't release any game (other than FF) for the N64. 

I’m sorry?

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Producer and executive vice president, Square Japan; Chairman and chief executive officer, Square USA

Of course, back then I wasn’t the president of Square. There was a management level above me, and I talked with them to make the decision. But PlayStation games being on CDs was the biggest factor. If you wanted to make a 3D action game on a Nintendo 64 cartridge with that limited space, you could do it. But I wanted to create a 3D role-playing game. It was very clear in my head what I wanted to make, but that would have been difficult on Nintendo’s hardware. …The biggest problem was, of course, memory. Based on our calculations there was no way it could all fit on a ROM cartridge. So our main reason for choosing the PlayStation was really just because it was the only console which would allow us to use CD-ROM media.

Shinichiro Kajitani

Vice president, Square USA

At that time, Square was really close to Nintendo — we were basically like a second party for them. So when their new system was in development, we gave them lots of advice, like, “You’re going to need a CD-ROM drive for it,” “You don’t have enough bandwidth to do what we’re trying to do,” and, “With what you have now, we’re not going to be able to make an RPG.” We gave them lots of advice. But [Nintendo president] Yamauchi-san at Nintendo basically refused to listen to any of it. And that’s when Sakaguchi-san and the management team at Square decided, “OK, we’re going to go with Sony now.”

https://gonintendo.com/stories/289651-square-enix-opens-up-about-trying-to-make-final-fantasy-vii-for-n

What you mention about the SNES CD add-on most likely contributed, considering they were having the same struggle making the games they wanted for Nintendo’s hardware, but there is no denying FF VII was the tipping point. 

You can make conjectures based on what happened with Mana and the SNES-CD, but Sakaguchi and co have been candid about the reasons from the very beginning and their story has always remained the same throughout the years

I just want to double on the "main factor", but not the only one. Like they said it would be hard to do it, but seems like there were other lesser reasons to change.

And considering Sony paid money for Tomb Raider to be on its platform it is likely that if they really wanted FF VII they would have paid for it as well. And considering Nintendo arrogance I don't think they would have stepped in with more money. I doubt that for even a second Nintendo though they were in any risk.



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"

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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.

That's a pretty fair point, although I think Nintendo would've adapted but who knows what kind of games those would've been. 

This video explains some of the different game design choices based on the limitations of their respective hardware:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhKX_i4BlGs

I doubt Ocarina would've been the same game, having to reuse so many assets and going to the same locations again to complete different dungeons. That design choice was out of necessity rather than choice. 

That being said, just the overall draw of Nintendo would've been too appealing for most gamers



YNWA

FFVII was important, but I still think pricing was the biggest problem. ps1 was $40 games, N64 quite often $80. That was a killer.



Hynad said:
OTBWY said:

Not entirely true. In fact, Square was working with Sony before there was any idea of FFVII. Secret of Mana was supposed to come out for the SNES-CD addon, but due to reason known, the game had to be cut significantly to go on a regular SNES cartridge. There are sources that even say that this very experience is one of the if not the main reason why Square went along with Sony, after they broke off and made their own competing console. Square continued with Nintendo's SNES for a while because.. well.. it was the best selling console in Japan by far. 

This was not just a format change that made Square switch, but a more business and cultural one. Both of them got fairly close as companies and Square didn't release any game (other than FF) for the N64. 

I’m sorry?

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Producer and executive vice president, Square Japan; Chairman and chief executive officer, Square USA

Of course, back then I wasn’t the president of Square. There was a management level above me, and I talked with them to make the decision. But PlayStation games being on CDs was the biggest factor. If you wanted to make a 3D action game on a Nintendo 64 cartridge with that limited space, you could do it. But I wanted to create a 3D role-playing game. It was very clear in my head what I wanted to make, but that would have been difficult on Nintendo’s hardware. …The biggest problem was, of course, memory. Based on our calculations there was no way it could all fit on a ROM cartridge. So our main reason for choosing the PlayStation was really just because it was the only console which would allow us to use CD-ROM media.

Shinichiro Kajitani

Vice president, Square USA

At that time, Square was really close to Nintendo — we were basically like a second party for them. So when their new system was in development, we gave them lots of advice, like, “You’re going to need a CD-ROM drive for it,” “You don’t have enough bandwidth to do what we’re trying to do,” and, “With what you have now, we’re not going to be able to make an RPG.” We gave them lots of advice. But [Nintendo president] Yamauchi-san at Nintendo basically refused to listen to any of it. And that’s when Sakaguchi-san and the management team at Square decided, “OK, we’re going to go with Sony now.”

https://gonintendo.com/stories/289651-square-enix-opens-up-about-trying-to-make-final-fantasy-vii-for-n

What you mention about the SNES CD add-on most likely contributed, considering they were having the same struggle making the games they wanted for Nintendo’s hardware, but there is no denying FF VII was the tipping point. 

You can make conjectures based on what happened with Mana and the SNES-CD, but Sakaguchi and co have been candid about the reasons from the very beginning and their story has always remained the same throughout the years

You're not reading. The game itself was not the tipping point as you put it, the format was. IE: The CD format that they previously worked with Sony on. This is the sole reason their relationship started (as Sony continued to woo Square) and culminated with the breakaway when Sony released their console and Nintendo came with the N64.

The reasoning has changed over many years, ergo, I don't completely trust anything coming from Sakaguchi at that. It has to do with various reasons, for example not wanting to step on certain toes. To be even more clear why I think this:

"It wasn’t really “officially” in development for the Nintendo 64. It was more like we were experimenting with the hardware." - Yoshinori Kitase

"Anyway, we made a 2,000-count polygon version of Behemoth for the Nintendo 64, but when we rendered and animated it, the framerate was way too low. To properly display Behemoth with that technology, we needed 2,000 polygons, but it was a little too much for the hardware. That was part of the problem with choosing Nintendo."- Yoshinori Kitase

That very same source comes from the Polygon article, which I recommend. Anyway, with this they allude to the reason being power not being the way they wanted, and that's why the game didn't come. So stories clearly vary. However, you have to think that not a single game came from Square, so there was more to it than just a format decision, it was clear than Square grew close to Sony and the Playstation team, hence their clear break. it doesn't however change the fact of what started way sooner.

Either way, putting that aside, I don't even believe FFVII tipped the scale in favour of the PS1 that much, it was just as many here have said already. The PS1 had more games. That third party support was the key factor. I don't think Square staying with N64 would have changed that. In fact, it would have probably decreased their output significantly, so the impact wouldn't be that much more. The only thing I could see happening in that scenario, was that the N64 would have been more popular in Japan, definitely not lagging behind the Saturn as it did.



The PS1 wouldn't have been top dog, I see it as the XB360vsPS3 situation where sales number would be neck and neck with one side just barely beating out the other.



Currently Playing: SSB: Ultimate Splatoon 2, LoZ: Breath of the Wild, & Fortnite

JRPGfan said:
Hynad said:

I’m sorry?

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Producer and executive vice president, Square Japan; Chairman and chief executive officer, Square USA

Of course, back then I wasn’t the president of Square. There was a management level above me, and I talked with them to make the decision. But PlayStation games being on CDs was the biggest factor. If you wanted to make a 3D action game on a Nintendo 64 cartridge with that limited space, you could do it. But I wanted to create a 3D role-playing game. It was very clear in my head what I wanted to make, but that would have been difficult on Nintendo’s hardware. …The biggest problem was, of course, memory. Based on our calculations there was no way it could all fit on a ROM cartridge. So our main reason for choosing the PlayStation was really just because it was the only console which would allow us to use CD-ROM media.

Shinichiro Kajitani

Vice president, Square USA

At that time, Square was really close to Nintendo — we were basically like a second party for them. So when their new system was in development, we gave them lots of advice, like, “You’re going to need a CD-ROM drive for it,” “You don’t have enough bandwidth to do what we’re trying to do,” and, “With what you have now, we’re not going to be able to make an RPG.” We gave them lots of advice. But [Nintendo president] Yamauchi-san at Nintendo basically refused to listen to any of it. And that’s when Sakaguchi-san and the management team at Square decided, “OK, we’re going to go with Sony now.”

https://gonintendo.com/stories/289651-square-enix-opens-up-about-trying-to-make-final-fantasy-vii-for-n

^ whats crazy is that Nintendo hasnt changed.

They still design hardware, around their own wants and needs, and basically ignore 3rd party input (on hardware).

Nintendo is not crazy for trying to innovate when it comes to hardware. Otherwise all would be low end PC boxes, the industry would stagnate. Sony and MS took lessons from Nintendo and still continue to do so. Third party support doesn't always depend on hardware either, many examples of that. Big installbases are a big reason for more support too.