-Point #1: You bring up the point that someone else would've revived the video game market, however none of the companies you mention actually did which debunks your argument that another company would've saved the video game industry. Atari released the Atari 7800 BEFORE the NES released nationwide on September 1986 yet it didn't do anything because Atari themselves had lack of faith releasing the 7800 with a lack of major games released for it, which proves my point that most companies wouldn't have taken as much risk and jump above enough hurdles to actually go through and save the video game industry. Plus the Intellivision didn't save the industry before the NES released and would never have cause the Intellivision didn't entice consumers enough since they were wary of video games after the crash. Plus Former Mattel Electronics Senior Vice President of Marketing, Terrence Valeski was using outdated video game sales numbers from 1982 BEFORE the crash happened to believe that there was still consumer interest in video games when their wasn't, he misinterpreted the industry and the main problem going on with the industry by using outdated numbers before the crash occurred, proof alone is found on the direct source of the quote you used which I'll link right here:http://www.intellivisionlives.com/bluesky/games/credits/intv.shtml#comments">https://web.archive.org/web/20170623113523/http://www.intellivisionlives.com/bluesky/games/credits/intv.shtml#comments
As for Sega, the only reason why they were able to release the Master System in NA in the first place is because Nintendo was showing retailers that there is still interest in video games after the NES did successful in the multiple test markets the NES released in, if it weren't for that the Master System wouldn't have been on store shelves in NA. Also, even if they SOMEHOW would go on to revive the industry, do you really think unprofessional companies like Sega or Atari would've maintain major video game market dominance for years to come. Let me ask you this, where is Atari and Sega right now? Yea.... I bet you get my point.
-Point #2 Majority of gamers did not move to PC like you make it out to be, barely anyone at that point owned a PC, far less than the amount of people who owned a console and we have to take into consideration that a good portion of people probably don't use their PC for gaming either. To prove this, in 1990 30% of American Households owned an NES while only 23% owned a PC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_Entertainment_System You may argue back that PC gamers moved back to console after the NES released, however in 1985 WAYYY LESS than 23% of U.S Households owned a PC as PC was still new at the time and EVEN LESS played games of the PC. According to Statista, only 8% of U.S Households owned a PC, https://www.statista.com/statistics/184685/percentage-of-households-with-computer-in-the-united-states-since-1984/.The NES in NA sold about 34M units alone to be in 30% of American Household, Atari 2600 likely sold around 25M in the U.S, which would account for most likely 25% of American Households, the Atari 2600 Alone was more popular in people's homes than PC ever was in the early to mid 80s, where only 8% of Households owned a PC. The fact you use that people moved to PC is false and the huge revenue drop in gaming proves it.
Yes PC gaming does generate less revenue than console gaming, but you have to admit no way the drop would be that huge like it was, plus if PC revenue was so low due to piracy and other stuff, I'm sure there would be far less gaming companies who would want to make games with diminishing returns on PC, which would kill gaming in the long run eventually as gaming companies will continue to make small budget games since they can't afford to make AAA games on PC with little returns. We would also see much fewer gaming companies, these major companies blew up making games for console, not PC, PC gaming would remain niche with limited revenue.
-Point #3 You didn't see the console market crash in Japan because Nintendo saved it before it crashed, there were multiple signs before the Famicom released that the gaming industry in Japan was going to crash and burn, I'm going to take quotes from an interview from NES designer Uemura to explain what was going on in Japan, proving the industry was at a breaking point:
"In Japan, the issue was that toy stores didn’t know how to carry them. Toy stores didn’t carry televisions. So they didn’t see game systems as things they should carry, either. That’s why a lot of companies tried positioning their products as educational products, with keyboards, more like PCs than game systems. The thinking in the industry was that was the only way to go, back then. The only way to sell a video game was showing it on a screen, and it was a big ask of toy stores, making them purchase TVs."
"What we had was an LCD game crash. They stopped selling at right around the same time—Christmas of 1983."
I'm sure the Japan console industry would've crashed too if Nintendo didn't save it, companies couldn't even get consoles on Japan's store shelves ffs!
Also Nintendo made gaming really big in Europe with the Gameboy, selling 40M+ over there, and again all the companies you mentioned wouldn't have made gaming big without console gaming blowing up.
I may give you point #1, although I am not sure. Maybe the console market wasn't viable anymore without the NES. Maybe not. But surely some companies tried to bring it back even without Nintendo. The question is: would they have been successful, hadn't the NES competed them to death? Also you are referring to the US-situation, but the world is bigger than just the US. But true enough, the initial console spark mostly happened in the US, in the rest of the world wasn't even a console market at that point.
But point #2 about PC I disagree. As an argument you cite the amount in 1990, so the NES already was around for years. Also again only in America. Maybe the word PC is misleading. In the 80s there was a thriving segment called home computers. In the 90s people eventually moved to consoles for gaming and for Windows-PC office work and programming, but back in the 80's home computers were an economic and usable alternative for both gaming and simple office tasks. Heck, the Wikipedia article for home computers start off showing kids playing a game, underlining that this was an important usage:
Home computers exactly fell into the time of the crash and they were a growing market, until they were outcompeted for their single tasks by consoles on the one side and Windows-PC on the other. And from the time-space:
- the Commodore 64 (aka C64) was released 1982. The Guiness boook lists it as the highest selling single computer model of all time. (the PC-market is flourishing on very different models)
- the Tandy TRS-80 was released 1980
- the Amstrad CPC was released 1984
- the Sinclair ZX Spectrum was released 1982
- and obviously the Apple II was released in 1977 and multiple times modified
Home computers were the first platform that actually introduced me to gaming. I didn't get into contact with consoles for a long time.
And that this was a thriving platform you can see with the games. Major important games were released often initially for these home computers. Here are some popular game series:
- the Ultima series started 1981 initially on Apple II, but moved on to C64 and DOS, although you could say, the series really started with Akalabeth in 1979 on Apple II and DOS; Ultima is one of the founding pillars of JRPGs (yes, you heard right, the initial JRPGs were copying Ultima and Wizardry, infusing it with visual novels)
- Wizardry started 1981, first on Apple II and C64, but was ported to nearly everything
- Might and Magic was first released in 1986 on Apple II, only four years later a NES-version was released, it also was ported to many other platforms
- Lemmings was released on Amiga (another home computer by Commodore) first in 1991 and ported to many platforms
- Zork was initially developed on PDP-10 (a commercial Unix-machine used in universities) and commercially sold by Infocom in 1980 for Tandy TRS-80 and Apple II, later in 1982 for DOS and C64
- Turrican was released 1990 initially for C64
- Zombi (the first game from Ubisoft) was released in 1986 for Amstrad CPC and ported in 1990 for ZX Spectrum, C64, Amiga, Atari ST and DOS
These were all important game series back in the day. To get the importance of these home computers for gaming, you can look at the fact, that more than 2000 games released for the C64, while only half as much released for the NES/Famicom. There are also more than 1700 games each for Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and Commodore Amiga.
In Japan the situation is similar, but with slightly different models, as the different writing system wasn't very well represented by western home computers. I don't know much about the japanese home computer like PC-8800-series, PC-9800-series, FM-7, X1, Sharp MZ, MSX; but I know companies like Square, Nihon Falcom, Game Arts and many others released in the 80s for these platforms, before they switched to the Famicom.
With the last part I also countered your point about gaming outside the US. Your quote may refer to gaming consoles, but at the same time they sold these home computers/PCs and companies sold games for these platforms and this market grew, as I showed. Only as Nintendo introduced the Famicom, these already existing gaming companies started to move onto this platform. And in europe home computers were thriving and you see much more games released for it than for the NES.
It is true that PCs generated less revenue, still everyone entered the gaming market. The reason is that development was also much, much simpler for home computers and PC. Therefore the games often released on these platforms and only years later as they already proved successful were ported to console. That may have generated more revenue, but as the hurdle to create a game was so much lower on these platforms, much more developers started in this market. So I may counter your point: without home computers and PC we would have seen much less game developers and therefore a lot fewer games on NES and SNES. That I mean serious: many game developers were introduced to gaming on home computer and these home computers often came with Basic or similar programming language so they learned to make their own games. So without home computers they probably would've become carpenters or bakers. And that is why you see so much more game releases on the multitude of competing home computers, while the mostly dominating platform in the console market got so much less games.
So in conclusion: without the NES/Famicom the market may look different, maybe even home console never would've really took off, but these games would've released for other platforms. Maybe if Nintendo didn't refresh the home console market we would still have these home computers around for gaming. Maybe modern PC would be more centered towards gaming. But I am sure, gaming would exist and would thrive.