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Firstly, as a European, Nintendo was neither dominant nor well known. Sega actually won the 4th gen in Europe, and yeah... the Megadrive didn't exactly do well anywhere, so that shows how little presence Nintendo had. Sony likely beat Nintendo on brand awareness. I mean, Nintendo were barely relevant, and while Sony may have been new to gaming consoles they were already a big electronics manufacturer so they would have beat Nintendo in that category anyway.

Plus, it being a newcomer wasn't really a factor. I mean, it was just a good console with a tonne of great games at an affordable price with negligible competition. Any console would have done well in those circumstances. Those are largely the circumstances that saw the Xbox 360 do so well too. Together they just show that 1st console or 2nd console doesn't really matter, do things right and you'll do well.