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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%

N64 would have had more games.... and cheaper prices on them.

Sometimes storage space might even have held back certain things (textures, sounds tracks ect), and haveing CDs could have resulted in better looking/sounding games. All this together, could probably mean the hardware sales would have been slightly higher too.

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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.

h2ohno said:
The question is how the CD format would have affected the games the N64 had in real life. Long load times would be a real detriment to games like Mario 64, and big open areas like Hyrule Field also benefited from the cartridge format. Another question is how much the N64 would cost if designed to play CDs, but the games themselves would have been cheaper, so that would even out.

For the sake of argument, let's say their first party games stay as close to their real world form as possible in terms of actual design, albeit with the higher quality textures and audio that CDs allow.

Bet with Liquidlaser: I say PS5 and Xbox Series will sell more than 56 million combined by the end of 2023.

It would have been a lot closer, but PS1 still would have won imo. PS1 ~80-85m, N64 ~55-60m.

Pretty much everything has been said, part of the momentum given by Japanese devs such as Square Enix, Capcom and Konami would have stayed with Nintendo mostly which means that the big boost the PS1 got in the west (Americas) and Japan wouldn't be as strong, I can't imagine how much a "legendary" game like FFVII and it's follow up would have benefited Nintendo at the time and now with this widen audience, there's more possibility for them to enjoy great games such as SM64 and OoT.
Sony would probably have kept a good momentum in Europe though.

BTW, Mother 3( aka Earthbound 64) might have probably released on the N64 since the CD format allowed for better storage space which was lacking with the cartridges.

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With a CD-ROM format, Nintendo would likely have kept Square and Enix exclusive. That would have killed the PS1 in Japan. The Saturn outsold the PS1 during the two systems' first year in Japan. Final Fantasy VII was what turned the tables for Sony there, and at the time, it was a foregone conclusion that it was going to be a N64 exclusive. Had Square stayed, Enix and Dragon Quest VII would have stayed, and that would have sealed the PS1's fate in Japan. Nintendo might have been able to get games like Mother 3 N64 completed. Capcom would have likely developed Resident Evil cross-platform for the N64 launch. The only thing Sony had going for it early on in Japan was Tekken.

Sony would have done better in the West with a lot of support from EA, and they probably would have been able to secure at least time-limited exclusivity for Tomb Raider. They would have still dominated Europe. Nintendo would have eventually come out the winner in the United States, though, with a double whammy of Final Fantasy VII and Goldeneye for the holiday 1997 season and Zelda the next year.  Globally, the N64 would have walloped the PS1 with the N64 winning Asia and North America and the PS1 winning only in Europe.

In this scenario, Sega might have done somewhat better, but they also might have done even worse, to the point where they called it quits as a hardware market before they even tried to get the Dreamcast to market. And then there's the question of how the Xbox would have fared against a weaker PS2 and a stronger Gamecube (or equivalent, since a 5th gen win would likely have set Nintendo on a different course in 6th gen.)

Last edited by SanAndreasX - on 13 August 2019

RingoGaSuki said:
It would have been a lot closer, but PS1 still would have won imo. PS1 ~80-85m, N64 ~55-60m.

Not a chance in hell a system with

Mario 64, GoldenEye, Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, Zelda: OoT, Star Wars titles, Dragon Quest VII, Parasite Eve, Mario Kart 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark exclusive, plus many multiplats like Resident Evil 1-3, probably Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, etc. is only selling 55-60 million units IMO. 

That's way too low. 

They would dominate Japan for one and take the US probably too, which makes it impossible for any developer to keep their game off the system (like Konami and Metal Gear Solid) and they would get the same EA support and all that stuff too. 

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.

This right here.

The PlayStation was floundering in Japan until Square announced FFVII as a PS1 exclusive. No FFVII, no Japan, and it would have severely damaged the PS1 in the United States as a result. Sony would have been stuck marketing Tomb Raider II and Crash Bandicoot 2 as its marquee games for the 1997 US holiday season, and in no universe can I see either game making as big a splash as FFVII and Goldeneye did. 

PortisheadBiscuit said:
PS1 still wins the gen but not by as huge a margin. Sony as a parent company already had the global market penetration to take Playstation to levels Nintendo wouldn't have been able to at the time. Playstation also treated 3rd party developers much better than Nintendo and would've probably still secured a majority of 3rd party games. The only exception being Square.

And that one exception literally made all the difference in Japan, and by extension, the United States, since the US game market was still dominated by Japanese games at the time. 

VAMatt said:

I think the market was ready for something new. Sony was a very powerful brand in electronics. Possibly *the most* powerful brand at that time. Sony entering the business finally settled the matter - video games were serious, mainstream tech, and they weren't gonna go away. That cachet would have been hard to beat, regardless of what Nintendo did.

Yeah, no Sony was never the biggest or most powerful brand in electronics not even in Japan Panasonic is still bigger and so is Hitachi.