Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Did Nintendo save gaming with the NES?

Did Nintendo save gaming with the NES?

Yes 54 72.00%
 
No 21 28.00%
 
Total:75
SvennoJ said:
Nautilus said:

For everywhere, really.

First of all, it's not just the "US market', but rather The Americas market. The whole continent.

Second of all, Nintendo proved with the NES that gaming was more than just a "toy" and thus not a fad. The market in the Americas had died, and the European one and Japanese would soon follow after, at the very least the home console(which is like 70% of the market as of right now, give or take), since most big players would not exist without Nintendo. Sega probably wouldn't make the genesis, since that was an answer to the NES, and Sony would also never going to enter the market as a result. And since MS created the XBox only to compete with Sony, that would be a no go.

Plus, like I said, most gaming staples were created by Nintendo and it's 3rd and 4rd gen consoles. Without them, I have no idea how many decades of gaming techniques and design behind we would all be.

Actually MS was behind the MSX platform which is the birthplace of Metal Gear Solid. The MSX did well in Japan and in parts of Europe, but for some reason failed in the USA.

Nintendo on the other hand was seen as the kiddie console where I lived with expensive cartridges and crappy conversions. NES and the 50hz curse... Sony dragged consoles away from the games are for kids stigma back to where they were with Atari, Commodore and Amiga.

Anyway, I was born in '74, been playing games since 1980 and never heard of the video game crash until I moved to NA. Apparently I lived through it without ever noticing it, happily gaming away.

Yeah, because the crash only happened in America to begin with. Mostly because outside of the USA no market really was created, only imported machines without a marketing push behind them, so no market, no crash. But the initial console-experiments were enough to show tech-companies worldwide, that moving arcades into the living room was a working technical concept.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019

Predictions: Switch / Switch vs. XB1 in the US / Three Houses first quarter

Around the Network
LivingMetal said:
Robert_Downey_Jr. said:
Nope. It was a crash but like the stock market gaming was always gonna come back. Nintendo happened to be at the right place at the right time and capitalized on a vacant market. The crash wasn't this long dark ages. It was like 2 years where things got saturated and new sales slowed down.

So it could be argued that console gaming "came back" because Nintendo was at the right place at the right time.  Therefore, Nintendo revitalized the console market.  So tell us All-Wise-One-From-An-Alternate-Timeline.  If the NES never existed, how was console gaming "always gonna come back?"  Hmm...

Designing an scenario where some other console saves the console market in the US is relatively easy. 

Option A: Nintendo does not release the NES in the US. However for some reason Sega does release the Master System around 1986 in the US with good marketing (on part with Nintendo's marketing from 1985-1986). Now, Sega won't have games as good as Super Mario Bros and what not and because the Famicom is still destroying the NES in Japan, third party support (especially from Japanese companies) while better than OTL would still be limited, which will hurt sales. Still the SMS for example was able to keep up with the NES in Europe. 

With good marketing, getting more third party support (even if still much less than the NES got irl) and what not, I think the SMS can probably sell around half of what the NES sold in North America, so somewhere around 15 million units (which would push the SMS itself to somewhere around 30 million worldwide).

Of course then the question is how would Nintendo respond and what happens with the SNES/Mega Drive, but at that point the home console market itself is saved.

Option B (more likely imo): The 3rd generation of consoles is never released in North America, or if it is released, it is in small quantities and being flops. Europe is still a relatively decent market but not amazing.

Eventually, in 1989, Nintendo (which still exists and is big, remember Japan is still a thing) releases the Game Boy with Tetris and it is an instant hit. Suddenly, everyone realizes they can play video games on the go, no need for PCs. So handheld gaming will always be a thing (more than anything, because it could not be affected by a crash before it even existed).

As for how that translates to consoles, it is not inconcievable that Nintendo speeds up the development of the Super Game Boy, and eventually releases it alongside the SNES in 1993. Or maybe Sega just releases the Game Gear with a TV output as some sort of proto-Switch :P

Option C: North America just copies Europe. So the NES sells around 10 million units, then the SNES and MegaDrive also sell around 15 million combined. These numbers are roughly 1/3 of what the real NA numbers were. Most American gamers just play on PC

Then when the PSX comes out, everyone just starts buying Playstations instead of PCs out of nowhere (tbh I have no idea why this happened in Europe). While console gaming would still be smaller than OTL, the market itself is saved



NES saved console gaming in USA. No small feat, but different and smaller than the much wider concept of saving gaming worldwide. Much more true would be the claim that Ninty made portable console gaming huge. BTW some people think Ninty invented portable gaming, but this isn't true, Mattel invented single game portables and Milton Bradley invented portables with interchangeable cartridges.
Nowadays we can say that after making portable gaming huge, Ninty saved it merging its user base with Ninty home console users with the Switch hybrid, this was a very intelligent move that kept the user base large enough to compete with the incredibly huge Android and iPhone portable gaming market. This market is an order of magnitude larger, but its gamers spend a lot less on average, with the vast majority just playing free and F2P games, while the vast majority of portable console gamers actually buy at least a few games (and with the welcome not so small minority of Ninty home gamers, we can estimate them to be at least 15M in the worst periods for Ninty, but surely NS success will make them grow again a lot, that typically buys on average more games than portable gamers and FAR more games than very casual typical mobile gamers).



Stwike him, Centuwion. Stwike him vewy wuffly! (Pontius Pilate, "Life of Brian")
A fart without stink is like a sky without stars.
TGS, Third Grade Shooter: brand new genre invented by Kevin Butler exclusively for Natal WiiToo Kinect. PEW! PEW-PEW-PEW! 
 


javi741 said:
Mnementh said:

No. Let's see to your arguments.

"If Nintendo didn't do it someone else would have"

You say: "After the 1983 crash, literally no one wanted to have anything to do with video games anymore, from companies to consumers and retailers."

This is obviously wrong. True, some companies that had entered the market from other sides like Fairchild and Mattel left the market and fell back on their core businesses. But with Mattel the story becomes already more complicated. Citing from Wikipedia:

"Former Mattel Electronics Senior Vice President of Marketing, Terrence Valeski, understood that although losses were huge, the demand for video games increased in 1983. Valeski found investors and purchased the rights to Intellivision, the games, and inventory from Mattel. A new company, Intellivision Inc, was formed and by the end of 1984. Valeski bought out the other investors and changed the name to INTV Corporation."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellivision#Competition_and_market_crash

Intellivision kept on going until 1990. Why did they stop 1990? Let's see:

"Licensing agreements with Nintendo and Sega required INTV Corporation to discontinue the Intellivision in 1990."

So Intellivision leaving the market wasn't a direct reaction to the crash, it was because of the new competitors Nintendo and Sega.

Magnavox was already since 1974 a subsidiary of Philips. Philips was handling the european distribution of Magnavox Odyssey² under the name Philips Videopac G7000. They followed that up with Philips Videopac+ G7400 and that with the Philips CD-i and the Philips MSX. So also Philips was willing to stay in the market. But Nintendo and Sega were more successful. So Philips ended up cooperating with Nintendo by providing their CD-i for the SNES.

Atari had difficulties as a company and Arcade part and home consumer part were split, but they stayed in the market. The Atari 7800 released in 1986, the Jaguar in 1993. But Atari was unable to compete with Nintendo and Sega.

So yes, without Nintendo we would've seen the market relived by Atari, Philips, Intellivision and Sega. Only the competition with Nintendo and Sega forced the other companies out of the market, not the crash.

"Only the console market crashed, people just moved on to PCs & Arcades after the crash, video games were still popular"

Interesting graphics you have, but it doesn't support your statement. Arcade revenue did also go down as you point out. But it moves independently of the home console market. Look at your graph, Arcade already started contracting as home console revenue was still climbing. Arcade also stopped at around it's former size, while home console revenue completely collapsed in 1985. But the most interesting part is that at the time both Arcade and Home console dropped, the PC-market grew. Only at the point the home console market recovered, the PC market shrinked again. It seems PC-market and home console market were vying for the same customers. As the console market crashed, the gamers went to PC.

But the revenue is much lower. True. But that the graph is about revenue somehow downplays the importance of the PC-market. As on PC was much more piracy (yes, believe me, I was there back then) and lower game prices (lots of Shareware and free demos, think that Doom released the complete first chapter (of three) completely without cost) the revenue is much smaller as on other platforms, but that hides the amount of players and games. As development cost and distribution is much lower on PC, it also was much more simple to have a sufficient business with this much smaller revenue. That is why this small revenue bar hides a plethora of games and players.

More importantly, as the entry hurdles were so low, the PC-market created life-long players and a lot of game developers.

So in conclusion: if the home console market hadn't recovered, the PC-market would've kept on growing. Slowly but solidly.

"The Video Game Crash Only Happened in NA, other regions were still playing games"

The world wasn't as globalized back then, as it is today. You claim the crash would've burned into other countries, but Nintendo itself is proving you wrong. The Famicom released 1983 in Japan, just as the crash was starting in the US. It didn't affect the japanese market, which hadn't for the most part even seen the american home consoles. But even besides Nintendo a lot of Japanese companies developed, mostly for Arcade (Konami, Bandai) or the differing PC-platforms available in Japan (Square, Enix).

In europe the american consoles had some presence, but the home console market never really started there until the Playstation. If there is no market to begin with, it cannot crash. Europe at that time mostly started playing on PC, as you can see with the plethora of european gaming comanies starting at that time with PC games:

  • Ubisoft: founded 1986 in France
  • Infogrames Entertainment: founded 1983 in France
  • Blue Byte: founded 1988 in Germany
  • Silmarils: founded 1987 in France
  • Adventure Soft: founded 1983 in the UK
  • Codemasters: founded 1985 in the UK

And so on. They all started in europe as PC-devs, as this was the viable platform, home console was seldomly a viable market in europe alone, even after the NES. This only changed after the Playstation.

So in conclusion: Japan and Europe had developing gaming markets on their own, for big parts disconnected from what was happening in the US.

-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."

https://kotaku.com/the-designer-of-the-nes-dishes-the-dirt-on-nintendos-ea-1844296906

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.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019

Predictions: Switch / Switch vs. XB1 in the US / Three Houses first quarter

Agente42 said:
SvennoJ said:

Actually MS was behind the MSX platform which is the birthplace of Metal Gear Solid. The MSX did well in Japan and in parts of Europe, but for some reason failed in the USA.

Nintendo on the other hand was seen as the kiddie console where I lived with expensive cartridges and crappy conversions. NES and the 50hz curse... Sony dragged consoles away from the games are for kids stigma back to where they were with Atari, Commodore and Amiga.

Anyway, I was born in '74, been playing games since 1980 and never heard of the video game crash until I moved to NA. Apparently I lived through it without ever noticing it, happily gaming away.

Who played The Legend of Zelda and Metroid is not kids, and the sports games too. The marketing of Sega is too good, and perceive a teenager console only and die with this.(besides the marketing) The marketing saying something, the data say another thing. The neutral aspect of Nes and Gameboy says this console for everyone. Sales wise demonstrate this. Nintendo kids game myth is applied, in some way, true for worst selling Nintendo console and not for the best selling, when Nintendo sells for a niche core fans and the kids ( Wiiu, Gamecube,SnEs[ in part], 2ds). 

I don't know who played them, we played on C64 and Amiga 500 at the time. Those were very successful spawning frequent copy parties in community centers all around the country. Parents (the ones I knew) and schools thought more highly of these home computers since you could do a lot more of them. The MSX I had doubled as a keyboard (learned to play the piano on it, midi keyboard attachment module) plus I learned BASIC on it and got me interested in programming which became my career later on.

NES was released end of '86 in Europe. I was 12 at the time and among my age group the NES was considered to be for under 10. We were too busy with MSX C64 and the upcoming Amiga 500 which launched the year after. Amiga 500 had a lot of buzz, NES none. After Amiga 500 PC became the choice for teenagers until the PS1 came out. The first Zelda I played was OOT. We grew up on war games on the C64, Leisure suite Larry / Police Quest / Monkey island / Lemmings / Sim city on PC, racers and platformers on Amiga 500. N64 started to get the older kids interested with Wave race initially.

My much younger Nephews did have a NES and Sega (Sonic) which was also fun but looked like kids games.



Around the Network

When it comes to home console gaming, what Nintendo did was raise the bar to a level that exceeded the expectations of gamers and made games exciting again. It was the difference between having a single person crank out a new game every month versus having a team of people work on a game for several. With the nature of the arcade, games could only be played for a few minutes at a time without requiring more credits.

I think Nintendo saw that it would be possible to put a larger budget into their games and still profit. If not for Nintendo, that isn't to say that Miyamoto wouldn't exist, right? So maybe Mario would belong to another company. :P



Jumpin said:
tack50 said:

In the US? Yeah maybe. Worldwide? Hell no.

In Japan consoles were just keeping business as usual. So there would certainly be tons of consoles being released in Japan, and I imagine at least one of them would have been sold internationally and exported. If Nintendo had decided not to export the NES to the US for some reason, maybe Sega would have and instead we'd have threads about "Did Sega save console gaming with the Master System?".

And like others said, PC gaming kept dominating Europe until like the PS1 came out.

The absolute worst case scenario I can think of is that the 3rd generation of consoles never gets released internationally, and the first console to launch internationlly ends up being the Game Boy in 1990. The Game Boy would undoubtbly take off just like it did irl, and it is certainly a console, so the Game Boy would be considered the saviour of consoles I suppose. With the success of the Game Boy, maybe Nintendo launches the SNES in 1992 or something like that

Edit: Wow the question is even dumber than I thought. Gaming at large was certainly not saved by anyone lol. Even in the absolute worst case scenarios, PC gaming would continue going on.

What you said.


The NES didn’t “save gaming” because there wasn’t really anything to save yet. The NES was more or less just a really successful console, but there was no guarantee that game brands would continue to grow beyond 1 console until Sega introduced the 16-bit generation and achieved it.

And my below post is more a response to other things (mainly because I’m ancient and actually lived through this period and was a pretty active member of gaming culture as a kid).

The console video gaming industry was in its infancy at the time and manufacturers didn’t know how to keep their brand alive long term. What happened with the Atari 2600 is many crappy games were released for it - and I don’t mean games that fat nerds take tantrums over because “therrr casual and I’m hardcore!” - these were shitty games that weren’t playable.

The Vic20 and C64 were seen as video game systems in Europe, not PCs. PCs were something pretty much specifically tied to Microsoft Windows and stuff like that. These consoles had better games on them, as did the SMS, and the NES, where it was available (you literally could only get it in certain cities in Europe until around the launch of the SNES) were what you wanted to play. No one thought of them as “next generation consoles” so much as just “consoles with better games.”

The first time we were introduced to new consoles as a “new generation” was the move from 8-bit to 16-bit: and Atari, C64, and NES weren’t two or three different generations, they were all just one: The 8-bit generation. Splitting all this stuff into different generations is just inaccurate to how things were marketed and understood back then; and it makes no sense to alter it, because all that does is make these so-called video game historians writing up story that didn’t happen.

The Mega Drive (Or Genesis/Exodus/Torah, whatever you want to call it in the US) as a new generation of video game systems was an effective strategy, and people saw it as a much more valuable console than the NES, and SNES followed with its own 16-bit console. What this achieved was Nintendo and Sega were both able to extend interest in their brand.  I think the SNES was also the one that more or less opened up the notion that the Nintendo and Sega were mainly Japanese things, because I don’t think people really saw it that way before (I assumed the NES was Scandinavian). But the SNES was where the importing of Japanese games became a major thing - but anyway, I’m rambling WAY off topic now.

The video game industry grew a lot with the 16-bit generation, and while on paper the NES did better overall, the popularity of the 16-bit generation far exceeded it. The NES was supported and sold from 1983 to 1994, while the SNES sold from 1992 to 1996. The years of the SNES were way more profitable for Nintendo, worldwide, than the NES-only years. Of course, the NES continuing to sell, helped, and so did the Gameboy; but the SNES annual sales were always higher than most NES years. What Nintendo and Sega did, was not only extend the life of their brand, but expand it.

CONCLUSION

So the concept of generations, introduced by Sega, is IMO the marketing/hardware strategy that “saved” the video game industry. The Mega Drive showed that Sega could both extend and expand their brand in a way no one had ever done before (except Commodore, but that was more or less then building another console that happened to catch fire too, not really seen as a “new generation of video games!” thing).

Another way of looking at it is that it was what really established and defined it, while the early years was a lot of experimentation until someone discovered a way to make it work as a long term business.


EPILOGUE

(just silly extra off-topic but related rambling)

Back on generations topic, the Saturn and N64 weren’t the 8th or 11th or 37th generation, they were the third generation of Nintendo and Sega hardware: in fact, there was a bit of confusion about the 32-bit generation thing Sega was marketing and the 64-bit console Nintendo had: did Nintendo jump ahead to the  generation AFTER the Saturn? Short lived as it became the 32/64 bit gen.

But then Sony came along with the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, etc... they just did generations better. It’s why Nintendo is really on a totally different generational track than Sony at this point.

Nintendo saw the failure of the N64, and they were like “We can’t be arrogant anymore, let’s just do what Sony did next gen, except Nintendoish” The GameCube was Nintendo’s attempt at making a PS2 clonebox, and everyone laughed because it was ridiculous and kiddy, they failed because Sony actually knew what they were doing and Nintendo was trying to copy. So Nintendo comes back and they’re like “ALRIGHT! We’ll start doing our own thing again!” The Wii was the revolution that disrupted Sony, and they did so BIG time. But then Nintendo went crazy and made the Wii U, which was Nintendo saying “now that we’re King again, try OUR take on High definition gaming!” and everyone laughed again! “OK! OK! The Switch, this is what we really meant!” And now everything is right in the world again =P

I think you are confusing use of the term generations with the Bit Wars of the early 90's.  Console manufacturers and video game writers of the day very definitely did use the term "generation" in their marketing and articles in the early 80's.  The Colecovision and the Atari 5200 were both lauded as "Third Generation Systems" when they released in 1982 with near as you could get to arcade quality graphics on your living room TV at the time.  They were a clear advancement from the Magnavox Odyssey (1972), Atari 2600 (1977) and Intellivision (1979) systems that preceded them.  It's true that historians did later alter the generations by retroactively lumping both the Colecovision and 5200 back into the 2nd Generation many years after the fact.  But, that doesn't mean that the term "Video Game Generation" was something that got invented in the PlayStation era.  Take this 1982 article from Electronic Games Magazine, whose title reads, "Third Wave Video Gaming Comes to Market":

Also, see this review of the Colecovision and its games from the December 1982 issue of "Electronic Fun with Computers & Games" which literally breaks down home consoles by generation as viewed at the time:

Third Generation

"I’ve had a chance to carefully evaluate the ColecoVision versions of Donkey Kong, Venture, Cosmic Avenger, Lady Bug, and Smurf at press time and enjoyed them all immensely. Because of the ever-changing game screens, the high-quality graphics and the imaginative music and sound effects, I found the games to be always entertaining and rarely boring—no easy feat, with my limited attention span. If anything. my only complaint is that some people might find a few of the ColecoVision games to be too difficult—something that you don’t usually hear about a standard game. This can be good or bad, depending on how competitive you are.

The ColecoVision games put other versions to shame. The VCS Donkey Kong, for example, gives you a simplistic “bare bones” display, without any of the subtleties or the arcade-like background music of the ColecoVision game.

The VCS omits the last. most difficult level, the infamous “elevator level.” By comparison, the ColecoVision version was a near-perfect duplication of the arcade classic, with all of the sound effects and most of the visuals left virtually intact.

The ColecoVision execs are extremely proud of their system, which they consider to be the first Third-generation programmable on the market, right after the original Atari VCS and Odyssey² (first-generation) and the Mattel Intellivision (second-generation). As one spokesman told me: “The coin-op designers are always worried about keeping the home versions of their games as accurate as possible and so far we’ve had nothing but praise for our ColecoVision designs.” I’d have to agree with his assessment.

The only question that remains is whether or not Coleco will be able to get their system and games on the market fast enough. So far, dealers have been clamoring for the ColecoVision consoles, which have been in extremely short supply since their introduction this fall. My bet is that those consumers who are lucky enough to be first on the block with a ColecoVision will find the wait well worth it. The system is great, but there’s one thing Coleco has to fix. Before any game you have to stare at the words “ColecoVision” for 12 seconds. And when your game is over, you have to stare at it for another 12 seconds. Maybe Coleco wants to let us run to the refrigerator between hours of Cosmic Avenger, but when I play, I just want to play."

http://vgpavilion.com/mags/1982/12/ef/game-workout-colecovision/



Mandalore76 said:
Jumpin said:

What you said.


The NES didn’t “save gaming” because there wasn’t really anything to save yet. The NES was more or less just a really successful console, but there was no guarantee that game brands would continue to grow beyond 1 console until Sega introduced the 16-bit generation and achieved it.

And my below post is more a response to other things (mainly because I’m ancient and actually lived through this period and was a pretty active member of gaming culture as a kid).

The console video gaming industry was in its infancy at the time and manufacturers didn’t know how to keep their brand alive long term. What happened with the Atari 2600 is many crappy games were released for it - and I don’t mean games that fat nerds take tantrums over because “therrr casual and I’m hardcore!” - these were shitty games that weren’t playable.

The Vic20 and C64 were seen as video game systems in Europe, not PCs. PCs were something pretty much specifically tied to Microsoft Windows and stuff like that. These consoles had better games on them, as did the SMS, and the NES, where it was available (you literally could only get it in certain cities in Europe until around the launch of the SNES) were what you wanted to play. No one thought of them as “next generation consoles” so much as just “consoles with better games.”

The first time we were introduced to new consoles as a “new generation” was the move from 8-bit to 16-bit: and Atari, C64, and NES weren’t two or three different generations, they were all just one: The 8-bit generation. Splitting all this stuff into different generations is just inaccurate to how things were marketed and understood back then; and it makes no sense to alter it, because all that does is make these so-called video game historians writing up story that didn’t happen.

The Mega Drive (Or Genesis/Exodus/Torah, whatever you want to call it in the US) as a new generation of video game systems was an effective strategy, and people saw it as a much more valuable console than the NES, and SNES followed with its own 16-bit console. What this achieved was Nintendo and Sega were both able to extend interest in their brand.  I think the SNES was also the one that more or less opened up the notion that the Nintendo and Sega were mainly Japanese things, because I don’t think people really saw it that way before (I assumed the NES was Scandinavian). But the SNES was where the importing of Japanese games became a major thing - but anyway, I’m rambling WAY off topic now.

The video game industry grew a lot with the 16-bit generation, and while on paper the NES did better overall, the popularity of the 16-bit generation far exceeded it. The NES was supported and sold from 1983 to 1994, while the SNES sold from 1992 to 1996. The years of the SNES were way more profitable for Nintendo, worldwide, than the NES-only years. Of course, the NES continuing to sell, helped, and so did the Gameboy; but the SNES annual sales were always higher than most NES years. What Nintendo and Sega did, was not only extend the life of their brand, but expand it.

CONCLUSION

So the concept of generations, introduced by Sega, is IMO the marketing/hardware strategy that “saved” the video game industry. The Mega Drive showed that Sega could both extend and expand their brand in a way no one had ever done before (except Commodore, but that was more or less then building another console that happened to catch fire too, not really seen as a “new generation of video games!” thing).

Another way of looking at it is that it was what really established and defined it, while the early years was a lot of experimentation until someone discovered a way to make it work as a long term business.


EPILOGUE

(just silly extra off-topic but related rambling)

Back on generations topic, the Saturn and N64 weren’t the 8th or 11th or 37th generation, they were the third generation of Nintendo and Sega hardware: in fact, there was a bit of confusion about the 32-bit generation thing Sega was marketing and the 64-bit console Nintendo had: did Nintendo jump ahead to the  generation AFTER the Saturn? Short lived as it became the 32/64 bit gen.

But then Sony came along with the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, etc... they just did generations better. It’s why Nintendo is really on a totally different generational track than Sony at this point.

Nintendo saw the failure of the N64, and they were like “We can’t be arrogant anymore, let’s just do what Sony did next gen, except Nintendoish” The GameCube was Nintendo’s attempt at making a PS2 clonebox, and everyone laughed because it was ridiculous and kiddy, they failed because Sony actually knew what they were doing and Nintendo was trying to copy. So Nintendo comes back and they’re like “ALRIGHT! We’ll start doing our own thing again!” The Wii was the revolution that disrupted Sony, and they did so BIG time. But then Nintendo went crazy and made the Wii U, which was Nintendo saying “now that we’re King again, try OUR take on High definition gaming!” and everyone laughed again! “OK! OK! The Switch, this is what we really meant!” And now everything is right in the world again =P

I think you are confusing use of the term generations with the Bit Wars of the early 90's.  Console manufacturers and video game writers of the day very definitely did use the term "generation" in their marketing and articles in the early 80's.  The Colecovision and the Atari 5200 were both lauded as "Third Generation Systems" when they released in 1982 with near as you could get to arcade quality graphics on your living room TV at the time.  They were a clear advancement from the Magnavox Odyssey (1972), Atari 2600 (1977) and Intellivision (1979) systems that preceded them.  It's true that historians did later alter the generations by retroactively lumping both the Colecovision and 5200 back into the 2nd Generation many years after the fact.  But, that doesn't mean that the term "Video Game Generation" was something that got invented in the PlayStation era.  Take this 1982 article from Electronic Games Magazine, whose title reads, "Third Wave Video Gaming Comes to Market":

Also, see this review of the Colecovision and its games from the December 1982 issue of "Electronic Fun with Computers & Games" which literally breaks down home consoles by generation as viewed at the time:

Third Generation

"I’ve had a chance to carefully evaluate the ColecoVision versions of Donkey Kong, Venture, Cosmic Avenger, Lady Bug, and Smurf at press time and enjoyed them all immensely. Because of the ever-changing game screens, the high-quality graphics and the imaginative music and sound effects, I found the games to be always entertaining and rarely boring—no easy feat, with my limited attention span. If anything. my only complaint is that some people might find a few of the ColecoVision games to be too difficult—something that you don’t usually hear about a standard game. This can be good or bad, depending on how competitive you are.

The ColecoVision games put other versions to shame. The VCS Donkey Kong, for example, gives you a simplistic “bare bones” display, without any of the subtleties or the arcade-like background music of the ColecoVision game.

The VCS omits the last. most difficult level, the infamous “elevator level.” By comparison, the ColecoVision version was a near-perfect duplication of the arcade classic, with all of the sound effects and most of the visuals left virtually intact.

The ColecoVision execs are extremely proud of their system, which they consider to be the first Third-generation programmable on the market, right after the original Atari VCS and Odyssey² (first-generation) and the Mattel Intellivision (second-generation). As one spokesman told me: “The coin-op designers are always worried about keeping the home versions of their games as accurate as possible and so far we’ve had nothing but praise for our ColecoVision designs.” I’d have to agree with his assessment.

The only question that remains is whether or not Coleco will be able to get their system and games on the market fast enough. So far, dealers have been clamoring for the ColecoVision consoles, which have been in extremely short supply since their introduction this fall. My bet is that those consumers who are lucky enough to be first on the block with a ColecoVision will find the wait well worth it. The system is great, but there’s one thing Coleco has to fix. Before any game you have to stare at the words “ColecoVision” for 12 seconds. And when your game is over, you have to stare at it for another 12 seconds. Maybe Coleco wants to let us run to the refrigerator between hours of Cosmic Avenger, but when I play, I just want to play."

http://vgpavilion.com/mags/1982/12/ef/game-workout-colecovision/

Very interesting. I had never come across or heard any of this stuff before. Although it’s a bit before my time. The mid-80s was when I got into gaming, and no one really spoke about generations of consoles until Mega Drive, and no one called it the fifth generation - it was the 16-bit generation. The understanding was generally tied to the bits of a system, and this continued even into the Dreamcast/PS2 era - where “128-bit” was used, even though that wasn’t accurate.

But, either way, it seems people using numbered generations are actually not in agreement with those early documentations either because they call this upcoming one the 9th generation. Those articles are talking about the 5200 and ColecoVision as the third wave, but that would make the NES/SMS wave #4, SNES 5, PSX 6, PS2 7, Wii/PS3 8, PS4 9, then PS5 would be the 10th generation. I’m assuming this represents the general thinking in the US (it definitely wasn’t the case in West European countries by the mid-80s until early 2000s), it still would not match the generation narrative people push today, that would still be inaccurate.

But anyway, thanks for digging those old magazines up. I’ve been digging up some stuff myself on the history of RPGs, and it’s very interesting when you get into the pre-Dragon Warrior stuff, that game has more of an impact on RPG design around the world than it’s given credit for... but I like to rant, and that’s a different story.



I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

Once upon a time, Victor Grant was drowning in troubled waters. A few strong swimmers (Nick, Steve and Aaron) were around but were reluctant to hop in to save him since they could very well risk their own skin. In the end, Nick dove in and saved poor Victor. Most people agree Nick saved Victor and thank him for it but others look down on Nick and say he didn't in fact save Victor since if he hadn't jumped in, Steve and Aaron would of instead.

Last edited by TruckOSaurus - on 09 July 2020

Signature goes here!

tack50 said:
LivingMetal said:

So it could be argued that console gaming "came back" because Nintendo was at the right place at the right time.  Therefore, Nintendo revitalized the console market.  So tell us All-Wise-One-From-An-Alternate-Timeline.  If the NES never existed, how was console gaming "always gonna come back?"  Hmm...

Designing an scenario where some other console saves the console market in the US is relatively easy. 

.........................................

Oh... So you agree that in this reality Nintendo DID save console gaming?  Thanks.