Forums - Sales Discussion - Food for Thought: 4th Gen Parallels in American Market

fkusumot, I made the comparison to the 4th generation because that's the one that sprung to mind when I was looking over last week's American sales charts. The 360's current dominance of sports titles reminded me of the Genesis' dominance of the same thing, and many of the other elements then seemed to fall into place. I am in no way saying that this generation is exactly the same as the 4th generation (some people seem to have misinterpreted this point), only that there are some interesting parallels in the target audiences that may not be entirely coincidental.

I actually think that comparisons to the 6th generation don't make a lot of sense. Last time around, the PS2 easily beat off the weak competition from the Dreamcast and then proceeded to crush all other consoles with ease. There really was never a console "war" at all; the competition was over before it began. PS2 had ALL of the third party support from start to finish, with a year's head start on all major rivals. The current situation is NOTHING like that, which is why I think any effort to match up the current consoles to 6th-generation models will be doomed to failure. The Wii is definitely not the PS2, any more than the PS3 is the Gamecube.

I'm convinced that the most accurate comparison for the PS3 is the Nintendo 64. (Hold off the flames, I'm going somewhere with this, honestly!) Some of the parallels should be obvious:

* The N64 used a controversial catridge format. The PS3 uses a controversial Blu-Ray disc format.

* The N64 was the most powerful and expensive console on the market. The PS3 is the most powerful and expensive console on the market.

* The N64 was repeatedly delayed, and launched a year after its rivals (Sega and Sony). The PS3 was repeatedly delayed, and launched a year after its perceived major rival (the 360).

* Nintendo ruled Japan in the 4th generation (SNES) but was crushed there in the 5th generation. Sony ruled Japan in the 6th generation (PS2) but is getting crushed there in the 7th generation.

* Nintendo was incredibly arrogant in the 5th generation, treating 3rd parties poorly and confidently expecting their system to easily beat the competition. Sony has been incredibly arrogant so far in the 7th generation, and expected to sell 5 million PS3s without games.

* The 5th generation saw a change in the market leader, from Nintendo to Sony. The 7th generation almost certainly will see a change in the market leader from Sony to Nintendo.

* The N64 had (IMO) the best games of the 5th generation, but it wasn't nearly enough to match the sales of the Playstation. The PS3 very well may end up with the best games of the current generation, but it won't be enough to match the sales of the Wii.

I could go on, but you get the point. Again, I'm not saying that the situation is exactly the same, it's just that the N64 is the most relevant comparison that I see to the PS3's current situation. Since the N64 is probably my favorite console of all time, it's really not the end of the world for Sony fans if their system doesn't come out on top this time around. You will still have lots of great games to pass the time.



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I agree the parallel is more similar to the PS3/360 comparison. and the Wii is selling similar to that of a non gaming product, because it is so different.
The PS3 is only slightly behind the 360's track record which has been around for twice as long.
And for the general college male market in America the PS3 is overpriced.
Sony (as a whole) is hitting their target market right now
They are not going to compete with Halo, they will wait till it has passed.
This Christmas will be the first real holiday season for the PS3.
They have an entire range of gaming, handheld PSP, midrange PS2, and the high end PS3.- Making for the most successful gaming manufacturer out there.
Sony is aware of how much the console costs.
I think what it comes down to is that most people just cant justify buying the most expensive console, and this will always be the case.
But imagine how nice it would be if the PS3 cost much less, or if the current nintendo system had the same technical specs as the PS3, that would be a gamer paradise!



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I'd be happy if the 360 takes a confortable second, Genesis vs SNES produced lots of good stuff and everyone is forced to make great stuff to stay competitive



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Sullla said:
fkusumot, I made the comparison to the 4th generation because that's the one that sprung to mind when I was looking over last week's American sales charts. The 360's current dominance of sports titles reminded me of the Genesis' dominance of the same thing, and many of the other elements then seemed to fall into place. I am in no way saying that this generation is exactly the same as the 4th generation (some people seem to have misinterpreted this point), only that there are some interesting parallels in the target audiences that may not be entirely coincidental.

I actually think that comparisons to the 6th generation don't make a lot of sense. Last time around, the PS2 easily beat off the weak competition from the Dreamcast and then proceeded to crush all other consoles with ease. There really was never a console "war" at all; the competition was over before it began. PS2 had ALL of the third party support from start to finish, with a year's head start on all major rivals. The current situation is NOTHING like that, which is why I think any effort to match up the current consoles to 6th-generation models will be doomed to failure. The Wii is definitely not the PS2, any more than the PS3 is the Gamecube.

I'm convinced that the most accurate comparison for the PS3 is the Nintendo 64. (Hold off the flames, I'm going somewhere with this, honestly!) Some of the parallels should be obvious:

* The N64 used a controversial catridge format. The PS3 uses a controversial Blu-Ray disc format.

* The N64 was the most powerful and expensive console on the market. The PS3 is the most powerful and expensive console on the market.

* The N64 was repeatedly delayed, and launched a year after its rivals (Sega and Sony). The PS3 was repeatedly delayed, and launched a year after its perceived major rival (the 360).

* Nintendo ruled Japan in the 4th generation (SNES) but was crushed there in the 5th generation. Sony ruled Japan in the 6th generation (PS2) but is getting crushed there in the 7th generation.

* Nintendo was incredibly arrogant in the 5th generation, treating 3rd parties poorly and confidently expecting their system to easily beat the competition. Sony has been incredibly arrogant so far in the 7th generation, and expected to sell 5 million PS3s without games.

* The 5th generation saw a change in the market leader, from Nintendo to Sony. The 7th generation almost certainly will see a change in the market leader from Sony to Nintendo.

* The N64 had (IMO) the best games of the 5th generation, but it wasn't nearly enough to match the sales of the Playstation. The PS3 very well may end up with the best games of the current generation, but it won't be enough to match the sales of the Wii.

I could go on, but you get the point. Again, I'm not saying that the situation is exactly the same, it's just that the N64 is the most relevant comparison that I see to the PS3's current situation. Since the N64 is probably my favorite console of all time, it's really not the end of the world for Sony fans if their system doesn't come out on top this time around. You will still have lots of great games to pass the time.

 Thanks for expanding on the original thought and doing the comparison between the N64 and PS3. This kind of comparison will be revisited more often as the years go by.



leo-j said:
The neo geo was NOT WORTH $699.99

The ps3 IS WORTH $699.99, there's a huge difference their.

the neo geo was 650 dollars with 2 high quality controllers, a memory card and a 200 dollar game

the neo geo was worth it to people that wanted the ultimate game experience when it was released

the ps 3 is basically the same as a 360 but you have to buy the blue ray player



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To put it simply, every generation of consoles is different, and it's pretty much impossible to make predictions based on previous generations.

Heck, we're only in the 7th generation of videogames...7's hardly a big enough number to take statistics and make predictions.

They're interesting comparisons, and it's interesting to see how some are similar...but the market always changes. 



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And yes, the Neo Geo was "worth" $699 when it came out, the same way the PS3 is "worth" $599.

The Neo Geo was top-notch stuff...it had to cost a lot, just like the PS3. And the price goes down after time, assuming enough people will buy it after the price cut too.
The Neo Geo probably didn't drop too much because it was selling much worse.

I mean...don't you people remember paying $40-$60 for N64 and PS1 games? The value of something is totally different a decade later...



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Sullla said:
* The N64 used a controversial catridge format. The PS3 uses a controversial Blu-Ray disc format.

* The N64 was the most powerful and expensive console on the market. The PS3 is the most powerful and expensive console on the market.


The comparison is interesting, but there are two critical flaws. 

1.  Cartridges were MUCH, MUCH more damaging to the N64 than Blu-ray has been to the PS3 -- and the problem only got worse over time for the N64, while the opposite is true for the PS3.  

2.  The N64 was not a more expensive console than the others (launch price $199), and I think it may have been the LEAST expensive.  The games were more expensive, though.  (See point 1.)   



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Final-Fan said:
Sullla said:
* The N64 used a controversial catridge format. The PS3 uses a controversial Blu-Ray disc format.

* The N64 was the most powerful and expensive console on the market. The PS3 is the most powerful and expensive console on the market.


The comparison is interesting, but there are two critical flaws. 

1.  Cartridges were MUCH, MUCH more damaging to the N64 than Blu-ray has been to the PS3 -- and the problem only got worse over time for the N64, while the opposite is true for the PS3.  

2.  The N64 was not a more expensive console than the others (launch price $199), and I think it may have been the LEAST expensive.  The games were more expensive, though.  (See point 1.)   


I really think that #1 is debateable ...

Cartridges are the ultimate example in a tradeoff of value, the amazingly fast read times (as compared to CD) are what made the 'seemless' enviroments that the best N64 games had possible; many N64 games were so revolutionary because of the cartridge format that Nintendo choose, and many of the games have aged so well due to cartridges. The big downside to cartridges wasn't the capacity (which was a problem) but was the price; N64 games often launched at a higher price and never could be as inexpensive as the budget Playstation games.

Blu-Ray on the other hand is insanely slow which will become more obvious as developers try to produce more content and ... Loading ... larger areas. On top of that Blu-Ray doesn't offer much value because few games will ever use more than 1 DVD worth of content, and few will ever require so many that swapping discs would be a chore.

In both cases the format they choose will cost the platform a massive ammount of third party support, the difference is that Nintendo's option was made based on technical merits and brought better gameplay and Sony's decision was made for business reasons and offers little in terms of gameplay.



Sullla said:

I've been kicking around this notion recently, and was curious whether the rest of you think the comparison has any merit. It struck me this past week that the American sales charts are in some ways reminiscent of the famous 4th Gen competition between the Sega Genesis and the Nintendo SNES. Today, the XBox 360 and Wii occupy somewhat similar positions. Think about this:

* The Genesis released well in advance of the SNES in America and built up a sizable user base advantage. Over the course of the generation, the SNES then slowly gained ground on the Genesis and eventually passed it at the tail end of the systems' lives. We may see a very similar track record for the 360/Wii this time around.

* The Genesis (Megadrive) was crushed in the Japanese market by the SNES. The 360 has essentially no chance to avoid a similar fate.

* The Genesis was enormously more popular than the SNES when it came to sports games. (The Madden series started on the Genesis, and didn't even exist on Nintendo consoles until years later.) The 360 clearly has emerged as the dominant sports console in the American market in the current generation; EA doesn't even make Wii versions for some of its major sports franchises (e.g. NHL 08).

* The Genesis was deliberately marketed to an audience of teenage males (remember the "SEGA Scream?"), while the SNES was seen as more of a family console. The parallels should be obvious.

*SEGA produced two add-ons for the Genesis in the form of the SEGA CD and 32-X, costly hardware additions that were less than successful. The 360 has three different SKUs on the market, and the hardware failure rate has been less than successful.

Now just as every generation is the same in some ways, they are all different as well. Gigantic differences this time around include the presence of the PS3 (nothing quite similar in the early 90s), the fact that the 360 is more powerful than the Wii instead of the other way around, the greater financial resources of Microsoft compared to SEGA, and so on - etc. etc. But it seems to me that there ARE some parallels here, with two genuinely different user bases between 360/Wii that are interested in purchasing different types of games. Since the 4th generation is often considered by many people to be one of the best eras of gaming, I don't see parallels as a bad thing.

Crazy thought, or not?


I think it's an okay comparison, but not too good.  One big reason is that your very first comparison is very different from the present situation:  The Wii didn't slowly catch up, it raced ahead like its pants were on fire!  (...MONEY fire!  I am aware this makes no sense)

A more apt comparison to the Genesis/SNES would be IMO the 360 and PS3.  Tell me what you think, please.  Keep in mind that the Wii is not going to be either of these; maybe it can be the Game Boy, quietly taking over the world while the other two much more powerful systems duke it out.  Hey, that's not a bad comparison either!  Anyway:    

*The SNES is the successor to a massively popular console that continued to sell very well even well after the next consoles were coming out, the NES fighting against its next-generation competitor (Genesis) quite effectively.   This perfectly describes the events of the past two years, with SNES>PS3, NES>PS2, 360>Genesis.

*The Genesis is a powerful followup to its moderately successful predecessor, gaining quite a foothold especially among teenage gamers -- but it's not as powerful as its later-released competitor.  The 360 is a lot closer to the PS3 than the Genesis was to the SNES, but the comparison is still pretty good.  

*Anyone else remember SegaNet?  I may be misremembering the name, but (at least in the U.S.A.) there existed a service, delivered over the cable TV network, that allowed one to play dozens of Genesis games "online" for a monthly fee.  I only own a couple of Genesis games, because I played all the rest on this service!  This isn't exactly XBLA, but Sega, just like Microsoft, was pioneering online gaming even then. 

*The Genesis, having had quite a head start to build up momentum, was able to push back against the might of the SNES, controlling Europe outright and waging a grisly war of attrition in America that the SNES only won by outliving its competitor.  Japan, however, was no contest; SNES won it easily and Genesis barely got off the ground.  Reverse America and Europe and I think we have a decent prediction of where the 360/PS3 will end up.  I think PS3 will win Europe more than SNES won the USA, but whatever.  The 360 is continuing to tank in Japan, though probably not as badly as the first Xbox did, while the PS3 is IMO gaining steam.  (Again, comparisons to the Wii are not part of this analogy.)

* * * 

I think the comparison really only begins to break down once you get to the Genesis trying to compensate for its less-powerful hardware with increasingly deperate add-ons.  (I love the Sega CD -- ahead of its time, really -- but the 32X was a bastard child that should never have been spawned.)  I strongly doubt that the 360 will make the same mistakes, HD-DVD player jokes aside.  And no comments about the 20/60/80/?? GB PS3s please -- the 360 has its Elite and more damningly the useless Core.  GB values are merely a function of dropping HDD prices.  



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My advice to fanboys: Brag about stuff that's true, not about stuff that's false. Predict stuff that's likely, not stuff that's unlikely. You will be happier, and we will be happier.

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." - Sen. Pat Moynihan
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