Thursday, 28 June 2012

Where did it go wrong for Nintendo & Sega - Part One

In this series of blog posts I want to discuss where its all gone wrong for Nintendo and Sega.  As you are probably already aware Sega pulled out of the hardware business after the Dreamcast tanked.  That wasn't to say it was a particularly bad machine but I personally think it was released too soon after the Saturn. But these days Sega now concentrate on software - more specifically games - rather than hardware. It has to be said Nintendo seem to be heading in the same direction.

But why? My own thoughts are that this had been coming to Nintendo for some time.  The reasons Sega ended up pulling out of making hardware was, in my opinion, that they were a little bit too adventurous and expensive. Going all the way back to the Genesis and Game Gear, Sega were always keen to produce gimmick add-ons that whilst they did provide extra functionality they were expensive and often poorly supported. Examples of this would be the Game Gear's TV adapter and the Genesis' 32X and Mega-CD.

Nintendo have shown glimpses of the same behaviour with devices such as the Virtual Boy which was a disaster in every possible way.  But that isn't the reason in my opinion. For me the reason Nintendo's profits are now on the skids is because they are too conservative with hardware.

I will try to qualify that now. For as long as I can remember Nintendo seem to sell their hardware for slightly less than the comparable Sega product. The Gameboy I seem to remember was similarly priced to the Game Gear but it had much better battery life due to it sporting a black and white display and had an arguably better catalogue of games. The NES obliterated the Master System everywhere except the US where sales were moderate for the Sega machine. The SNES was cheaper than the Genesis and was better in a couple of areas - it had a superior sound chip and it had dedicated graphics capabilities for rotating backgrounds - the famous Mode 7.

The slide downhill in Nintendo's case begins with the N64. Whilst it did have revolutionary games like Goldeneye and Mario 64 the biggest problem was that it was cartridge based.  The N64 was released in 1994. Sony had released their Playstation two years earlier and whilst arguably comparable in terms of graphics the Playstation, being CD-Rom based meant the games were cheaper to manufacture and also allowed the owner to listen to music CDs and play video cds.  By being two years late bringing their products to market and handicapping it by making it more costly for everyone they were simply shooting themselves in the foot. Ironically the Playstation was created specifically to annoy Nintendo after a partnership project between the two to produce a CD-Rom attachment for the SNES fell through and Nintendo turned Judas and opted to work with Philips.

I have always found Nintendo's excuse - sorry - reason for sticking with cartridges with to reduce piracy - something quite laughable when we look back now at the DS which has had virtually it's whole library ripped onto the internet and loaded onto countless R4 and DSTT cartridges...

Part Two. 

No comments:

Post a Comment