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Subject: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo rss

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I'd like to discuss the apparent attitude toward video game console hardware exhibited by the three major hardware manufacturers between roughly 2000 and today.

Looking at the sixth generation I feel like the hardware is basically identical. Each manufacturer has released a console that plays games stored on one form digital disc or another. The controllers are more or less identical and iterations of what has been standard since the fifth generation with two analog sticks, shoulder buttons and four primary buttons.

The only difference that stands out to me is that the Gamecube uses a smaller disc, allowing the Gamecube to have a substantially smaller footprint than the PS2 or Xbox. And Nintendo included a handle on the console for ease of carrying. I'm not sure how this impacted the real world if at all. Though it certainly could have made party games like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Party 4/5/6 more popular.

The seventh generation however we see a big shift. Microsoft and Sony are content to release what is essentially the same machine only with more powerful components in the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.

Nintendo on the other hand releases the Wii which goes in a completely different direction. Significantly less performance than the other manufacturers. But which goes in a very different direction with the Wiimotes and introducing motion controls.

The eighth generation see Microsoft and Sony again on standstill. Issuing the Playstation 4 and XboxOne. Only difference once more is increased performance.

Nintendo takes another mechanical risk with the WiiU which once more takes a mechanical backseat to it's rivals. But that includes a controller with a screen. Even taking into consideration the criticism of waggle controls being shoehorned into many of the Wii games the screen controller of the WiiU appears to have been a mistake and sales of the WiiU were considerably lower than for the Wii. But whether it worked or not Nintendo was willing to try something different.

Nintendo has also eschewed the tradition of releasing one console per generation by also releasing the Switch in the eighth generation. The Switch doubles down on what seemed to be a mistake in the WiiU by also using the controller with a screen. But this screen is fully portable and releasing the Pro Controller with the Switch rather than three years later as was the case with the Wii.

So why have Sony and Microsoft abandoned hardware innovation and why has Nintendo embraced it?
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frumpish wrote:
The only difference that stands out to me is that the Gamecube uses a smaller disc, allowing the Gamecube to have a substantially smaller footprint than the PS2 or Xbox. And Nintendo included a handle on the console for ease of carrying. I'm not sure how this impacted the real world if at all. Though it certainly could have made party games like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Party 4/5/6 more popular.


With the broadband adapter it was possible to network up to 8 GameCubes together in a LAN, so I'm sure part of the idea was that people would make use of the system's portability for LAN parties, which were still a thing back then. As an optional accessory though there weren't many games that made use of this, and it never really took off.

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The seventh generation however we see a big shift. Microsoft and Sony are content to release what is essentially the same machine only with more powerful components in the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.


Don't forget the included HD DVD / Blu-ray support, which turned out to be a pretty big deal for PS3 adoption (and also helped Blu-ray win the HD optical format war).

Quote:
Nintendo takes another mechanical risk with the WiiU which once more takes a mechanical backseat to it's rivals. But that includes a controller with a screen. Even taking into consideration the criticism of waggle controls being shoehorned into many of the Wii games the screen controller of the WiiU appears to have been a mistake and sales of the WiiU were considerably lower than for the Wii. But whether it worked or not Nintendo was willing to try something different.


It's worth noting that this wasn't actually the first time Nintendo tried this. With an adapter it was possible to link up to four Game Boy Advances to a single GameCube, allowing for secondary screen display and asymmetric play, which was used by some games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. But as another optional accessory it also didn't really take off.

I don't think the touch screen controller on the Wii U was a mistake per se, but it was not particularly well executed, for example only allowing one tablet controller to be used at a time, and only supporting single-touch rather than multi-touch which was already prevalent on phones and real tablets.
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frumpish wrote:

So why have Sony and Microsoft abandoned hardware innovation and why has Nintendo embraced it?


I think the short answer is that's the company's purpose? Sony and Microsoft are electronics and technology companies, respectively, and so their brand is built around building bigger, faster, stronger hardware/software to power the engines of their televisions or next Windows release. These are companies focused on optimization.

Nintendo is a gaming company. (even started w/playing cards!) So rather than being about stronger/better/faster hardware and software, they're focused on how to deliver a good gaming experience. And clearly remain willing to try all sorts of wacky ideas, even after the early failure of the Virtual Boy (an idea just a few decades too early).
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My own read on the history would be slightly different, but still pointing in the same direction.

Nintendo has never been able to sit still, and I don't think it's accurate to look at the Wii as a groundswell of innovation in the context of their other hardware. The SNES, while remembered today as a 'classic' system whose controller template is still basically the standard, *tripled* the input-complexity of the NES. I'm old enough to remember how daunting that felt. Exciting, yes, but it represented a major risk on their part, and there's no denying that it had a big impact on what developers could do on the software side. The N64 was really their first attempt at a social/party couch-coop system, supporting 4 controllers (unheard of at the time, still uncommon today). The N64 controller was almost weird for the sake of being weird. Rather than thinking in terms of how the SNES controller might evolve (although, they did with the PSX, which we'll get back to in a moment), they basically took a PC joystick and grafted a traditional controller's halves onto each side, for a three-pronged oddity. Around the same time, Nintendo marketed the Virtual Boy, an utterly ridiculous piece of technology that failed outright, and probably dissauded them from being quite so glib about taking hardware risks.

The Gamecube might be their least innovative system ever, but in context that is not at all a surprise. The PSX walloped challengers on all sides, after 10 years of runaway success for Nintendo. The Wii being an over-reaction to this is even less surprising. If you combine Gamecube and Xbox sales (21 million and 25 million, respectively), the PS2 still *tripled* their success. That is ludicrous. Nintendo went from being beaten soundly to being trounced. Since their instinct is and has always been to explore new ways of playing, the Wii makes perfect sense. The problem they needed to solve was not to compete with Sony and MS head-on. It was to walk away from that competition altogether, which is the narrative all three manufacturers have mutually promoted for 13 years. Even when Nintendo is not being meaningfully challenged, they rarely sit still: nothing external prompted them to try their best selling hardware ever (the DS), or to then add risky functionality to it (the 3DS).

The Wii-U's failure is impossible to separate from catastrophically bad marketing. Nintendo's resurgence with the Switch is merely a continuation of the norm.

Saying that Sony and MS have "abandoned" what Nintendo is doing strikes me as seeing all of gaming through the lens of Nintendo.

For one thing, the original playstation is arguably the inheritor of the classic template established by the SNES, which is exactly what it was designed to be, since originally it was a joint project for both companies. Upgrading power but retaining a familiar framework of control means that your customers bring confidence to unknown experiences, which is a great trick if you can manage it. It also means that you can expect greater and greater expertise and refinement from developers. Or, simply put: limiting hardware advances to raw power encourages software innovation.

So, I don't think Sony and MS have "abandoned" anything. They know exactly what they are doing, and they've never been inconsistent doing it. They are content for Nintendo to be the zany goofball hipster doing abstract finger-painting in the corner. It poses very little threat to them economically.
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I would argue that the 80s 90s Nintendo was pretty conservative.

Remember that they were very late to the game with both the SNES and N64. Quite a bit behind Sega and Turbografx in the fourth generation and quite a bit behind Sony and Sega in the fifth generation. By the time the SNES and N64 launched the Genesis and Playstation were both firmly established.

Moreover Nintendo did not move to digital disc games until the Gamecube in 2001. Sega had digital disc games in 1991 (one year after the SNES mind you) and Turbografx had digital disc games in 1989.

(all years North American market)

That puts Nintendo a full decade behind in digital discs and I would argue is the sole reason that their JRPG output was so dramatically far behind Playstation in fifth generation. I mean the Playstation was a JRPG powerhouse and you can count the JRPGs on the N64 with one hand.

And remember that Nintendo sat on the first generation Gameboy for almost ten years before the Gameboy Color was released.

That doesn't strike me as a corporate culture looking to innovate or push things forward.
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Well... yes and no.

The NES was the playstation of the 80s. It was so successful that lots of people actually called all videogames "nintendo games," in the way that some Americans used to call all bluejeans "Levis." So while I see your point that Sega and NEC were ahead of their time with disc-based media, they were very much engaged in David-Vs-Goliath struggles to crack Nintendo's market. I would say the videogame market, but in the 1980s that was a distinction without a difference.

In that context I think it makes more sense to look at what Nintendo did with its own successor to the NES. And it's hard to see how disc-based media in 1991 was going to be a big leap forward - the processing power for 3D wasn't there yet, and the disadvantages (load times) for disc-reading were.

The N64 basically continued that same bet. Nintendo was right that their 64-bit processor made for MUCH better looking 3D graphics... in relative terms. They were right that instantaneous load-times are consumer-friendly. But they were wrong in three big ways. First, excitement about 3D was big enough that consumers simply didn't care much about the relative difference between PSX and N64. To be honest, we all knew that they both looked pretty bad, but we were in uncharted waters, and that's what mattered to people. Second, Nintendo just failed to see how much disc-based games could hammer them with bells and whistles that required lots and lots of megabytes. They should have foreseen that FMV would be a short-lived arms race with substantial impact on advertising. They should have foreseen that consumers were ready to move on from "chiptune" and eager to embrace voice-acting, even when that voice-acting was jaw-droppingly bad ("you, the master of unlocking"). And third, they failed to see that cheaper production and shipping costs for disc-based media would undercut their list prices by $10 to $20 per game, and you can't be the mass-market brand and the luxury brand at the same time.

But not seeing those things is not the same as failing to innovate. The N64 was FAR from a safe, conservative follow-up to the SNES. But is it really a surprise that Nintendo, of all companies, would dismiss something like Full-motion Video as, essentially, empty calories? Do you think someone like Miyamoto saw even the tiniest positive quality in FMV? I don't.

I agree with you that Nintendo made some serious competitive errors. It's harder for me to attribute that to stodgy accustomed-to-success more-of-the-same conservative decision-making.
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For whatever it's worth I think the biggest advantage of disc based games is the ability to span a game over multiple discs. It might be possible to put the same game on multiple cartridges but if that has ever happened I don't know about it.

Perhaps that is covered in the cost argument you are making?
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frumpish wrote:
For whatever it's worth I think the biggest advantage of disc based games is the ability to span a game over multiple discs. It might be possible to put the same game on multiple cartridges but if that has ever happened I don't know about it.

Perhaps that is covered in the cost argument you are making?


Hmmmm... maybe?

It's true that printing and shipping 2 or 3 discs did not raise production costs in a prohibitive way - I'd bet that some of the 4-disc games, like The Legend of Dragoon, cost less to produce than cartridge games.

But, counter-intuitively, the thing causing the use of multiple discs was not so much the size of games as the discs themselves. Meaning, every multi-disc game that I can think of was trying to spread out FMV over those discs, often with the full game itself included on every disc. This is why, if you download PSX games digitally, a three disc game might be 1.1 or 1.2GB, when three discs could hold over 2GB (it's why Final Fantasy VII is that way, among many others).

Just for the sake of example:

Whole game = 350MB
Disc 1 Cutscenes = 350MB
Disc 2 Cutscenes = 350MB
Total game size = ~1GB, but packaged as 1.4 across 2 discs.

That's my understanding of how a lot of PSX games were made. For instance, I'm wrapping up a playthrough of Parasite Eve, which has a very late transition to disc 2. They just ran out of space for the cutscenes associated with the end of the story. The game itself is basically on both discs (you can go to almost every location in the game, with the full soundtrack, on either disc). The file size only exceeds what would fit on one disc by maybe 20%.
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Interesting.

So it wasn't hardware limitations that kept companies from developing JRPGs for the N64, they simply weren't interested in developing on the console for other reasons?
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frumpish wrote:
Interesting.

So it wasn't hardware limitations that kept companies from developing JRPGs for the N64, they simply weren't interested in developing on the console for other reasons?


As crazy as it sounds, the short opening FMV to FFVII is almost certainly bigger, in terms of file size, than any game in the N64 library:



You could do lots of FFVII on the N64, and do some parts of it better. But ultimately it's a question of presentation. People loved those video sequences (and then later loved to hate them, but initially I think reaction was hugely positive).

Can you imagine the game without the famous death scene? I don't think there was any going back after that. And if you're a jRPG company that isn't Squaresoft, you probably see Squaresoft as pointing the way to fortune and profit.
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Ok, so probably my arguments about conservative approach and innovation are off the mark.

I still would like to discuss that the differences between the Playstation, PS2, PS3, and PS4 and the Xbox, Xbox 360 and XboxOne are subtle.

Whereas the N64, GameCube, Wii, WiiU and Switch feel like they are all over the map.
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JohnRayJr wrote:
frumpish wrote:
For whatever it's worth I think the biggest advantage of disc based games is the ability to span a game over multiple discs. It might be possible to put the same game on multiple cartridges but if that has ever happened I don't know about it.

Perhaps that is covered in the cost argument you are making?


Hmmmm... maybe?

It's true that printing and shipping 2 or 3 discs did not raise production costs in a prohibitive way - I'd bet that some of the 4-disc games, like The Legend of Dragoon, cost less to produce than cartridge games.

But, counter-intuitively, the thing causing the use of multiple discs was not so much the size of games as the discs themselves. Meaning, every multi-disc game that I can think of was trying to spread out FMV over those discs, often with the full game itself included on every disc. This is why, if you download PSX games digitally, a three disc game might be 1.1 or 1.2GB, when three discs could hold over 2GB (it's why Final Fantasy VII is that way, among many others).

Just for the sake of example:

Whole game = 350MB
Disc 1 Cutscenes = 350MB
Disc 2 Cutscenes = 350MB
Total game size = ~1GB, but packaged as 1.4 across 2 discs.

That's my understanding of how a lot of PSX games were made. For instance, I'm wrapping up a playthrough of Parasite Eve, which has a very late transition to disc 2. They just ran out of space for the cutscenes associated with the end of the story. The game itself is basically on both discs (you can go to almost every location in the game, with the full soundtrack, on either disc). The file size only exceeds what would fit on one disc by maybe 20%.


An issue with multi-cartridge games would be that any game large enough to need multiple cartridges surely also needs save games. On the NES and SNES the only place to store those save games was on the physical cartridge. If you have to swap out the cartridge to continue, then there needs to be some way of keeping those save games in sync across multiple cartridges. The N64 could have gotten around this with memory cards, though.

It's not just save games, either. There's a common misconception that a game cartridge was basically just a ROM. However, it was pretty common for them to include additional processing hardware needed by the game as well. A well-known example is the Super FX chip used by Star Fox. If Star Fox had been a multi-cartridge game, they would have needed to package a Super FX chip on every cartridge, raising the cost even further.
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Aside from the Virtual Boy, I consider the N64 one of Nintendo's first big follies. I didn't see it mentioned above, unless I just missed it, but the Playstation was birthed out of Nintendo abandoning the plan to build the first disc based Nintendo. That's almost like a good backstory for a movie villain. It goes off in its own direction, sure that it's making the right decision, only to realize later it made a terrible mistake, and hates the one who made the better decision early on.

Discs were easy to break or scratch, and Nintendo wanted to stay more friendly to kids, so they stuck with cartridges in a time when games were trying to be more lengthy and expressive.

I was born in 1980, and I grew up along with the video game industry. When I wanted more thought provoking and deep games, Sony delivered those with the Playstation. Nintendo tee'd it up with some great SNES JRPGs like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV and VI, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Earthbound, etc, but Playstation knocked it out of the park with its slew of JRPGs over its lifespan.

I didn't actually buy a Nintendo 64, and didn't even really want one when I was a teenager. I was happy with my more mature Playstation.

Moving back into the original topic, I enjoyed the Gamecube, but I felt it was a distant 3rd place behind the Playstation 2 and Xbox at the time.

When Nintendo went into the next gen with the Wii, I thought they had lost their mind. They were no longer targeting the gamers who grew up with Nintendo, but targeting children and nursing homes. It worked out ok for them, but I feel like a lot of the hardcore gaming crowd didn't stick with them. The Wii U was a failure all around. It had little new content to keep it relevant. It also promised things that never panned out, like allowing for dual gamepads on the same system. It also killed off the Fatal Frame series, which I won't forgive anytime soon.

With the Switch, I was really skeptical, but I ended up getting one about 7 months after it came out. I really enjoy the system, but I feel like they made a lot of terrible decisions with it. The online service wasn't ready, so they launched without it. It had no way of backing up save files, which has been around since the Playstation 1 days. Even now, they have the online service, but they keep shoveling out NES games instead of giving people some better SNES or later games.

As for the Playstation 4 vs Xbox One, this was another interesting case. The Playstation 4 kept the same formula of previous entries, but Microsoft was going to try something way different. The Xbox One would have permanently tied games to it, so you couldn't resell, rent, or borrow games. It was also going to be online always, and force people to have the Kinect active and working at all times. However, before the Xbox One launched, they went back on a lot of those things and essentially released a console similar to Playstation 4. It still required a Kinect at first, but they eventually did away with that after the early adopters already had to fork over the money for it.

Microsoft has really dropped the ball this current gen in my opinion. I loved the original Xbox, and even the Xbox 360 quite a bit, but my Xbox One has collected dust most of the time I've had it. They haven't put much emphasis on exclusive games, so any multi-platform games would be better bought on the PS4, along with all the other exclusive games I'm buying for the PS4. The Xbox Game Pass is a great offering, however, so I can see them getting some pretty good sales just on that alone.

Anyway, this post is getting tremendously long, so I'll stop there.
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One thing I think is interesting:

When you look at the N64 and the PSX as a parting of ways, where two huge corporations had intended to collaborate but instead go in their own direction, the PSX is by far the less innovative system.

It's the pragmatic system. It is a more powerful SNES, with more storage, new production efficiencies, and lower price points. The original PSX controller is identical in shape and layout (analog sticks came later... purely to protect Sony's flank from Nintendo). If you emulated an SNES game on the PSX, you wouldn't have to do anything when it came to button mapping, there wouldn't be any problems to solve. Not so on N64.

PSX is the hardnosed, we're-here-to-sell-units system. It is not the dreamer system. It is not the try new things system. The one change it makes is about efficiency and money.

And in a competitive sense, Sony made the right call and Nintendo did indeed have its head in the clouds. But it is very difficult to analyze those two systems and say that Nintendo was stuck in the past, failing to innovate, being conservative, etc. Literally every new gameplay feature is on the side of the N64 - Rumble, Analog, 4P party gaming. All of the risks. Everything safe is on the side of the PSX.

It's true that Nintendo struggled with how to proceed as a family brand. But that only gave Sony another reason NOT to innovate on the hardware side. The brand was a blank slate. They could have Resident Evil on the same system as Crash Bandicoot and no one would say, "but it's Sony."
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Discs were easy to break or scratch, and Nintendo wanted to stay more friendly to kids, so they stuck with cartridges in a time when games were trying to be more lengthy and expressive.


It wasn't just the 90s that Nintendo either preferred the cartridge, had misgivings about optical discs or both. They moved back to the cartridge with the Switch.

And for what it's worth they never used CD, DVD, BluRay or HDDVD. They always had their own format known as the Nintendo Optical Disc.

Wikipedia article on Nintendo Optical Discs
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frumpish wrote:
Quote:
Discs were easy to break or scratch, and Nintendo wanted to stay more friendly to kids, so they stuck with cartridges in a time when games were trying to be more lengthy and expressive.


It wasn't just the 90s that Nintendo either preferred the cartridge, had misgivings about optical discs or both. They moved back to the cartridge with the Switch.

And for what it's worth they never used CD, DVD, BluRay or HDDVD. They always had their own format known as the Nintendo Optical Disc.

Wikipedia article on Nintendo Optical Discs


Moving back to cartridge/game card for the Switch isn't as notable because a game card can easily hold enough to contain any game released today (well mostly). Back in the N64 days, they were limiting themselves considerably.

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Flash memory has always been better than optical discs when it comes to the end-user experience. If I put a Solid State drive in my PS4, it would perform better than it does off the shelf. If the PS4 shipped games on 64GB flash drives instead of blu-ray discs, that would be preferable in every way but one: cost.

But I do think it goes beyond that for Nintendo, and into a long history of only using proprietary media.
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Peristarkawan wrote:
frumpish wrote:
The seventh generation however we see a big shift. Microsoft and Sony are content to release what is essentially the same machine only with more powerful components in the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.


Don't forget the included HD DVD / Blu-ray support, which turned out to be a pretty big deal for PS3 adoption (and also helped Blu-ray win the HD optical format war).

FWIW, the Xbox One was cheaper b/c it didn't force this on the users. OTOH, it did have at least the following cons I'm aware of:
-"fragmentation"
Games on PS3 had to be on BD, so that was standardized. OTOH, I'd reckon some games for Xb360 required that optional HD-DVD add-on?
-AFAIK, a good number of ppl opted NOT to get it, which forced most games to be on regular DVD
-"jokes" around that time was you could get a Wii + an Xbox 360 for the price of a PS3

Worth noting is Wii saved money by NOT going the HD route. Fanbois were arguing what's 1080p vs. 1080i on the 360 vs. PS3, while Nintendo's official stance was "people didn't really need to see their iconic mushrooms in 3D". It was a bold gambit that paid off. That said, I'm glad the Wii U went HD. Made large levels (like in the platformer Mario games, and Super Smash Bros.) much more bearable to play.


Peristarkawan wrote:
frumpish wrote:
Nintendo takes another mechanical risk with the WiiU which once more takes a mechanical backseat to it's rivals. But that includes a controller with a screen. Even taking into consideration the criticism of waggle controls being shoehorned into many of the Wii games the screen controller of the WiiU appears to have been a mistake and sales of the WiiU were considerably lower than for the Wii. But whether it worked or not Nintendo was willing to try something different.


It's worth noting that this wasn't actually the first time Nintendo tried this. With an adapter it was possible to link up to four Game Boy Advances to a single GameCube, allowing for secondary screen display and asymmetric play, which was used by some games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. But as another optional accessory it also didn't really take off.

I don't think the touch screen controller on the Wii U was a mistake per se, but it was not particularly well executed, for example only allowing one tablet controller to be used at a time, and only supporting single-touch rather than multi-touch which was already prevalent on phones and real tablets.
The one that stood out to me for GBA was Legend Of Zelda: The Four Swords. Played that at a meet up one time, and the "gimmick" of coop Zelda was indeed fun (whatever the story/thematic reasons be damned).

If I were to take a wild guess, the Wii U pad did resistive touch screen (detects physical pressure. Biggest example was Palm OS handhelds. Due to tech limitations, these Can NOT do multi-touch input!) since they're cheaper than capacitive touch screens (e.g. modern phones, most notably, Android and iOS).



Osirus wrote:
Nintendo is a gaming company. (even started w/playing cards!) So rather than being about stronger/better/faster hardware and software, they're focused on how to deliver a good gaming experience. And clearly remain willing to try all sorts of wacky ideas, even after the early failure of the Virtual Boy (an idea just a few decades too early).
I still can't get over how they tried to delve into the taxicab industry, as well as the "love hotel" one as it was known in Japan! (even if brief) wow

If nothing else, that's the sort of audience Sony and M$ are aiming for
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ackmondual wrote:
Osirus wrote:
Nintendo is a gaming company. (even started w/playing cards!) So rather than being about stronger/better/faster hardware and software, they're focused on how to deliver a good gaming experience. And clearly remain willing to try all sorts of wacky ideas, even after the early failure of the Virtual Boy (an idea just a few decades too early).
I still can't get over how they tried to delve into the taxicab industry, as well as the "love hotel" one as it was known in Japan! (even if brief) wow


It's fairly well known that Nintendo started out in playing cards. It's somewhat less recognized that their primary customers were Yakuza gambling parlors.
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I'm was flabbergasted how people, keep, scratching/breaking/losing CDs, and other optical discs. TBF, some of these were children. Case in point is no way in hell I'm letting a kid borrow my phone. I can see why adults always have them in those thicker, rubber casings. Even if it never happened to me, I acknowledge it was an issue, so nice of Nintendo to stick with cartridge (caveat below), and then them "glorified SD cards" for the Switch.

Then we entered an age of "digital only", "no physical media", which also had its ups and downs. On the Mobile market, some family sharing, but your game could get "yanked" (not literally, but more so if it wasn't supported/updated anymore), and it also meant that more shovelware was a thing.


JohnRayJr wrote:
frumpish wrote:
Interesting.

So it wasn't hardware limitations that kept companies from developing JRPGs for the N64, they simply weren't interested in developing on the console for other reasons?


As crazy as it sounds, the short opening FMV to FFVII is almost certainly bigger, in terms of file size, than any game in the N64 library:



You could do lots of FFVII on the N64, and do some parts of it better. But ultimately it's a question of presentation. People loved those video sequences (and then later loved to hate them, but initially I think reaction was hugely positive).

Can you imagine the game without the famous death scene? I don't think there was any going back after that. And if you're a jRPG company that isn't Squaresoft, you probably see Squaresoft as pointing the way to fortune and profit.
Back in 00's when Palm OS was competing vs. Windows Mobile for business and individual consumers... some guy posted he was able to emulate FF7 for Windows Mobile (of note, Windows Mobile handhelds tend to have better hardware). It was as small as 222MB, but after you strip out all FMV cutscenes, and audio! wowwow

And yeah, as a Nintendo fan, you'll catch me saying Sony had a good thing with CDs for the PS1. Some of the load times were horrendous, but, things were overall nice at least.


Peristarkawan wrote:
ackmondual wrote:
Osirus wrote:
Nintendo is a gaming company. (even started w/playing cards!) So rather than being about stronger/better/faster hardware and software, they're focused on how to deliver a good gaming experience. And clearly remain willing to try all sorts of wacky ideas, even after the early failure of the Virtual Boy (an idea just a few decades too early).
I still can't get over how they tried to delve into the taxicab industry, as well as the "love hotel" one as it was known in Japan! (even if brief) wow


It's fairly well known that Nintendo started out in playing cards. It's somewhat less recognized that their primary customers were Yakuza gambling parlors.
No arguments there. I've read up on their 100+ year history. I was surprised Nintendo could be "like that" since the Nintendo I grew up with had them tending to be more "prudes"
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GibbRS wrote:
When Nintendo went into the next gen with the Wii, I thought they had lost their mind. They were no longer targeting the gamers who grew up with Nintendo, but targeting children and nursing homes. It worked out ok for them, but I feel like a lot of the hardcore gaming crowd didn't stick with them. The Wii U was a failure all around. It had little new content to keep it relevant. It also promised things that never panned out, like allowing for dual gamepads on the same system. It also killed off the Fatal Frame series, which I won't forgive anytime soon.


I find this comment strange, because my look upon the Wii U was exactly to gamerize the Wii. Essentially (for me), it was a Wii with added power and everything that pointed towards "yeah, we still like you gamers too, so here's a something for you". The main game pad had the typical controller functions, and the extra screen meant for me hard core gamer possibilities that no other console could. Granted, these possibilities were never fully explored, but as JohnRayJr noted, I think that was rather due to bad marketting than the console being sub-par. And the fact that the market had moved to mostly multi-platform games, and thus it was hard to make an expensive game that made full use of this extra screen.

And killed off Zero (Fatal Frame)? How is that? What was wrong with Maidens of the Black Water? I thought it was awesome, and it made nice use of the control pad, too.

On another note, one thing I learned from the book "The history of Japanese Video Game Industry" (a book not about video games, but of the video game industry), the PS3 was economically a huge failure for Sony. When it launched, the production price was more than double the shop price, and even when they'd stripped off everything at the end of its history, it still didn't make a profit. The previous machines had indeed been too expensive at launch, but had gradually become cheaper as production prices lowered. But the PS3 never caught up (or down) – it was apparently a financially huge loss for Sony from the start till the end. Of course, this is not counting the slighty-harder-to-calculate "market gain" value. The sales of the PS4 are, of course, directly influenced with how well the PS3 did, so in the end, the "loss" from the PS3 can be seen as investment into a market value.

Personally, I stand with Nintendo for being crazy. I fully agree in the notion that they have always been the innovators, those who push it forward, whereas Sony and Microsoft have been mainly doing a slick, polished machine that does all the old things better. I did think that the N64 was conservative in its choice of storage medium, but everything else it did was adventurous experimenting.

I'm very sad that Nintendo didn't go more wild with marketting the Wii U – they should have let indie makers go bananas on that console, producing weird stuff that made use of the extra screen. After the SNES, Nintendo had never run with fastest or shiniest hardware, but from hardware innovation and new ideas – the extra screen was an AMAZING idea. But they seemed to think that AAA developpers would start doing stuff for their extra screen just automatically – when they themselves barely did. The ones that DID use the screen for fun things were the smaller third-party ones. And from what I heard, they had a hard time developping for the Wii U, because Nintendo was so restrictive in giving out licenses. As far as I'm concerned, that was shooting themselves in the foot.
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Zimeon wrote:
On another note, one thing I learned from the book "The history of Japanese Video Game Industry" (a book not about video games, but of the video game industry), the PS3 was economically a huge failure for Sony. When it launched, the production price was more than double the shop price, and even when they'd stripped off everything at the end of its history, it still didn't make a profit. The previous machines had indeed been too expensive at launch, but had gradually become cheaper as production prices lowered. But the PS3 never caught up (or down) – it was apparently a financially huge loss for Sony from the start till the end. Of course, this is not counting the slighty-harder-to-calculate "market gain" value. The sales of the PS4 are, of course, directly influenced with how well the PS3 did, so in the end, the "loss" from the PS3 can be seen as investment into a market value.


Sony always sold their consoles at a loss (not sure about their handhelds though). Their plan was to make it up with software sales. Ninendo's consoles have always been sold at profit. Even with the drastic cut that the 3DS received due to initial poor sales, were also at a profit.

Zimeon wrote:
Personally, I stand with Nintendo for being crazy. I fully agree in the notion that they have always been the innovators, those who push it forward, whereas Sony and Microsoft have been mainly doing a slick, polished machine that does all the old things better. I did think that the N64 was conservative in its choice of storage medium, but everything else it did was adventurous experimenting.


I also agree that Nintendo has been the leader in innovation in the videogame industry for most of it existence. They took risks such as the Virtual Boy and the Wii. However, I don't think Sony and Microsoft have been just making minor improvements on previous systems. I believe Sony led the way to standardize CDs. The original PlayStation became the hub for publishers to try new gameplay and gave rise to hybrid and even new genres. It changed the demographic of videogame players, breaking the perception that videogames were seen only as kid's games. Microsoft, for their part, innovated online play. It's Xbox live is the gold standard IMO.

Zimeon wrote:
I'm very sad that Nintendo didn't go more wild with marketting the Wii U – they should have let indie makers go bananas on that console, producing weird stuff that made use of the extra screen. After the SNES, Nintendo had never run with fastest or shiniest hardware, but from hardware innovation and new ideas – the extra screen was an AMAZING idea. But they seemed to think that AAA developpers would start doing stuff for their extra screen just automatically – when they themselves barely did. The ones that DID use the screen for fun things were the smaller third-party ones. And from what I heard, they had a hard time developping for the Wii U, because Nintendo was so restrictive in giving out licenses. As far as I'm concerned, that was shooting themselves in the foot.


Nintendo's handling of licensing gave Sony the window of opportunity to bring a majority of 3rd party publishers to take a chance in developing games for an unknown gaming console at that time. I think the WiiU was dead on arrival. The marketing dept didn't know what to make of it and it showed. Nintendo's treatment of 3rd party publishers hurt them on this system as well.
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One tidbit about the collaboration of Nintendo and Sony. Everyone thinks Nintendo made a stupid decision not to go with CD technology at that time. The president at that time was not a fan of CD for use on a videogame console but approved the partnership with Sony to see where this led. It turned out the contract between the 2 heavily favored Sony if the Nintendo PlayStation came to market. Sony had a clause in the contract where they had sole ownership for anything that was produced on CD while Nintendo would continue producing games on cartridge. Sony also made it known that they wanted to produce their own gaming console and this was their foot in the door. Sometime after the contract was signed, Nintendo's lawyers saw how lopsided the contract was in Sony's favor and Nintendo used a loophole in the contract to get out. Nintendo still wanted to pursue CD technology and partnered with Philips that resulted in Philip's CD-i. The CD -i's crappy use of Nintendo's IP and game development in general, caused it to flop and this reinforced Nintendo's negative view of CD technology in videogames.
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frumpish wrote:
So why have Sony and Microsoft abandoned hardware innovation and why has Nintendo embraced it?

I beleive the answer is in what has allowed Nintendo to embrace it: IP.

In industrial design, there is a known trope in that consumers only what something new if its newness is something that is easy for them to see and show off, but doesn't bring any inconvenience by way of having to relearn its use. That is why even a brilliant idea can flop in the market, leading to the pioneering company to flop as well, only to reappear some 10 years later to applause as a feature on your namebrand appliance. So what happens is extremely incremental design changes that bring new features in slowly so the consumers can adapt.

However, there are 2 situations where a company can get away with radical changes and new design. First if they are in a niche. Niche markets have a funny effect in that people tend to expect to pay more for a less common item. From the side of the business this means smaller product runs at higher margins to a population who is already expecting something edgy. So there is less financial risk in a new design failing, and similarly there tends to be less risk of losing one's audience. They are afterall in a niche market, and being part of that is sometimes more important to the consumer than a successful product.

The second situation where a designer can get away with radical changes is when they have a near monopoly on the market. If am the only one making chairs, I can make them whatever color I want. And this is where IP comes in. While Nintendo is not the only one make consoles, they are the only one making their specific titles. So in that regard they do have an effective monopoly and have historically used their titles as the means to sell their consoles.

And more often than not, the 2 situation of having a monopoly and creating a niche market go hand in hand. Having the IP let them sell their consoles even when the market wanted a different console but being the place to go for things the market didn't want let them carve out a niche. This why the colloquial answer of "why did you buy a Wii" are either "to play the new Zelda" or "because Nintendo is always doing something new and weird." Once speaks to a Monoploly, the other a niche.

So in short, it that the early strategies of the companies in regard to first party development made them build out their markets in different enough ways that while they all sell consoles, they really aren't selling the same product.
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For me, a big part of the next gen consoles were the games. Especially for Nintendo, that's where you literally get the next crop of Nintendo titles. FWIW, they did take advantage of the new hardware. There was a Virtual Boy game, top down shooter where you can press a button to travel between the background and foreground. One reviewer commented there really wasn't any reason this couldn't have been on the previous system.

Famicom to SNES wasn't just more accessible games (it was hard to find Famicom cartridges in the US), but 8-bit to 16-bit graphics was night and day. Ditto with 8 channel audio, and a controller with not just 4, but 8 buttons!

n64 had 3D, and that zany controller. Wii had even better graphics, and I know I'm in the minority but the motion controller wasn't too shabby. Wii U had the gamepad, HD, and a graphical update that at least let it get the same titles as its PS and Xb counterparts. In fact, I heard that many 3rd party devs avoided porting to Wii b/c it didn't have the resources to run the same games that was for PS3 and 360 at the time (well, perhaps amongst other reasons). Case in point was I was both shocked and delighted to find Mortal Kombat (9) for Wii U. Also, using the game pad to display moves list sounds neat in theory, but in practice, since the game doesn't pause, your opponent is clobbering you while you're looking up the moves

.

IIRC, Wii made about $40 per console sold, whereas PS3 lost about that much per console sold.


Making motion controls standard on the Wii did help with keep it more prolific (despite how underused it still was). AFAIK, PlayStation's Move and Xbox Kinect had some fun titles, but remained even more niche.


Oni no board wrote:
One tidbit about the collaboration of Nintendo and Sony. Everyone thinks Nintendo made a stupid decision not to go with CD technology at that time. The president at that time was not a fan of CD for use on a videogame console but approved the partnership with Sony to see where this led. It turned out the contract between the 2 heavily favored Sony if the Nintendo PlayStation came to market. Sony had a clause in the contract where they had sole ownership for anything that was produced on CD while Nintendo would continue producing games on cartridge. Sony also made it known that they wanted to produce their own gaming console and this was their foot in the door. Sometime after the contract was signed, Nintendo's lawyers saw how lopsided the contract was in Sony's favor and Nintendo used a loophole in the contract to get out. Nintendo still wanted to pursue CD technology and partnered with Philips that resulted in Philip's CD-i. The CD -i's crappy use of Nintendo's IP and game development in general, caused it to flop and this reinforced Nintendo's negative view of CD technology in videogames.
One TV expose/documentary described the deal as Nintendo "handing over the keys to the castle".
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