The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that just seems to be growing every year. There are so many different companies out there, and all of them are vying for market share. These days, more people than ever are gaming, and it’s estimated that more than 80% of American households own a gaming console of some kind. It’s fair to say that games play a big role in our lives, not least with the growth of online and mobile gaming.
When it comes to big names in the gaming world, Microsoft and Sony are up there these days. But, back in the day, it was pretty much just Nintendo and Sega. These guys were the two heavyweights fighting it out for supremacy, each trying to defeat the other by producing better and more innovative gaming experiences. The console war raged for some time, and many of us know a lot about it – here are a few things you didn’t know.
Both of the companies produced multiple consoles over the years, with varying degrees of success. When it came to handheld there was the Nintendo Game Boy, and the Sega Game Gear – we don’t know about you, but we feel the Game Boy was a clear winner there. There was also the Master System vs. the NES, as well as the Mega Drive and the SNES, which arguably signaled the heyday for both companies. In recent years, as we know, Sega has ceased producing and manufacturing consoles, while Nintendo has released the Wii, and is fighting for market share with Microsoft and Sony.
The companies also battled for a fanbase with the signature games they released. While Nintendo used Super Mario to spearhead their push for dominance, Sega’s poster boy was a blue hedgehog named Sonic. Sega boasted a much bigger library of games in the 1990s, though some would argue the quality of titles from Nintendo worked out much better. There was much talk of the tortoise and the hare approach, which served Nintendo well over the years, and has been one of the reasons behind their success these days.
Rise and fall
The console war of the ‘90s was one of the most exciting and close fought wars, for console fans at least. But, as they say, all things must come to an end, and the battle ended emphatically in the mid to late 1990s. In 1995-96 Nintendo released the Nintendo 64, which Sega wheeled out the Sega Saturn. While the N64 became a huge success, the Saturn flopped, and Sega lost a lot of ground. Several years later the final nail in the coffin came, when the Sega Dreamcast, released in 2001. It was in competition with the Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, and the Microsoft Xbox. The Dreamcast was a spectacular commercial failure, and crippled Sega, forcing them into retirement in terms of console production.
Nintendo emphatically triumphed in the console war, but, in many ways, Sega were the architects of their own downfall. Weirdly, Segas and Sony actually had the opportunity to collaborate, and would no doubt have taken down Nintendo, but it didn’t happen. Eventually, Sega found themselves unable to evolve with the times, and the two flops they had pretty much crippled the company. The GameCube was not a huge success for Nintendo, but their smart business acumen saved them, and they bounced back with the Wii.