During the late 1980’s and 1990’s a secret conflict raged across America; however, it was not fought with soldiers and armies, but rather with corporate strategy. It was the battle between Nintendo and Sega to convince the world that one was better than the other in every way and here’s how it went down.
Quality over quantity
Nintendo was obsessed with pushing the boundaries of what their gaming systems could do, and this consequently meant that they were always behind Sega when it came to the number of games they sold to the public. The focus on their console instead of game content was a risky strategy. Nintendo just concentrated on their most popular ideas; like Mario and Donkey Kong. They rejected most other work as it almost never met Nintendo’s high standards. This led to a lack of diversity in what they offered, something Sega took full advantage of.
Sega’s internal troubles
Sega was not immune to its own struggles either because the American and Japanese branches of the company were frequently at odds with one another and this led to Sega making so many games, people couldn’t keep track of all of them. It also meant that they did not invest enough into their consoles and games which left Sega with a problem – poor quality compared to Nintendo. It didn’t help that the Japanese branch was often very jealous of their American colleague’s financial success and, as a result, many managers on the Japanese side pushed their employees to work harder and longer hours, and this did not help staff morale.
Some interesting advertising
Probably the biggest battle these powerhouses fought was on the grounds of advertising. The Sega team in America wanted to push an aggressive marketing campaign to show that Sega had better products than Nintendo. The board of directors on the Japanese side were wary of this approach as it went against their country’s very conservative views on business. Luckily for them, the CEO, Mr Nakayama, actually wanted to pursue this direction as he personally believed it would save them. But Nintendo stood their ground and used the same strategy as Sega. They were more successful than Sega because they had more well-known games and consoles. Their investment into 3D gaming technology also pushed them ahead of Sega.
Mario vs Sonic
These two mascots were synonymous with a great childhood in the 90’s and they were the faces of their respective companies. Sonic was designed by the Japanese side of Sega and was originally intended to be a lot darker and menacing, something that could have worked great in Japan but not in America, so they removed his fangs and sharp claws to create the Sonic we know today. Mario, on the other hand, was originally meant to be a Popeye game but due to complications it had to be changed, and so Nintendo created Mario and his brother Luigi. He became an instant icon and ultimately people preferred him over Sonic.
Wars without winners
Like most grand battles, in the end, there are no true winners. Although Nintendo took the lead over Sega in the late ‘90s, they eventually got overtaken by newer companies and their consoles. In the end, not even Mario could save Nintendo from the likes of Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation, which are now the worldwide leaders in all things gaming.