Thursday, September 27, 2007

Console War Part 3

In the 32-bit era the Sega Saturn was released at the start, but lacked from third-party games.Sega's decided to use dual processors has been roundly criticized, and some believe the second Computer was added as a kneejerk reaction to the Playstation's meanings. Rumors said that only Sega's first-party developers were never able to make the second CPU effectively. The Sega Saturn was the more difficult console to program for with some titles being dropped during the making process (Sonic X-treme for example), and thats why the 3-D graphics on its third party games often lacked the luster of the PlayStation or Nintendo 64 (N64), a severe minus at the Start of 3-D games.

Sega was also hurt by the plan to have a surprise four month early US launch of their console. This head start failed for several reasons. One of the major reasons being there were few software titles ready. The Sega Saturn was also US$100 more expensive than the PlayStation at its launch, and only available at four retailers.

Sony took an early advantage by initiating an expensive ad campaign and appealing to an older demographic who had grown up playing video games. The PlayStation was positioned as a necessity alongside the TV and VCR. The securing of this demographic is widely credited as the key to the system's success. Sega and particularly Nintendo's offerings were characterized as appealing more to children (both companies, for instance, featured mascots that appeared in Saturday morning cartoons). With Sony's greater hardware sales came greater third party support; ultimately the PlayStation won the era virtually unopposed. Sony carried this momentum over into the release of the PlayStation 2. The Saturn was discontinued in 1998, as Sega again tried to gain a head start over Sony with the Sega Dreamcast.

Although this era is known as the "32-bit era," also loosely grouped into this period is a secondary war between the PlayStation and the 64-bit Nintendo 64 which was released later than the other two consoles with which it was originally meant to compete directly. By the time of its release, Sony had already established their dominance and the Saturn was clearly nearing the end of its life. Its use of cartridge media rather than compact discs alienated developers and publishers due to the space limits and the relatively high cost involved (compare £2 (US$3.50) for an N64 cartridge to 20p (35¢) for a PS1 disc), though the Nintendo 64 had much faster load times because of its cartridge media. In addition, the initially high suggested retail price of the console may have driven potential customers away, and many early adopters of the system who had paid the initial cost were angered by Nintendo's decision to reduce the cost of the system within a few months of its initial release, although compensation was available to those who had claimed. Still, Nintendo managed to carve out a profitable niche in this era selling over 30 million consoles.

The Sony PlayStation was the first clear winner of a console war since the NES.

Worldwide sales figures

* PlayStation: 102.49 million shipped as of March 31, 2005
* Nintendo 64: 32.92 million as of March 31, 2005 (
* Sega Saturn: 9.26 million as of December 2004

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