Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

From what I understand, a big proponent in the revival (which was centered around the birth of the NES) was that Game Consoles were marketed more as toys than computers, right?

So instead of finding the NES next to your other PCs at the time, it was near the toy aisle?

I don't have a specific source for this, besides some memory of podcasts and articles touching on the topic throughout the years.

Anyone who maybe was able to witness the revival able to comment with their anecdotes?




That was a large part of it.

Nintendo also didn't try to oversell the systems capabilities or the games, which was a big problem with the marketing materials for older games and game systems.

They also limited 3rd party companies ability to make games for the system (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIC_(Nintendo)#10NES) to ensure a certain degree of quality. That's also the origin of the gold Nintendo Seal.

The NES also had Super Mario Bros as a launch title in the US and that game holds up incredibly well to this day. It was truly a big leap in video game design, especially considering games like Ms Pacman and Donkey Kong Jr. were winning Best Game awards in magazines the year before the NES launched.

Lastly, the Light Gun and Duck Hunt were also big system sellers. As far as I know, no other console had an experience like that and much like the Wii and the DS, gimmicks like that are very popular among people who don't play a lot of traditional video games.

You should also consider the velocity that Nintendo launched into the console industry with. A year after the NES came out, The Legend of Zelda came out which was another giant leap in game design and the first home console game to allow you to save your progress. Two years after that Super Mario Bros. 3 came out which was an absolutely massive leap over the first Super Mario Bros. A year after that they launch the GameBoy and suddenly you can play Super Mario Land on the go.

Nintendo was responsible for a lot of innovation in a very short amount of time.


What's wild is the fact that Nintendo has consistently innovated in unexpected ways pretty much the entire time they've been around. Whether it's control schemes, new takes on mobile gaming, their camera controls for 3D gaming in a world that hadn't really seen genuine 3D games before, etc.

They're constantly bringing new stuff to the table, so even though each iteration of Mario might not be that far off from the previous one design-wise, you're approaching it in a completely fresh way.


Yeah they are definitely my favorite video game company for that reason.

I find it amusing that their long and innovative history also includes things like selling instant rice, their own "love hotels" for people to use with prostitutes, and a taxi company in the time after their playing card business declined but before their video game business took off.

"Nintendo" could mean something very different today had certain parts of their business performed differently.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo#History


>was that Game Consoles were marketed more as toys than computers, right?

Well, even if one wanted to, a marketing exec really couldn't advertise Nintendo NES as a "general computer" since it had no keyboard nor ability to connect a disk drive and printer. The "toy" aspect was an intrinsic property of NES (the "E" in Nintendo _E_ntertainment System) rather than a marketing angle. Therefore, its focus on gaming dictated the type of commercials you could run to advertise it.[1]

From what I remember, the Nintendo NES was the first console where the quality of the games closely matched the real arcade versions.[2] Donkey Kong was a prime example. The NES version looked, sounded, and played like the real thing. (This wasn't true arcade games licensed & ported to Commodore 64, Intellivision, Atari, etc.)

The combination of low price point with higher quality games I think were the key factors for its success.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDFvkWY6tJU

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=donkey+kong+arcade+original&...


Well, even if one wanted to, a marketing exec really couldn't advertise Nintendo NES as a "general computer" since it had no keyboard nor ability to connect a disk drive and printer.

This was a conscience choice by Nintendo of America though. The Japanese counterpart of the NES has the hardware and software capabilities of a computer, like a disk and cassette recorder, BASIC, and a keyboard. These were never released in the US.


They made it as far as prototyping those devices, before the NES was released. http://nintendo.wikia.com/wiki/Nintendo_AVS


The Nintendo Famicom is an abbreviation of Family Computer. You could get a keyboard and BASIC as an accessory.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_BASIC


I remember this well. I was a teen game developer then, writing and selling games for the Vic-20 and the C-64. It seems now, looking back, it was the classic cycle of technology advancing faster than people expected. We had fairly popular coin-op arcades filled with teens spending quarters in 1980, and then within two years very low cost home computers like the Vic-20 had pixel perfect versions of a few of the same games. The Atari console and similar had "remakes" of the popular arcade coin-ops, and were only beginning to develop franchises of their own. Then the ColecoVision comes out in '82 with pixel perfect versions of every single Namco and Nintendo arcade coin-op, plus expansion hardware gave it first Atari computer compatibility, and then it's own computer branded the Atom. These developments basically caused all the arcades to close, between their reputations as "seedy" places for teens and the sudden flood of previously coin-op titles being easy to play at home, they lost their audience.

There was a lot of entrepreneurial game development in this period, and a lot of really bad games. The market was saturated, the quality was not nearly as high as during the coin-op prime, not enough revenues were being recovered by the major players, and the market collapsed soon after '83. The market seemed to move past games. Computers like the Mac were released.

Only one company seemed to be quietly persevering with a steady stream of quality titles: Nintendo.


I've read that Nintendo basically had to make guarantees to big retailers like Sears that they would buy back any un-sold stock. That kind of risk taking coupled with the reasonable assumption (particularly in hindsight) that video games weren't just a fad along with the quality of games like Super Mario Bros. was the recipe for the NES re-starting the industry.


> So instead of finding the NES next to your other PCs at the time, it was near the toy aisle?

> Anyone who maybe was able to witness the revival able to comment with their anecdotes?

That is NOT my recollection. I bought my Atari games from the same isle I bought my NES games from at Toys R Us (obviously in different years).

I think there is truth that game console marketing shifted into its own more toy like thing, distinct from computers, but I think that shift was already underway by the heyday of the 2600. I remember an entire display of just video games (2600, ColecoVision, and others), which was separate from other software, computers, and the consoles.

With the Toys R Us closure, I wrote an article about my memories of Toys R Us and The Great Video Game crash (and recovery) that tries to fill in for people what living through the crash actually felt like.

https://playcontrol.net/ewing/jibberjabber/memories-of-the-g...


All 8-bit micros were in the toy section as I recall, Commodore, Sinclair and the like, in the UK at least


I remember at my local K-Mart the commodore products were under the glass display cases with electronics like calculators. Then they'd have a couple of spinning wire racks for the discount ($9.99 and $19.99) shareware and games. Expensive stuff (from EA or Eypx) was under the glass and you had to find an employee willing to let a kid actually touch the box...


NES and the subsequent revival of the console was on account Nintendo being bold enough to invest when the conventional wisdom was that video games were a fad whose time had passed--that combined with a leap in AV quality over the Atari 2600 (the last mainstream console). 70s/80s culture seemed to churn every few years, it was riddled with fads, so the feeling was grounded in reality.

Outside of the console market, between the 2600 and the NES, there was growth in gaming on personal computers, but it was driven by floppy pirating. I'm not sure there was a lot of profit there.


Nintendo weren't particularly bold, they knew the conventional wisdom was wrong. Soon after the crash, Nintendo arcade machines called Vs. Machines appeared; these were basically Famicoms in arcade cabinets playing special versions of Famicom games (including Super Mario Bros.). This was Nintendo's stealth market research program; they used the revenue from these to gauge American interest in games, and found that Americans were still interested in games, they just weren't interested in crap.


So instead of finding the NES next to your other PCs at the time, it was near the toy aisle?

Yes, but chances were good that you were shopping for a computer in a small department store anyway, so it was all a short walk to the bedding and appliances sections. I don't know that they were marketed as toys so much as their primary market was kids.

Toys-R-Us had a pretty good selection of gaming consoles, plus the C64 and C128. No Amiga though. The boxes would show Dad fiddling with a mortgage calculator, then another picture of the family watching as the kids played a game.


The branding and packaging of the NES was actually intended to make it resemble a sophisticated piece of home audio/video equipment to avoid the "toy" label. It was called the Nintendo Entertainment System (80s "high tech" words), was done up in gray and black with red accents (as opposed to the Famicom's red and beige), and had a "front loader" cartridge slot akin to a VCR (which actually made the console-cartridge connection flakier and was the real reason we ritualistically blew on our cartridges).


>From what I understand, a big proponent in the revival (which was centered around the birth of the NES) was that Game Consoles were marketed more as toys than computers, right?

Yes... that's why the NES originally came with a toy robot and was sold as an "entertainment system" rather than a "video game console."




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: