Why did the NES do so well in the US

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Tron
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby Tron » April 26th, 2015, 9:45 am

It was awesome & the market was ready. Looking at NES and Atari is like night and day. Details and colors that could finally mimic the arcade games. SMB brought in platformers in a way that hadn't been done before.

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scotland
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby scotland » April 26th, 2015, 11:37 am

jon wrote:But it wasn't just Super Mario Bros. Again, by the time it got a proper release, you also had Zelda. And literally a couple months later is when a ton of good games came out.


Your thinking is good Jon, as Legend of Zelda is an standout game...but it was not released in the US until summer of 1987. Beyond the launch titles, 1986 had only a few notable games: ghosts n goblins, gradius, karate champ are about it. The big names of 1986 are a slew of Donkey Kong titles...rehashed Colecovision stuff. It is not until 1987 we begin to get the NES library as we know and love it - Castlevania, Ikari Warriors, Legend of Zelda, the first Mega Man, Metroid, and Mike Tyson's Punch Out!

So, was it not until mid to late 1987 that the NES became a thing? In which case, its not Mario that sold it, its Link, Simon, Iron Mike and Samus.

Tron wrote:It was awesome & the market was ready. Looking at NES and Atari is like night and day. Details and colors that could finally mimic the arcade games. SMB brought in platformers in a way that hadn't been done before.


Which Atari? The 2600 - sure, night and day...the Atari 7800...much closer...the Atari ST...the ST is the superior machine. The market for home gaming was ready in both the US and Europe, but was satisfied in different ways, so that's not the key component. Mimic arcade games you say? Actually, the early NES library does have quite a few arcade ports, but I thought the legacy of the system was bringing home gaming beyond the quarter munching high score arcade games?

Which leaves platformers as a suggestion? You may have something there, Tron. While there are good platformers elsewhere (impossible mission, etc), the NES certainly has quite a number and the controller built for precise platforming. With Metroid and Castlevania, we also see an evolution of platforming, but if its these games that are the big selles, then again - credit to them and not to Mario. The other big games of '87, like Punch Out and Zelda, are not platformers at all.

jon
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby jon » April 26th, 2015, 3:00 pm

Also I think the launch titles, while not overwhelming, did the job of helping it become popular before the big mid to late 1987 titles came. Excite Bike was probably the best, and was popular. Then you had 10 Yard Fight, which I kind of liked, I know it's gotten abysmal reviews but I thought it was decent. Baseball, which also has gotten bad reviews, I also thought was ok. There was also Golf and Tennis. And don't forget Duck Hunt, with the gun accessory, which was amusing.

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scotland
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby scotland » April 27th, 2015, 11:47 am

I appreciate your first hand experience with the launch titles, and the thinking is good that compared to earlier consoles those games can be fun. However, the sales numbers are still looking like it was 1987 that did it, not the 1986 titles. By the end of 1986, the NES was basically another Colecovision still in terms of sales and indeed, its Donkey Kong'ish library.

According to this Feb 28th, 1987 newspaper article about the rebounding video game market
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 7469&hl=en
has the NES as one of the 10 best selling Christmas gifts for 1986. Sega and Atari are both mentioned, and light guns get a special mention. Nintendo of America reported selling 1.1 million units in 1986. That's interesting (as are the ads for movies you could see in 1987 Toledo).

To put that in perspective, that seems to be about the same sales the Colecovision did in its first (and really only) year. Meanwhile, the Commodore 64 sold about twice that number of units in 1986. ( Sales figures, being proprietary, are hard to come by and certainly debatable). According to VGC charts though, in 1987, Nintendo took off and sold 4 million NES units in America (continuing to rise for another two years after that).

My takeaway is that its missed opportunity and good 1987 NES titles. The year of 1986 is the year that the 8 bit computer companies like Commodore, Apple, and Atari failing to market toward the consumer market effectively, or priced themselves too high or something. The demand was there, and we can see Europe did go that route. In the US, home computers were handedly outselling the NES, and had better games, but it never clicked. Sure, it had a solid market, but the NES went into orbit with sales later in the decade. Had America had an Uncle Clive, it might have been different.

That sort of points toward Nintendo of America successfully marketing toward the right audience, building a solid unit with a cheaper price, a good controller, and then in 1987 getting a solid poker hand of good titles - platformers and those others. That would mean that it wasn't Mario that sold America on the NES, but those other 1987 titles (although no doubt SMB3 solidified this).

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Rev
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby Rev » April 27th, 2015, 1:34 pm

Scotland you make some really interesting points. One thing I'm curious about is how Nintendo power played into the success of the original Nintendo. I believe that came out in 1988 while Nintendo fan club might have came out before. I wasn't that old back then.. I was born in 1987 so it was a little before my time. Was Nintendo fan club even released in the u.s.? If it was that could have possibly helped with the spike in sales of 1987. Just a thought...

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Oltobaz
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby Oltobaz » April 27th, 2015, 2:18 pm

Marketing and innovative gameplay.

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scotland
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby scotland » April 27th, 2015, 3:12 pm

Oltobaz wrote:Marketing and innovative gameplay.


What marketing in particular?

The 2nd generation consoles like Atari and Mattel did a lot of print advertising, as seen in the US comics of the early 80s. The NES though...not so much, and when I recall them, they were from 3rd parties like Konami in this ad: http://speckycdn.sdm.netdna-cdn.com/wp- ... a-1987.jpg

Jeff Rovin's first "How to Win at Nintendo" is in 1988, and includes the big 1987 titles in it. Again, its not Super Mario Bros doing the conquering in 1986, but Link and Iron Mike and Simon Belmont and Samus in 1987.

I don't disagree with 'marketing and innovative gameplay' at all. The system has great games, a great controller, and it earned its place in video game history, but, its also clear that this was not Nintendo and Mario wow'ing everyone at first sight. I think the power of Super Mario Bros has been exaggerated, and maybe Nintendo bought into some of its own spin. Atari, Sega, Commodore and others could have stepped into the gap to fill the demand for gaming, but failed to do so. While at the same time, Nintendo's rise could be contributed to solid 1st party properties other than Mario, bolstered and maybe publicized more by major 3rd parties like Konami.

Sut
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby Sut » April 27th, 2015, 3:42 pm

Another development that the NES brought to the table, which I thought was a game changer and what also impressed me the most when I first played NES, was the fact games were now beatable.
Think about it, most second generation games were play for high score. There wasn't the game world to get lost in, there wasn't the empowering feeling of completing a game. It always felt good to complete a game.
This also had the positive business side effect of the consumer beating a game and then being ready for the next challenge (ie going to buy the next game).
As much as I loved my Spectrum and ST, I could rarely remember beating games, they were either balls hard or just not designed to be beaten. Eventually the console influence came over to home computer gaming and games did get better balance and became beatable.

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scotland
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby scotland » April 27th, 2015, 4:18 pm

Sut wrote: Another development that the NES brought to the table, which I thought was a game changer and what also impressed me the most when I first played NES, was the fact games were now beatable.


Good observation my friend.

My counter would be that the trend away from quarter muncher high score arcade style games was not new. Some games, like Karateka had that progression to a final boss that we see as a modern trait. Others, like Bards Tale, had save games and a progression. Even very early computer games, like the old Star Trek text game, were a beatable game played to survive/win and not for high score necessarily. Sports games also had definite beginnings and endings.

I will say that this was a shift in the NES gameplay style compared to early consoles that were interested in arcade ports. The NES rise also happened at the same time that the arcades, the source material, had also had its own crash. It might explain in part why Sega was outcompeted in the US though, as they were almost alone in still producing arcade games at this time, and then porting them to the master system. If this is part of the reason for the NES success, it might also have been coincidental. Certainly looking at the 1986 NES library, you see a number of arcade ports.

eraserhead
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Re: Why did the NES do so well in the US

Postby eraserhead » April 27th, 2015, 5:36 pm

Rev wrote:Was Nintendo fan club even released in the u.s.? If it was that could have possibly helped with the spike in sales of 1987.

It was the Fun Club in the US. And it was a big hit. I believe the first issue of the newsletter had 600 copies made and the last issue (#7) had 600,000. Each subsequent issue had not only more copies run but more pages. Then it was ended and the first issue of Nintendo Power (1988) was millions. Nintendo Power was genius, by the way. It was high quality advertising that we paid to get, because it was also in-depth content. Then there were awesome commercials (house takes off like a rocket ship). Posters showing all the games available included with every game.
Nintendo was smart and incremental in increasing all marketing efforts, not just the magazine. At first, the NES was only available in three cities.

For sure, 1987 and 1988 were powerhouse years. But that was built on the base of 1985 in arcades and 1986. That was a strong foundation. Games back then had a much longer life. Super Mario 1 and Zelda 1 were still popular two and three years after they came out, even as they sat on the shelf next to their sequels which were also megahits.


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