The video game industry collapsed in 1983 without any scope of revival in the future.
Then, Nintendo’s NES happened.
The NES flooded the market and pulled the video game industry out of the economic recession. Nintendo originally wanted to release The Famicom along with an “American” version that came with a keyboard and mouse. Hiroshi Yamauchi decided to experiment with something new and asked designer Masayuki Uemura to come up with a different concept.
Call it a fluke, stroke of good luck, or technical brilliance, but what followed was the design of the NES that used cartridges for its games. This innovative concept could be credited as the single biggest reason behind the revival of the video game industry in 1985.
Nintendo decided to play it smart with Nintendo Entertainment System and exercised a strict monopoly over the kind of video games that could be shipped for the console. The strict quality control screened away from the clutter of terrible video games that brought the industry down to its knees.
Nintendo did this by establishing a robust policy in place:
- i) No third party developer could release more than three games per year.
ii) Released games must carry the “Official Nintendo Stamp of Quality” without which they won’t be sold in stores.
This not only culled the terrible roster of video games that were a mainstay of the early 1980s, but it also meant that only Nintendo produced the majority of its games. Most of their video games became an instant hit because of Nintendo’s unique quality assurance process.
One of the first video games released for the console was Super Mario Bros. This was followed by a slew of successful classical hits such as The Legend of Zelda series, Castlevania, and Metroid.
Nintendo Was Very Ambitious
Because of the Wii and Wii U, both of which focused on innovative approaches to input controls, Nintendo is still known for their high-risk maneuvers. The NES came with a long line of impressive accessories including their detachable controllers, a light gun, and a cassette drive.
The market conditions were mostly terrible for an expensive system, but Nintendo decided a completely different rebranding strategy. The core principles of their marketing campaign were simple – to convince Westerners that the NES wasn’t selling them the terrible video games of the past under a different brand. Instead, the NES was sold as a fully fledged “entertainment system” and not just a “child’s toy.” The color schematics of the console look brighter and more mature than their initial prototype— the Famicom.
To combat unlicensed games, Nintendo rolled out its 10NES lockout hardware. It was a chip attached on the cartridge’s circuit board that was compatible with a corresponding chip on the console. This allowed Nintendo to close the floodgates of low-quality games that destroyed Atari and its competitors.
Nintendo eventually became the undisputed leader of video games in the U.S., and it wasn’t challenged until the era of the PlayStation.
Do you agree that the NES saved the video game industry