411 Games Top 5 11.03.13: Most Successful Video Game System Launches
Posted by Sean Garmer on 11.03.2013
From the Sega Dreamcast and the Playstation 2 to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Xbox 360 and more, the 411 staff breaks down their top 5 most successful system launches…
Hello everyone, I hope it has been a good week for all the readers out there. It's all about success.
This week begins our launch month where we will focus on either the two companies that are launching systems this month, or have special launch related topics. This week and next week will be generic launch topics. So, let us begin with the Top 5 Most Successful System Launches.
*Success is a relative term and can be measured using a variety of factors. So, with that in mind I allowed the staff to decide for themselves what they would use to determine success. So, the lists provided may not even attempt to be objective or be solely based on factual information. Staff members could use personal stories or things such as launch games to determine why they felt those systems deserved to be on the list.*
John Cash (Reader Voice, Frequent Contributor to Four Player Co-op)
Note: Success can be a very flexible word in the modern era, so I'm going to go with "big picture" success over monetary success, ie "How much did the launch effect the console, it's competition, and the generation of it's debut". I am also only going with home consoles, because I've never been much of a handheld gamer, so my knowledge is (even more?) limited in that area.
5. Atari 2600: Its pretty simple logic, from a simpler time; convert something that is fun to do while you're out and about into something you can do right in your own home. Atari managed to do this a little too well, in the end (market crash, etc), but it still set the wheels in motion for Nintendo to perfect the market and dominate for many years.
4. Playstation 2: 500,000 units in one day. This was huge. We've (or at least I've) grown numb to hearing about Call of Duty making a bajillion dollars on the day of launch, but this was special. Sega had been bragging that they had cleared $97M, much more than twice the amount that Star Wars Episode One had cleared in it's first weekend at the box office (also a big deal at the time.) With 500k sold, Sony more than DOUBLED Sega's number, ending up with around $250M. That's a quarter of a billion. In the year 2000, something that was still essentially considered a toy to the public at large launching with sales of a quarter of a billion dollars was unfathomable. Also, its a DVD player! WHAT? That's right; Sony started this "all-in-one" stuff that far back (though you could even blame the PS1 with its ability to play audio CDs, as well.)
3. Nintendo Wii: It's 9pm, do you think your Mom is ready to destroy you at Wii Bowling? The Wii, by far, had everything going against it; experimental controls, tunnel-vision like focus on the casual market, shovel-ware spread like the black plague, and they pretty much completely ignored online gaming in general. And yet, it has sold over 100 million units worldwide to date. Let's also pour salt in the wounds and consider that while many TVs were harmed in the initial stages of the Wii's life, it was very rare to have something go wrong with the console itself, like say, red rings showing up, or seeing yellow lights, so very little of that 100M are replacement purchases. What the Wii did, beyond making video games a more acceptable past-time to the mainstream, and inadvertently I think, is butter up the general public into accepting things like a PS4 or XBO, machines that can do all kinds of things besides play games, into their homes.
2. Xbox 360: Time for a personal anecdote. I had just started college, living in a house off-campus with people my brother was friends with, but I didn't have anything in common with. There was a really odd week in October of 2005 where everything was just wrong; the wake of Hurricane Katrina exposing how woefully unprepared and unwilling the administration at the time was to help middle and lower class Americans, death tolls and damage figures in the billions were coming out, six weeks into college I was sick to death of school already, pretty much skipping all but the only class I didn't mind waking up for, and then there was something else; Microsoft. Microsoft was in the midst of possibly one of the biggest hype campaigns the world has seen since the Crusades (too soon?) A quick apology to the PC Master Race; I'm not only a console fan, but a Mac enthusiast (as I was raised to be) as well. So saying that, everything Microsoft did seemed suspicious to me in my antagonistic "I'm 18, I'm an adult" phase. It was just a very odd situation, flipping from one channel showing whole neighborhoods annihilated by flooding, talking about the dead still being found in the sewers, and then to the next channel where Microsoft was announcing they'd rented out an entire air-field to launch a product with a party that would last for THIRTY HOURS. Steve Jobs was doing "grand scale" reveal stuff at MacWorld expos much earlier, but it was nowhere this excessive. While it's not quite so grand these days, there is no doubt much of that launch party still alive and well. E3 now is a complete circus, with live televised and live-streamed press conferences featuring celebrities, humongous projector screens, thumping techno music in the back-ground, and even audiences that will boo and cheer things. I would also like to blame several memes on this launch, and all the E3 press conferences it inspired, including Giant Enemy Crab, Hit for Massive Damage, RIDGE RACER, Mr. Excitement, My Body Is Ready, and so on.
1. NES: In Japan, the Famicon was launched with three games; Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Popeye (of all things...), but the US launch EXPLODED on to the scene with 18 (!) games ranging from less popular classics like Mach Rider and Clu Clu Land, to massive legends like Super Mario Bros and Excitebike. This was one of the most important decisions ever made, as far as the game industry (and in fact, maybe the entertainment industry in general) goes. Nintendo marketed this as the ultimate toy box, and would even (gladly) sell you toys to put in it. They even gave you a new toy for free with the box, and it just happened to be the toy that would change all toys that came after it. They probably didn't know how fast it would happen, but they had to have known that eventually, these kids that they sell to would eventually start to want to make their own games when they grow up, and that in turn would lead them into still wanting to play video games, only increasing the market range for their product. By having so many choices on top of giving SMB with the console, they single-handedly re-invented the industry in their image, some of which can still be seen today as more and more classic hits are brought back to life over and over again.
Sean Garmer (Games Zone Reviewer, Regular Contributor to Cooperative Multiplayer 411 Games Podcast, Games Top 5 Organizer)
Honorable Mention: SNES, SEGA Genesis, Playstation 2, The Original Xbox
5. SEGA Dreamcast: The Dreamcast's monetary success proved to be short lived, but it doesn't mean the console wasn't a success for other reasons. For me, it was the first console that made me see video games as more than just a way to spend hours of my day. I began to want to explore the game I was playing and actually enjoy everything the game had to offer, instead of just playing it to beat the game and be done with it. It was also the first system I owned that I had actually been hyped for because I would read about it in video game magazines. The system was also the first to have a built-in modem and used SEGAnet to allow you to play games online, which was quite a unique experience that we take for granted today. The system also featured one heck of a launch lineup, including probably the last time SEGA created an actually good Sonic game. The system was ahead of its time in so many respects and I still pull mine out of storage sometimes to play it because the games brought a unique experience we hadn't seen to that point. There are a tremendous amount of enhancements and wonderful things that have come out since the Dreamcast, but the Dreamcast was the first system to be the "total package."
4. The Gameboy: I didn't get one of these until the Gameboy Pocket came out and Pokemon came into being. But, you want to talk about a true game changer, without the Gameboy, we don't have any kind of mobile gaming. The Gameboy made actual real games like Mario portable, was easy to pick up and play, and gave anyone the ability to stick in a cartridge on a bus, a plane, or a train and play something similar to what they could experience at home. Screw Candy Crush, Angry Birds, or Where's My Water, without Tetris none of those games even come into people's minds. Tetris not only made the Gameboy a hot item, but it was the first true mobile addiction people ever had. The Gameboy has spawned just as many iterations of itself, as there have been home consoles. Not to mention, it alone created the portable gaming market and brought forth the SEGA Game Gear, Sony's portable machines, and even gaming cell phones. The fact that Nintendo can continually make new iterations of the 3DS and they still sell a ton of hardware all goes back to the impact the Gameboy had way back in the late 1980's.
3. Nintendo Wii: John Cash hit the nail on the head with his assessment of the Wii. So, I won't go over everything he said. This system will be remembered as the system that brought EVERYONE into gaming. The PS1 might have made people take notice and the PS2/Xbox made it "cool," but the Wii made gaming accessible to grandparents, parents, and even the youngest of children. This was the only system my dad has ever owned for himself and he is the farthest from being a "gamer" that there is. He loved doing fitness on it and playing Wii Sports. Things that were not possible on any other system. Motion gaming might be maligned nowadays, but to this day people still have Wii Bowling tournaments and use the system at parties. I don't think there was anyone that thought the system would succeed and it wound up blowing away everyone's expectations. Even if the Wii U quickly goes the way of the Dreamcast, they could still love off the success of the Wii for years.
2. Playstation 1: The system that forever changed the way we looked at gaming and also the first system that gave us a look at the "art" of gaming. The SNES may be my favorite console of all-time, but the PS1 is the only old console I own that I still have games for. Sure, most of them are Final Fantasies or RPG's, but they are collector's items to me. I just never felt that way about games on my SNES, N64, or even my Dreamcast (though I sort of regret selling all my Dreamcast games now.) The Playstation's use of the CD-ROM gave us FMV's, 32 bit graphics, and best of all new types of games to enjoy. Not to mention, the controller was perfect and easy to use. The PS1 not only allowed you to listen to CD's on it, it had a memory card you could carry around all of your saves in. So, all you had to do was take the game and the memory card to your friend's house to teach your friend how to get past a certain level or boss. The PS1 spawned a huge library of hits and gave developers a chance to go into the next frontier of gaming, which Sony's competition couldn't really do because it was limited by a cartridge or being relatively obscure like the SEGA Saturn. Sony took everything it learned from Nintendo and pushed gaming into another gear by innovating. Things that they continue to do today with the PS2, PS3, and now the PS4 all because of this little mighty machine that made numerous gaming genres we love today, big household names. The PS1 also had games made for it 10 years after its existence, which proves how successful and beloved the system was. Sure, the PS2 would go on to shatter all of that, but without the PS1 none of that would have been possible.
1. NES: We may not have console gaming at all today without the success of the NES and the platforming juggernaut that is Super Mario Bros. Nintendo made console gaming into a viable alternative to PC's and arcades when the NES and SMB hit store shelves. It also pretty much saved gaming as we know it today, so I don't think I have to say any more as to why it should probably be No. 1 on almost anyone's lists.
Wrestling 2 the MAX Podcast. Go listen to episode 62 and tell us what you think at email@example.com this week, we reviewed WWE Hell in a Cell 2013, Monday's RAW, TNA IMPACT, and WWE NXT. We also talked about TNA being for sale and who should buy them.
If you are a fan of W2M make sure to listen live on Monday Nights at Midnight ET on Spreaker.com And you can always call-in at (972)-591-8620 And make sure you join our ever growing facebook group as well. W2M Facebook
Games Coming Out the Week of 11/03/13
Call of Duty: Ghosts (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U)
Zumba Fitness: World Party (Xbox 360, Wii U, Wii)
Ben 10 Omniverse 2 (All Systems, except PS VITA & PC)