In 1985 Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and saved the video game market from the famous 1983 video game crash. Since then Nintendo has been synonymous with the video game industry from the classic cartridges to some of the most popular video game franchises we know today.
Nintendo launched the NES in October of 1985 with 18 games which is now refereed to the black box titles. By 1990 an estimated 30% of American households owned a Nintendo NES, by comparison only 23% owned family computers. Not only did the Nintendo NES save the video game market with it’s popularity but at the same time it almost destroyed the computer entertainment software. The days of the Commodore 64 and Adam computers where behind us and the new area of home video game consoles were the future. In the late 80s Nintendo was everywhere from having its own cereal to its own movie (The Wizard). Nintendo was so popular by 1990 Nintendo even surpassed Toyota as Japan’s most successful corporation.
Seeing the success that Nintendo was having in video game market other companies emerged to compete with them. In the late 80s and early 90s Nintendo’s main competition was Sega. A year after the release of the NES Sega released the Sega Master System for direct competition. The Nintendo NES continued to have success with the strong selection of games and introductions of new video game characters. In the summer of 1989 Sega launched the Sega Genesis in North America in limited release to New York City and Los Angeles. The launch of the Sega Genesis was overshadowed by one of the most popular games ever made by Nintendo Super Mario Bros. 3. Marketing the Sega Genesis as a 16-bit system Sega worked to get third party game support and bring in new franchises to the home console. Sega eventually signed an agreement with EA which brought a very popular football game to the system called John Madden Football before the end of 1990. Sega outsold Nintendo four Christmas seasons in a row, Nintendo launched the 16-bit Super Nintendo to compete but with the lack of games the Sega had a leg up.
The Super Nintendo pushed the limits of video game sound and graphics with some amazing RPG’s including some classics as Chronotrigger, Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire and more. The Super Nintendo eventually started to close the gap on Sega. While the next Sega systems where in development Sega came up with a lot of different add-ons for the Genesis including the Sega CD and Sega 32X but they just fell short. The Super Nintendo took the video game market back over and continued to turn out some of the best games to date. By the time the Nintendo 64 was released Sega was on its last legs and they faded out with the Sega Dreamcast. The new competition for Nintendo has emerged and it was the Sony PlayStation. Nintendo and Sony battled for a few years and this is a era that Nintendo was nicknamed the “kid friendly system” and all the Teen and Mature games were released on the Sony PlaySation. Because of this game producers like Capcom started releasing games on Sony because of the system demographic. In November of 2001 Nintendo was looking to get back on the video game market map with the Nintendo Gamecube, but another new system was being released that same month the Microsoft Xbox. Gamecube sales were strong but it did not have the game support that Xbox and PS2 had. When Nintendo launched the Wii with its innovative controls, it looked like Nintendo was on its way back but will finished in a distant third place. The Wii U had strong overall sales but did not have third party game support and the lack of titles hurt the system.
At the beginning of March 2017 the Nintendo Switch was released to overwhelming sales and lines at stores. It has been very well perceived and looks to fix a lot of things Nintendo has issues with like online gaming and third party games. Is this the return of Nintendo? Only time will tell.