Saturday, June 7, 2014

An alternate universe: Sony and Nintendo making the SNES-CD.

It is quite certain that most of you are well aware of what the gaming world looks like now. We have 3 major home consoles coming from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, two handhelds coming from Sony and Nintendo and gaming PCs that have always been there. You know who are the top players and who are the underdogs, but do you know how different it could had been if certain decisions were made at specific points in time? Today we are going to look into one personal theory I have about a particular "alternate universe" that would had happened if:

If this had happened, maybe we would had played Donkey Kong Country as a 2.5D game.

Nintendo and Sony had kept their partnership (1991).

Note: This is just a personal theory so your own opinions may greatly differ from the ones expressed on this article, so bear with me and if you have any different ideas, leave them on the comment section as it is always interesting to talk about these things.

The classic champion of the 90's

The origin of the first Sony home console is a story of separation. It is said that at first, what we came to know as the PlayStation (or PS ONE) was just going to be a disc drive peripheral for the Super Nintendo, that would had enabled the console to jump to the next generation without having to actually make a new machine. For a while it seemed that Nintendo was going to take that path, until they decided otherwise and then Sony decided to go solo which led to the birth of the PlayStation which meant the end of Nintendo's dominance over the industry and the beginning of Sega's downfall.

What could had happened differently if the Nintendo/Sony alliance had been kept?

Imagine if this war had never ended...

(1991 - 1999)

  •  The Nintendo/Sony alliance would had crushed the Genesis and later on the Sega CD even before it had a chance, because they would simply have the better games vs the unimpressive library of interactive movies that the Sega CD is known for. 
  •  Sega would had realized that it wouldn't be wise to make the 32X because they would had been cut to size again, so they would had jumped straight to the Saturn, later on overtaking the SNES-CD because of having superior technology and more advanced looking games. Another important thing would be that because of the success of the Saturn, Sega of America and Sega of Japan would had most likely kept the peace instead of going against each other and because of that, promising games like Sonic Xtreme would had been released without any problems. 
  •  Sega had become a fan favorite, but Nintendo was not stupid and had been in development of the Nintendo 64 all along so now the Sega Saturn and a disc based Nintendo 64 would lead another classic console showdown. With superb first and third party games evenly separated between the two platforms, this would had sparked a fan boy war that would had been worse than anything we had even seen.
  •  Sony, seen that both the Saturn and the CD based Nintendo 64 were too far ahead for them to enter the competition, would had then began working on the PlayStation concept in complete secrecy, preparing for a later release (1998-1999), but it would had kept the CD format instead of jumping into DVD territory because the technology would had been too expensive to put on a console at the time. Also the machine itself would had been as powerful as a Dreamcast so this would mark a time of success for Sony as everybody would had been very impressed with their machine. Making the console market stand at a virtual tie before Nintendo and Sega unveiled their new consoles.

Because with disc media, size matters!

(2002 - 2006)

  • After a long battle without a clear winner, Nintendo and Sega would had moved to release their new consoles which would had toppled the PlayStation in terms of power. Sega would had jumped to the DVD format while Nintendo would still had gone to the mini-disc because of fears of piracy and both consoles would had been released approximately in the 2002 to 2003 time span. 
  • The battle would had been fierce and Microsoft would had come up with the original Xbox a lot earlier than they really did (2002), but would had been kept at a very distant third place followed only by the PlayStation who's original lifespan was at its end. 
  • At the end of that generation, the battle would had been won by Sega (mostly because of the difference in disc format) with Nintendo learning its lesson and Microsoft gearing up for a second try while Sony who played the waiting game on that generation, would be ready to release the PlayStation 2 in the year 2007. 

War...War never changes...

(2007 to the present day)

From here on, there would had been a 4 way death match with all major companies having a console at once. This one would have Nintendo with a slight lead, with Sega and Sony almost tied at the second position while Microsoft stands at a 4th place and would be already showing signs of dropping out of the console race and sticking to PC gaming instead (quite possibly having a Steam like store or even making a partnership with Valve). At our present day, we would probably be seen the great presentation of the new Nintendo, Sega and Sony machines, with so much hype that we would be counting the days until the event.

To wrap things up:

Alternate universes... Sparking our imaginations like always.

Effects of this alternate universe on our present time:

  • The tight competition would had left so little space for error, that companies would not had the chance to experiment into new audiences meaning that the casual gaming movement that the Wii started would not had happened at the gigantic scale it did on real life.
  • Console gaming technology would not be as advanced as it is now so the PC gaming platform would be far ahead of consoles in terms of power, which would make gaming PCs to be even more popular than they already are.
  • The indie gaming scene would be something that would be almost exclusive to the PC platform, with Microsoft and Valve at front.
  • Formats like Blu-ray and HD-DVD would be something relatively new for consoles at the present time, but with the arrival of the digital game age, the use of physical media would not be as favored as it is now.
  • Game exclusives would still be something that happened very often, while the multi-platform trend would be held back by the intense battle that the companies would be having to bring the best games into their platform.
  • We would see a bigger number of localized games reaching our shores because the Japanese style of making games would had never lost its focus so American and Japanese types of games would still be separate things instead of one trying to imitate the other.
  • The motion-controlled gaming craze would had never happened and we would be more inclined towards virtual reality and VR headsets a lot more early than we currently are.
  • All major companies would had been forced to create at least twice the quantity of first party games while keeping their classic heavy hitters from becoming dormant. This because the market would had not become complacent, so companies would had felt pressured to outdo themselves at every chance they got.
  • Much of the franchises we in reality see as dead or missing in action, would be pretty much alive and kicking.
Now imagine for a moment that this little alternate universe is real. Do you think that gaming would be better or worse? I leave that judgement call on your hands.

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