Entertainment Earth

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Retro Gaming Nerds Presents - The NES

Originally released in Japan on July 15, 1983 as the Family Computer, or the Famicom. The Famicom was Nintendo's first foray into the home console market ready to compete with Atari head to head. The console was released in North America in 1985, well after the collapse of the video game market. It was known as the NES. However, this wasn't going to be the case if things would have been different.

Prior to the Consumer Electronics Show of 1983, Nintendo entered negotiations with Atari to market the console in the USA, considering Nintendo was wary of competing head to head with the then juggernaut. However Atari found out that Coleco was going to demonstrate Nintendo's Donkey Kong on the Coleco Adam computer. This demonstration was a breach of contract with Atari, which put negotiations on hold. A month later, Ray Kassar was released from Atari, Inc. Nintendo then decided to launch the Nintendo on their own.

Since launching the console, they helped re-establish the gaming market in the U.S. The console was dubbed the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short. Nintendo also took notes on where Atari went wrong with the handling of the third party market.

First, they put a lock out chip in the console and cartridges. In order to release a title on the console, developers had to go through a rigorous quality test. They were also limited to generally five titles per year. This allowed Nintendo to ensure that the market would not be flooded with horrible games, or clones of popular titles...which is a major issue that troubled Atari.

Second, their license restricted developers to develop a game for ONLY the NES for up to two years. This put a stranglehold on the market, not allowing competitors, like Sega and Atari, to get top tier titles to appear on the units.  There was a work around for both issues, but that is another topic for another time.

The NES retained its popularity in the USA up to its discontinuation on August 14, 1995. In Japan, the console stayed alive until September 25, 2003. Nintendo has stayed with us for the last 30+ years as a console manufacturer, and one has to wonder what is NeXt.

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